Thursday, May 31, 2012

When Wine Attacks

Dear Bashionista,

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My friends and I love red wine - but the thing about wine is, the more you drink, the more you spill. What's the best way to get out a wine stain without killing everyone's buzz?

Jen E.

Dear Jen,

It might surprise you to know that I am not much of a stain-fighter. I'm much more likely to reassure my wine-spilling guests that it's no big deal, throw the tablecloths in the wash when the time comes and hope for the best - if they come out looking like an homage to Jackson Pollock, I just figure that once the table is loaded with dishes, no one will really notice.

However, if you are lucky enough to own nice things, and keeping them pristine is important to you, you're going to want to act fast. If it's at all possible, take the stained item into another room - nothing stresses out a guest quite like watching someone in a party dress scrubbing furiously at the mess he just made.

1. Fight stains before they happen.

The easiest way to get stains out of white tablecloths? Not having white tablecloths in the first place. Simplify your life and invest in darker colors. Or if you're tempted to go the disposable route, you might consider covering your table in butcher paper. Avoid plastic throw-away tablecloths; they're as tacky as they are wasteful. Butcher paper is recyclable, gives your table a sleek, DIY look, and is great for impromptu sketching.

2. Battle stains after they happen.

So you couldn't bear to throw a party without your starched whites, and they just went and took a wine bath. Here's what you do:

First, blot the offending liquid - never rub. It takes time for a stain to embed itself through the fabric - you want to pull it out, not grind it in deeper. If possible, place paper towels or dishtowels underneath and on top of the stain - if you're lucky, they'll just absorb it on out of there.

Use cold water to fight stains - unless you can use boiling water! If you're talking about a sturdy fabric like a cloth napkin, or a tablecloth you can quickly whisk away, you can position the stain over a large bowl and then pour boiling hot water right through it. What you never want to do is blot with warm water - it will just help the stain set into the fabric.

If you can't remove the tablecloth or the carpeting, then introduce red wine to its arch nemesis: white wine. Club soda is also a brawler. Just apply the crime-fighting liquid of choice to the stain and blot. White toothpaste can also work.

If you've been blotting for a reasonable amount of time and haven't achieved perfection, throw some baking soda down. It will draw the stain up and out.

After the party, throw the cloth into the wash but skip the drier;  if there's any stain left it'll get baked into the fabric. It's better to let it air dry and then put it through the wash again if it needs it.

3. Don't ruin your friend's nice things.

Bad news - if your friend has stained her dry-clean-only dress, treating the stain can do more harm than good. She'll want to get herself to the dry-cleaner's as soon as possible. In the meantime, your best option is to apply paper towels to either side of the stain - and do so right away, while the stain is still wet.

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