The Best Tips For Cleaning Red Wine Stains

09/27/2014 10:25 am ET | Updated Sep 27, 2014

Red wine: easy to drink, even easier to spill.

Ask anyone and they'll have a solution for removing red wine, whether it involves using white wine or other unlikely substances like milk or shaving cream. It's a dreaded thing to spill, but we're here to calm your fears.

We called in an expert, Ingrid Johnson, Professor and Assistant Chairperson of Textile Development and Marketing at Fashion Institute Of Technology (FIT), to debunk some cleaning myths and give us the right solutions.

Here's what we learned:

1. Salt is the best option for cleaning up freshly-spilled red wine.

salt

"The first and easiest thing to do is ​to ​sprinkle with salt as this will absorb the wine," Johnson told us via email. The solution holds true for bedspreads, curtains, couches and other home items, which all "absorb slowly," making it easier to get the wet stain out. If the item is made of cotton, hot water is enough to do the trick, according to Johnson.

2. Oxi products are the best thing for getting out old, dried stains.

red wine spill

"Old or set in stains from wine can be more of a challenge," says Johnson. But it is possible to get dried wine stains out. She recommends saturating the area with hot water, applying a pre-treatment and then letting any oxi product -- usually a combination of granules and water -- "work its magic" for anywhere from 2 to 10 hours.

3. You shouldn't use white wine to clean up spills.

white wine

Johnson shoots this home remedy myth down. "In both cases the stain is essentially fruit juice and not matter how clear the white wine seems​,​ it has color from the fruit," she adds.

4. Preventing stains is difficult, period.

red wine spills

We've heard rumors that using certain fabrics like Sunbrella inside the home or awesome fabric protectors are easy ways to prevent stains, which Johnson partly puts them to rest. "There are fabric protectors like Scotchgard, but they are surface applications and can wear off from use. Sunbrella essentially can withstand being exposed to the elements and is noted for outstanding weather-ability."

At least if spills can't truly be prevented, we've got some solutions for you. And as Johnson said, where there is oxi paste, "there is always hope."

Professor Johnson's answers were condensed for space and clarity.

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  • Use a banana peel to polish your silverware -- blend the peels with a little bit of water to make a polishing paste.
  • Cucumber
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  • Use cucumber slices to polish stainless steel pots, pans or your faucet and sink. Also use it to remove marks from walls -- it works like an eraser.
  • Onions
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  • Get your grill piping hot and use an onion half (stuck onto the prongs of a long-handled fork) to scrub the grates clean.
  • Tea
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  • Use your used tea bags (cooled) to clean wood surfaces like cabinets and floors and use the cooled tea as a polish -- the tea's tannins do all the work of cleaning.
  • Walnuts
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  • Use a walnut half to remove scratches from wood cabinetry or furniture -- its natural oils help lift scratches.
  • Rice
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  • Use a small amount of rice to clean out your coffee grinder -- just whizz and dump.
  • Ketchup
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  • Use ketchup to polish all kinds of copper: pots, pans and bowls. The natural acidity of the tomatoes will make the copper shine.
  • Stale Bread
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  • Use stale bread to clean your spice grinder or coffee grinder -- it will remove any leftover residue and smell.
  • Coffee Grinds
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  • Use used coffee grinds as a hand scrub or a cleaning scrub for greasy surfaces. You can also use the grinds to deodorize your fridge.
  • Club Soda
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  • Use club soda to remove stains from fabrics and carpeting. It's also great for cleaning your cast-iron skillet -- just pour some into your hot skillet after cooking and let it work its magic.
  • Olive Oil
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  • Use olive oil to buff your stainless steel pots and pans. Also use it to clean your cast-iron skillet -- make a paste with some coarse salt and scrub.
  • Salt
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  • Coarse salt is great as a natural scouring agent. Use it to scrub your wood cutting board (with a lemon half). Pour some table salt onto an oven spill to make it easier to clean up later. Table salt also works to lift a fresh wine stain from a tablecloth -- wash the fabric soon after.
  • Lemon
  • The natural acidity of lemons is great for cleaning. Use a lemon half to clean and remove stains from your wood cutting board and use it to polish your copper (with some baking soda). It also works to remove lime scale from your kitchen faucet. Put a lemon half down your garbage disposal to deodorize.
  • Vinegar
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  • White vinegar can be used as an all-purpose surface cleaner -- for tough cleaning use it straight but for general cleaning halve it with water. Also use vinegar to remove water stains from glasses.
  • WATCH: 5 Ways To Clean With Vinegar
  • Watch to learn how to use this pantry item to clean rust, kill weeds and more.

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