How to Remove Red Wine Stains From Vinyl

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Act fast: Blot red wine spills from a vinyl tablecloth and launder it in cold water.
Act fast: Blot red wine spills from a vinyl tablecloth and launder it in cold water. (Image: samvsmith/iStock/Getty Images)

Some cleaners, such as abrasive ones, aren't appropriate or safe for vinyl upholstery or even resilient vinyl flooring with a protective coating. Discover effective ways to treat a shiraz spill, merlot mishap or other red wine stain on porous vinyl.

Hop to It

While you're enjoying a glass of wine, it can be tempting to be complacent about wiping up splashes, drips or spills, but don't wait -- the sooner you wipe up drops or puddles, the less likely they'll result in unsightly, possibly permanent blotches, especially on porous vinyl. A white cloth or paper towel dampened with cold water should be all you need, if you act fast.

A Little More Oomph

If a red-wine slosh or dribble goes unattended for too long, the wine's tannins, among other properties, can make it difficult to remove from vinyl. Add an ounce of ammonia or gentle liquid detergent to a gallon of lukewarm water, suggests the World Floor Covering Association -- don't use hot water because it can set stains. Wet a white rag with the solution -- dye can transfer from a colored rag in the cleaning process, causing another stain issue -- and then wring out the excess and rub the mark until it lifts. Rinse the cloth with cool water and use it to remove the residue left by the cleaner.

The Stubborn Tinge

If gentle cleaning methods don't remove red wine stains from your vinyl floor, upholstery or tablecloth, you have stronger options. Use a vinyl stain-removing product; refer the label for instructions, which may include using a white rag and rinsing and drying the area well. Alternatively, dampen a cotton pad with white vinegar to clean the tinged area. If you prefer, use isopropyl alcohol -- rubbing alcohol -- instead of vinegar. Either way, rinse and dry the vinyl after cleaning it, so that it doesn't become brittle, damaged or discolored by the cleaner's residue.

Testing: One, Two, Three

Like different stain removers, not all vinyls are created equal, so whatever cleaning method you plan to use, test it in an inconspicuous area first. On a vinyl-upholstered sofa, for example, test a back bottom corner or under a footrest; for vinyl flooring, try the stain remover inside a closet. Rinse and dry the test area, and then look for discoloration, fading or sheen loss. On the stain, a soft-bristled brush may work better than a cloth; never use abrasive pads, such as steel wool, which can damage vinyl. Whenever possible, refer to the manufacturer's care and cleaning instructions for specific recommendations and warnings -- use an approved cleaning method so that you don't damage the vinyl or void the warranty.

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