One of the greatest wine mysteries of all time has been solved – how to get red wine stains out of your clothes.

Boffins at the University of California, Davis have conducted an in-depth study into eight cleaners, from proprietory products to old favourites like white wine and salt. They were tested on a variety of fabrics both immediately after spillage and 24 hours later.

The major shock to generations of party-givers who have run for the salt cellar is that the time-honoured remedy is useless, except on nylon, as is pouring white wine on the stain.

And the most worrying thing is that few cleaners really seem to work. ‘Perhaps the biggest surprise was how ineffective many of the cleaners were,’ reports American journal Wine Spectator. ‘Commercial wine-stain removers were among the least effective treatments for each fabric.’

The cleaner that worked best was a mixture of hydrogen peroxide (a bleaching agent) and liquid soap. Another effective one was Erado-sol, a product used more commercially than domestically. ‘It was the only method effective on silk,’ Wine Spectator informs its readers.

Written by decanter.com staff27 February 2002