Red wine is deeply-pigmented liquid that can easily ruin any type of clothing if the stain is not taken care of the right way. Most methods for removing red wine only work if the stain is treated soon after the spill. Once the wine sets into the fabric, or has been dried into it, it can be very difficult to get it out of a t-shirt.
Putting a t-shirt with a red wine stain on it into the washing machine without some type of pre-treatment will generally not be successful. If the spill just happened, blot the stain with anything you have available. A paper napkin, a cotton towel or even an older t-shirt that you never wear anymore will be absorbent enough to get much of the red wine out of a fresh spill. The more you can blot out of the spill, the better the outcome will be for your t-shirt.
Once you can’t blot anymore of the wine, start a pre-treatment. There are a number of commercial pretreatments on the market that can be used to soak the t-shirt in, or a pre-treatment stick or spray can put the treatment right onto the stain. To make a difference against red wine stains, the stained area will have to soak for at least several minutes to lift some of the wine out of the fabric.
If this treatment isn’t successful at lifting some of the stain out of the t-shirt, there are a few alternative treatments. The pre-treatment solution can be mixed with about a teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent and a cup of hydrogen peroxide. If you don’t have any liquid detergent on hand, liquid dish soap will work just as well. Mix these items together and soak the affected area of the t-shirt in it for at least 10 minutes. If the t-shirt is a bright color, you might try a color test with the hydrogen peroxide before soaking the shirt. This can be done my applying a small dot of the peroxide to a small portion of the t-shirt to make sure that the chemical will not strip the intended color out of the t-shirt.
Once the treatment has soaked into the fabric for the required amount of time, rinse the area thoroughly with cold water. If the stain doesn’t seem to be lifting, let the t-shirt soak in very cold water for about 10 minutes. This will likely remove some of the wine if the stain isn’t too old.
For an older stain on a light-colored t-shirt, using regular laundry bleach should get the wine stain out of the t-shirt. This works well on a white t-shirt, but a light colored shirt that isn’t white may still have a noticeable mark, though it will be less noticeable than the wine stain would have been. To apply the bleach, use a laundry bleach pen or use a cotton swab to dab a little bleach onto the wine-stained area. After a few minutes, rinse it away with cold water and wash the t-shirt in the washing machine.