If you drink enough red wine, it is pretty much inevitable: At some point in time, you will spill some on a piece of clothing.
And if what happens to you is like what happened to me, that piece of clothing won’t be an old T-shirt destined to one day become a garage rag. No, it will be one of your favorite shirts or tops or pairs of pants or skirts.
So… what to do?
First, don’t panic. One’s initial reaction might be to grab a towel, perhaps moisten it, and start rubbing the area of the spill. That would be the worst thing one could do, as it actually would serve to rub the stain into the clothing material, making it much more difficult or possibly impossible to remove.
Instead, grab a white cotton cloth. (Note: If you drink a lot of red wine, it’s a good idea to have a few of these readily available, perhaps stashed in your wine cellar or closet, or next to your wine rack.) You’ll also need a bowl (such as a mixing bowl), some table salt and, at the end of the process, some boiling water.
Start by using your dampened white cotton cloth to dab at the stain. The goal here is to absorb any of the excess wine.
Next, pull the fabric taut, and slide a bowl (such as a mixing bowl) under it, securing the fabric with a rubber band. You want to center the stain over the bowl.
As quickly as possible, cover the stain with a good coating of salt. The salt will need to sit for at least five minutes, so if you haven’t done so already, this is a good time to start boiling water.
Once the salt has had a chance to absorb the wine-and-water mix on the fabric, hold the pot of boiling water about 8 inches above the stain. With care, start pouring it slowly over the stain. The height of the pot and the pace of the pour should enable you to flush out the stain.
Finally, if guidelines from the manufacturer allow, launder the fabric using your washing machine’s hottest water setting. If hot water is not suggested, simply launder as you normally would, but do not transfer the garment to the dryer until the stain is completely removed. Hang drying is the better way to go.
Will this system work for all garments in all cases? I wish I could say yes, but the answer is no. Especially when a wine is deeply hued, stains can be truly challenging to remove. But following the steps we’ve outlined here will give you the best shot at removing a stain and saving the garment from a fate as a garage rag.