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Red wine is a tough stain to remove. If you catch it in time, it can often be successfully treated. The problem is that wine stains tend to happen at a party or social event when you simply can’t drop everything to treat the stain before it dries and sets.
For one, the stain may already be dry by the time anyone notices. Before you know it, a drip down the side of a glass caused by a misdirected pour can find its way around the bottom of a glass, leaving a lovely red ring on the tablecloth. To make matters worse, guests may not openly mention a stain to their host out of embarrassment or sheepishness.
It’s also overly dramatic to ask all guests to remove their plates, glasses, cutlery, serving platters, etc. from the table while you swap the dirty tablecloth for a clean one, especially if the stain is small. Doing so would probably break at least seven rules of party etiquette.
If you catch the stain when it’s still fresh, blot from the top with a dry light-coloured absorbent cloth, make sure the table underneath is OK, but don’t let it ruin your party.
Once the guests have left for home, treat the tablecloth with an Oxy product, then wash according to package directions. If the stain is still there, repeat the treatment before allowing the cloth to dry.
We’ve heard old tales about heavily salting the stain while it’s still on the table, but we don’t have any experience with this method. At best, it may only remove some of the stain while your party continues. And a mound of salt on the table above the stain will certainly be a distraction.
As in so many cases, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Don’t use a cherished antique tablecloth at an event where red wine will be served, or where spills are likely to happen.
It’s also a good idea to protect the table surface before putting down a tablecloth. If the table is wooden, put down a moisture-proof table cover before spreading out the cloth on top.