Stain Removal: Why The First Ten Minutes After You Spill The Glass Of Red On Your Carpet Matter

updated: 03/03/2024

A glass of spilt red wine on a white surface

Your swift actions in the first ten minutes after spilling red wine on your carpet are crucial as they prevent the pigments from deeply penetrating the fibres, making stain removal easier. Blotting the spill and applying white wine vinegar can help effectively tackle the stain before it sets.

It is Friday evening. You’ve had a long, hard, productive working week and can’t wait for the weekend to start. You have probably stopped through your favourite takeaway Italian restaurant on the way home and picked a big portion of chicken risotto, sensing the calorie overload you are about to inflict on yourself. 

But the risotto can wait for a minute. First, a nice glass of Pinot Noir to get you in the mood. You have barely filled the glass when your phone/doorbell rings. And before you know it, the glass spills from the edge of the dining table, gravity relentlessly claims it, and the Pinot Noir ends on your creamy white Abingdon carpet. 

Drops of spilt red wine of a white carpet
Image Credit: Gromgull

Minute 1: Avoid The Panic

We know the feeling – you want to scream your lungs out in anger or panic. But we have bad news for you – panic won’t help. Nor will anger, for that matter. So give it ten seconds, gather yourself, take a deep breath, and let’s deal with the catastrophe. Remember, you have read somewhere that the first ten minutes after a wine spill are critical to avoid a persistent stain. And no, don’t call your Mom for cleaning advice – you will lose too much precious time.

Minutes 2-3: Blot The Stain

Go to the kitchen and grab some paper towels. You must blot as much of the liquid as possible before it seeps through to the underpad. Do not apply any pressure or rub the paper towel on the stain – it will only make matters worse. Remember – you are not cleaning yet; you are just removing the staining agent. We know it looks terrible, but cursing or trying to solve the problem by force is not an option. 

Minute 4: Remember The Chemistry Lessons From School

Two minutes of blotting is more than enough – you’ve soaked all the liquid you could have by now. Throw the paper towels in the rubbish bin and go to the kitchen cabinet where you keep your detergents. You have two options:

  • You are lucky, and you have hydrogen peroxide at home. Hydrogen peroxide is a powerful natural solvent and bleaching agent – it will dissolve the wine tannins and make the stain significantly easier to remove. If you have it, mix three parts of it and one part of dishwashing soap. 
  • If you don’t have it at home, a few drops of white wine vinegar or dishwashing liquid will do. 

Minutes 5-6: Apply The Formula To The Stain

Take a microfibre cloth, put a few drops of your solution on the stain and start rubbing it in with soft, circular motions. We cannot stress enough how important it is not to apply too much force. Let the hydrogen peroxide and the dishwasher do their magic – if you follow the tips correctly, you should see a thin layer of white foam forming over the area. The foam indicates that your solution interacts with the fibres and the residual liquid. Do not freak out if the foam becomes reddish – it is actually a good sign because it means the tannins are coming out. 

Minute 7: Take A Step Back To Assess The Situation

Congratulations! It’s been just six minutes since the incident, and you have already done so much! Your prompt actions have probably eliminated the risk of a permanent stain. We can also bet that the blotted area is not expanding – the most certain sign that your actions have not been in vain. So, let’s take another deep breath and solve the problem for good!

A sleeping woman next to a glass of red wine

Minute 8-9: Rinse The Cleaning Solution

By this time, the dissolving foam has soaked down the carpet threads. Remember how the stain was blood-red initially? Now, it is lightly pink, and it is high time we removed any residue from the fibres. Take a fresh microfibre cloth and dampen it with clean, warm water. You do not want to use cold water because it dries out harder and is unsuitable for carpet fibres. Again, do not apply pressure – rub the stained area gently with circular motions. The cleaning solution should have worked its magic by now, and the worst is behind you. 

Minute 10: Enjoy Your Risotto

There is nothing more you can do for now. Let the carpet dry naturally (if it is warm enough outside, feel free to open the windows and doors to create some draft). In the meantime, put the risotto in the microwave oven and enjoy a well-deserved dinner. This impromptu cleaning session must have sharpened your appetite even more. 


We know you will check the stained area the following day – it’s perfectly normal to be worried. A few words of caution – do not forget that you have treated a limited area, so it is natural for it to look slightly lighter than the rest of the carpet. If there are still traces of pink on the surface, you can repeat the procedure we described, following the same steps – it should remove any residue you might have missed the previous day.

If you are not happy with the results even after that, feel free to give Anyclean’s carpet cleaning technicians a call. Our specialised spot and stain removal service is among the best you can book in London.

Oh, and we wouldn’t mind a glass of that Pinot Noir if you care to share!

About the author 

Nick Vassilev

Nick blogs about cleaning. He is a cleaning expert with more than 25 years of experience. He is also an NCCA-certified carpet cleaner. Founder and CEO of Anyclean.