How to Take Out Wine Stains From a White Shirt

Don't let red wine stains ruin white clothing.
... Hemera Technologies/ Images

If that perfectly aged red wine that went down so smoothly also found its way down the front of your new white shirt, it’s time to take immediate action. While red wine stains like to stick around longer than it took to age them, the correct solutions can dissolve them right before your eyes. Before you start stripping off your clothing in a panic, use an on-the-go treatment to dilute the wine until you can get home.

Blot the wine stain with a paper towel by gently dabbing at it to soak up the excess fluid. Do not rub the stain, as this will grind the pigment into the fabric.

Get some club soda and take your shirt off. Turn the shirt inside out. Hold it over a tub or sink and pour the club soda over the back of the red wine stain. Dab most of the moisture out of the shirt with a clean towel. Put the shirt back on and treat the stain as soon as you get home.

Lay the shirt on a flat surface. Place a towel underneath it to prevent staining the surface. Pour table salt on top of the wine stain until you can no longer see the stain. Let the salt sit for five to 10 minutes, or until it starts to turn pink. Brush the salt off into the trash.

Place the stained portion of the shirt over a bowl so that it is centered within the rim. Fill a glass with cold water and pour it over the top of the red wine stain to dilute it.

Fill a sink with a solution of one part white vinegar to two parts cold water and insert the shirt. Let the shirt soak for five to 10 minutes to remove additional wine residue.

Fill a washing machine with lukewarm to warm water, depending on the fabric care label on the shirt. Insert the shirt and add one cap full of heavy-duty laundry detergent to the water. Set the machine to a gentle wash cycle and turn it on. Do this only after you have treated the stain. Warm water on an untreated stain will set the stain in the fabric.

Wait until the washing machine turns off and remove the shirt. Examine the shirt carefully to ensure the red wine stain is completely gone.

Dry the shirt according to the instructions on the care label, or hang it to air-dry.

  • Do not rub the wine stain as this can push it further into the fabric of the shirt.
  • Do not apply bar soap to the stain as this can set the stain.
  • You can also mix equal parts of hydrogen peroxide and liquid dish soap together and apply it to the red wine stain, letting it sit for five to10 minutes.

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.