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How to Remove Wine Stains From Silk

Jan Burch

Red and white wine stains on washable silk can be removed with home treatments such as rubbing alcohol or dish soap and water.

You've spilled red wine on your favorite silk shirt. Don't worry -- wine spills and stains on silk can be treated if you act quickly -- if the silk is washable and colorfast.

Removing Wine From Silk

Options for cleaning wine stains from washable silk include:

  • Dish soap and water. Rinse the stain under cold, running water. Squirt a small amount of liquid dish detergent over the stain and gently squeeze the cloth to spread the soap through the stain. Rinse thoroughly with cold, running water. Hang the item to dry.
  • Rubbing alcohol. Because alcohol dries quickly, it's less likely to leave a water mark on the silk. Pour 70 percent rubbing alcohol over and through the stain. If the item is large, gently stretch the stained area over a bowl and pour the alcohol through the fabric and into the bowl. Soak up excess alcohol with a paper towel and hang the item to dry.
  • Club soda is a useful quick fix when you're at a party, for example, and nothing else is available. Pour


    club soda or sparkling water over and through the stain. Soak up the excess liquid with paper towels, but don't rub or blot it. As soon as you can afterward, wash the stained area with dish soap and cold water. 

After the silk has dried, examine it carefully to make sure the stain has been completely removed. If it has, you can launder the item as usual. If any of the wine stain remains, take the item to a professional cleaner.


Don't use these treatments on silk that is labelled "dry clean only." If you are not completely sure that the silk is washable, soak up the spill with paper towels and take the item to a professional cleaner as soon as possible.

What Not to Do

Plenty of "home remedies" are recommended for stain removal that are not only useless, but they can even make the stain more difficult to remove. Some things not to do in stain removal, especially when handling wine stains on silk:

  • Don't rub, wring,  or twist the stain, and be very careful when blotting. Any pressure can push the staining pigments deeper into the fibers. The safest way to soak up a spill is to lay some absorbent material, such as paper towels or a clean cloth, over the spill for a minute or two.
  • Don't try to wash out spilled red wine with white wine. This only makes two stains where you previously had one.
  • Don't use salt or vinegar. These substances are used in dyeing processes to fix or set the dye, and they can make the wine stain permanent.
  • Don't expose the silk to hot water or dryer heat until you're sure the stain is completely gone. Heat can set a stain in any fabric.