Red Wine Spills

red-wine-stainsWe’ve read so many conflicting reports about red wine and carpets: Pour white wine on the red wine, douse it with talcum powder or salt, make a thick paste of borax and water, pour on soda water…so what exactly should you do if you are ever unfortunate enough to spill a glass of red wine on your carpet? Let us first tell you a story from personal experience so that you know you are not alone in your misfortune.

Long ago, I was vacuuming a wealthy customer’s home. The cord became stuck, so I yanked on it (something I tell team members never to do). As fate would have it, the cord was tangled in the legs of a small table holding a crystal decanter of well-aged ruby port. When I yanked the vacuum cord, it upset the table, and the decanter promptly obeyed the laws of gravity. All this happened very quietly because the customer had very thick, very plush, very white wool carpeting. Both the sound of that wine (ever so muffled) and the sight of that wine (a sickening blood-red) are forever etched into my memory. It quickly ran through my mind what it might cost to replace the carpeting, and that was enough to move me to immediate action.

Here’s what I’ve learned about such spills: Immediately blot up as much of the wine as possible. Use cleaning cloths or towels. Don’t waste time looking for old towels. Use your best ones if that’s all that’s handy. Keep using fresh cloths or towels. After you’ve blotted up as much as you can, spray the area with Red or Blue Juice or even plain water to remoisten (not re-soak) the area, and blot again. As needed, gently use a toothbrush or turn the cloth as you blot to help loosen the last remains of the stain. Remoisten and re-blot two or three times until what you’re blotting up is colorless or the faint color of Red or Blue Juice, but definitely not the color of wine. Stand on the cloths the last couple of times you blot to apply extra pressure. When finished, place additional layers of clean cloths over the damp area, cover them with several layers of newspapers, and then weigh them down with a few books. Leave overnight. After you remove the books, gently brush or vacuum the area to match the rest of the carpet.

When I was at that customer’s home, I could leave the books only until we’d finished the rest of the cleaning and vacuuming. But that was enough. Even though I had to confess what had happened (after all, the wine was missing), a stain never appeared.

Some of the things you read about carpet stains probably work, but some can make things worse, like adding so much liquid to the spill that it soaks the pad or even the floor under the carpet. It might be okay to apply salt or talcum or a similar absorbent to soak up the wine, but you won’t know if it worked or not until it dries. Besides, you’re more likely to run out of those items than towels. We prefer to take ten minutes or so to solve the problem immediately and be done with it.