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How to Remove Red Wine Stains from Any Surface

You pour yourself a glass of red wine because you want to destress, help your digestive tract, or, you know, just 'cause it's delicious. But before you take your first sip—eek!—the wine spills on the carpet. Or your blouse. Or somewhere else it's not supposed to be.

Hold the freakout, and instead memorize these tips on how to remove red wine stains, courtesy of Melissa Maker, author of Clean My Space: The Secret to Cleaning Better, Faster, and Loving Your Home Every Day.

How to Remove Red Wine Stains

1. Blot with a paper towel.
Quick! Grab a paper towel and remove as much moisture as you can by blotting where the wine spilled. "Whatever you do, do not rub," Maker warns. "That's just going to grind it in." This step is crucial, so fight the urge to jump right into treating the stain. Otherwise, "the liquid used to 'clean' the stain will spread it around further, making more of a mess for you to deal with long-term," Maker says.

2. Tailor your approach to what you spilled on.
If the spill is on the carpet, "pour on club soda—just enough to cover the stain," Maker says. "The bubbles are going to help break the stain away from the fibers and allow you to lift the stain out." Blot again with a clean paper towel, and repeat the process until the stain lifts.

If you're dealing with cotton, such as on a dress or a tablecloth, use table salt instead of club soda. Dump the salt on top of the stain. Don't be shy—really pour it on there so it can absorb the spill. Wait for it to dry, which could take a few hours or even overnight. Then, wipe the salt off and move onto step three.

3. Treat the stain before throwing in the washer.
If it's a garment rather than a carpet, it's time to machine wash. But first "pre-treat the stain with a laundry pre-treater or dab a bit of dish soap right onto the stain," Maker says. Or, if the item is white or another light color, soak it in a mixture of water and oxygen bleach before adding to the wash.

4. Wash on cold.
Or as cold as the item's care tag recommends, Maker says. Skip the dryer unless the stain is completely gone. "The heat from the dryer will set the stain," Maker says.

5. Leave it to the pros if necessary.
Some fabrics, such as silk and other delicate materials, are best left to the pros. Blot to remove what you can, and then drop it off at a dry cleaner as soon as possible so you don't make it any worse, Maker says.

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