Baking Soda: Magic Red Wine Removal Powder

Written by our travel & tech guy.  Yes that's a box of wine.

Paul’s currently on a year-long road trip around the states.  While on the road, he’s keeping an eye on the style of the places he visits, and trying not to turn into a total dirtbag.  Follow his other adventures on

Let me set the scene, the scene is important:

I’m in Death Valley.  It’s late.  My wife and I have poured the last of our wine into our glasses and we’re settling down for the night.  Our neighbors, a father and son duo on a bonding trip, invite us over to their campfire to visit.  My wife bails because she’s tired from hiking all day in the sun, but I head over.  I’m game for a bit more action and their supply of wine is more robust than ours.  Everybody wins.

So I join our neighbors . They’ve got a good fire going.  The father is drinking beer, the son is drinking wine out of an empty beer can (they didn’t bring cups), and I’m nursing the last of my wine trying not to instantly dig into theirs.  One thing leads to another and while having my glass literally topped off with maybe my third pint of Franzia “Burgundy” (far from the best boxed wine in the world), the son, who is 21 and pontificating on the finer points of wine appreciation (an expert already), shoots a stream of red wine on my knee.  He doesn’t realize he’s missing my glass at first, but he sees me flinch and move out of the way.

“You alright?” he asks.

“Yeah. That’s good,” I say, motioning him that 16 ounces of wine is enough, cutting him off from overflowing my glass entirely.

My knee is wet with wine, but it’s too dark to see the damage and I’m a bit too drunk to really care.  I don’t assess the situation until the following morning.

At this point, I should admit that I have a problem – I’m a habitual khaki stainer.  Jeans?  Never stain them.  Worsted wool?  I’m neat as can be.  Corduroy?  Spill-free since ’83.  But khaki pants, I always stain, usually within hours of putting them on, then I stain them worse trying to clean them.  I once ruined my favorite pair of pants trying to get out a stain – the soap I used to remove the stain ended up bleaching the knee visibly (and it was regular old soap, not the bleachy stuff).  Other times, I’ve removed stains fine only to find out that under a black light my pants look like a cheap hotel comforter.  Disgusting.

Clean knees. Lefty took the direct hit. Righty got splashed too.

Clean knees. Lefty took the direct hit. Righty got splashed too.

So as I was saying, my pants are stained with red wine, I’m in Death Valley, and I’m miles and days from doing laundry.  When I finally get a chance to clean them days later, I decide to give them a splash of water and baking soda (about 1 teaspoon per cup of water).  When I do this, the stain turns blue and I mourn the loss of my pants, ruined, I imagine.  I launder them anyway and, miraculously, they emerge perfectly clean.

I, unfortunately, will use this trick again, because it’s only a matter of time before I wear those pants and re-stain them the billionth time.  They are, unfortunately, cursed and khaki.

What are your favorite laundry tricks and tips? Share them in the comments.

And if you don’t want to buy baking soda from the local grocery store, you can get a four pound box of it here.