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The Secret to Removing a Red Wine Stain from a White Tablecloth

Watching a glass of red wine tip over onto your favorite white tablecloth or finding a few rogue spots the morning after a dinner party can really make your stomach drop. It’s no secret that red wine stains are notoriously difficult to remove. But if you have the right products on hand, you can completely remove the stain with some persistence and patience. In order to make the best out of the situation, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind.

The sooner you try to remove the stain, the easier it will be to clean (via Apartment Therapy). Fresh stains that have not set will not require a ton of effort to remove. You should always immediately try to treat the stain with cold water and regular dish soap if possible. These two simple products can rinse out red wine before it sets and can make totally removing the stain later more feasible. But take heart, stains that have been around for a while are not impossible to get rid of.

While there are a ton of different theories and methods out there for removing red wine stains from white tablecloths, only one is really worthwhile, which Apartment Therapy shares direct from Martha Stewart’s “Homekeeping Handbook.” A word of warning: you’ll need a total of six different products to properly tackle the stain.

Martha Stewart may have the best method

Martha Stewart in front of white curtain

To begin your stain-fighting efforts, Stewart suggests first applying a mixture of clear liquid dish soap and 10 ounces of water to the red wine stain (via Apartment Therapy). Then, tamp or tap — but do not rub — the stain with a soft brush to hopefully push the wine particles through the fabric. After rinsing with water, add white vinegar and tamp again. After letting it sit for up to 20 minutes, wash the vinegar away with water again. Depending on how bad the stain is, it should start to lift at this point.

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If the stain is still there, pour just a little hydrogen peroxide over the stain and let that sit for up to 15 minutes. (However, please note that delicate fabrics such as linen or silk should only be left like this for a maximum of five minutes, the outlet warns.) The next step, if hydrogen peroxide still doesn’t do the trick, is to use ammonia. Add a few drops and let it work on the stain before washing the ammonia away with water.

Finally, treat with detergent (specifically one that has “enzymes”) before you give the tablecloth a final wash. Simply pour the detergent over the stain, let it soak for another 15 minutes, and then wash it on a cold water cycle. No need to add more detergent to this wash, though a dose of powdered, non-chlorinated, and color-safe bleach can also be applied before washing a second time if hints of your red wine stain linger.

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