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So You've Gone And Puked Red Wine On The Carpet ... What Now?

Photo: Raj Eiamworakul (Unsplash)
SqualorJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert and advice columnist. She’ll be here every week helping to answer your filthiest questions. Are you dirty? Email her.

Jolie, you have to help! I threw up last night on our bedroom floor (I thought I was in bathroom?) and now our carpet is stained with a red wine puke stain! I tried the carpet cleaner we had, but it didn’t really help. Any suggestions??


Help is here, help is here, help is here! I have suggestions, and also Advil. Take two, maybe with a Berocca?

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Okay so when you say “the carpet cleaner we had” I’m gonna guess you mean Resolve. And look, Resolve is great stuff that every home with carpet and/or upholstered furniture (so? All of them?) should keep around in the event of spills or, um, barf. Buuuuuut … when we’re talking about red wine puke on carpet? Yeah, no Resolve won’t really do much and here’s why — red wine puke is a combination stain (which basically just means there are two different stain types in need of treating), and an especially tricky combination at that, which means we need to bring in some Science and also probably some specialty products.

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Here’s the jam with red wine puke stains: The combination of stains is tannin (the red wine that you puked up) and protein (the, um, other stuff in the puke that you puked up). And here’s the jam with the Science part of things: When you have a combination stain involving tannins — so, your red wines, your coffees, your teas — you’ll need to treat the tannin stain first, otherwise there’s a risk that the treatment for whatever the other stain is will set the tannin stain. I know, this is far more Science than your red wine puke hangover should have to process but it’s important stuff!

To treat the red wine stain, your best bet is going to be Wine Away. For use on carpet, saturate the stain with the Wine Away and then LEAVE IT ALONE FOR FIVE MINUTES. The idea is to let the stain remover penetrate the stain and begin to break it down before you go in to do any sort of scrubbing. Then, after that, blot the stain with a damp rag until the stain is gone, repeating the process of saturating, letting the treatment penetrate, and blotting as needed. If you can’t get your hands on Wine Away, a good alternative is hydrogen peroxide. Two quick notes on using hydrogen peroxide for stains: 1. If you don’t already have it in the house and you need to go out and buy a bottle, opt for the spray bottle since it makes applying the product to stains so much easier; 2. always-always-always test it out in an inconspicuous spot before going to town, as hydrogen peroxide can have a bleaching effect on certain textiles and dyes.

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Now then, that should be enough to completely remove the stain, but in the event there’s some lingering puke stains — which, reminder, are stains of the protein variety — you can apply an enzymatic stain treatment like Zout or Krud Kutter Sports Stain Remover to the area in the same manner as the Wine Away was used.

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HOWEVER. It may be the case that the stain is stubborn enough that you need to bring in some TOOLS. If the stain is lightening up but not really budging as much as you’d like, start by introducing an old toothbrush to the festivities. Sometimes a lil extra agitation is needed to help work stain treatments into fibers so that they can break down the offending matter. If bigger guns are needed — which, real talk? They may well be considering we’re dealing with a red wine puke stains — a portable carpet and upholstery cleaner like the Little Green Machine or the cordless Stain Eraser Carpet Cleaner is the way to go.

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About the author

Jolie Kerr

Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast Ask a Clean Person