[How-To] Wedding Dress Stain Removal

Years ago, my best friend got married. All of the months leading up to her big day were topped off with a reoccuring dream that included a dreaded, wedding disaster. She would be raising a glass of red wine up in the air to toast the night when it slips, falls, and spills all over her ivory, beaded design she had just shimmied into moments before the ceremony. Thankfully, once her actual day arrived, this never came to fruition. But what becomes of the gowns that it does happen to?

Stains are the #1 ruiner of wedding dresses other than ripping which doesn’t happen as often and, in actuality, quite a bit easier to fix than a stain is. Thankfully, there are ways, tricks, and tips to follow to rid your bridal piece from any unsightly new mark.

Wedding Dress Stain 411

Stains on a wedding gown can happen to everyone and anywhere. The hemline, under the arms, even the bodice and lap area from sitting down and indulging in a quick bite, any of these areas are susceptible to the unwelcomed occurrence.

Types of Stains

During the wedding: Of course, there are ways to prevent something like stains from happening. You could force yourself to refrain from eating or drinking while wearing your sought-after design (although that will be a bit hard with all the toasting that will ensue). But, inevitably, unexpected accidents can and will happen. Just be prepared and try not to panic.

Wine, desserts, sweat, dirt, grass, or even the occasional nosebleed could leave a mark on your ivory ensemble. When you see it happen, your first priority is to not make it worse. No rubbing, no immediate scrubbing, instead you must assess the situation and take into consideration both the type of stain and the dress you’re wearing (see our list of techniques below).

Know that spot treatment will always be your first move. Blotting out the stain and using a q-tip to pick up any excess chocolate, wine, or dirt from the hemline is what you can do to prevent any further hardship before a professional cleaner gets ahold of the gown.

Yellowing: Overtime, once the celebration dies down and you decide to tuck your dress away in the closet, ivory or white can become yellow and your colors can become faded. These kind of stains can be prevented.

By contacting a professional cleaner, you can find out how to not only clean and repair stains from your dress but also have them preserve your gown. Preservation of your design helps to fight against any of the terrors happening to it. Everything from fighting mold, mildew, or yellowing, preservation keeps the gown intact and ready to be passed down to loved once. By doing this, your dress becomes safe from irreversible damage – and stains.

Various Stains Removal Techniques

Oil-Based Stains (i.e. from food or baby oil itself): Dish soap and white vinegar will be your friend with these ones. Tap the stain with a cloth or Q-tip and try to remove as much as you can.

Grass Stains: These ones are really tricky as they’re usually only at the bottom hem of a dress that’s been worn outside and a lot of advice points in the direction of leaving this one to a professional cleaner. But, if you want to take it in your own hands, try mixing water and laundry detergent together and then allowing the solution to sit on the stain for about twenty minutes. After the solution is allowed to sink in, rinse the stain.

Earth-Based Stains (i.e. soda, wine, juice): Get it wet immediately. Preferably, add a bit of dish soap in its flushing. If that doesn’t do the trick, try adding some bleach in as well.

Dirt or Clay Stains: Grab a dry towel and rub away what you can before going in with a damp cloth. Once damp though, do not rub. Instead, just delicately brush off as much as possible.

Protein-Based Stains (i.e. blood or sweat): Don’t go in for the kill with chemicals here. Instead, dab off as much as you can – dab do NOT rub – before creating a homemade solution. Water, ammonia, peroxide, and dish soap come together to create a mixture that can help remove these kinds of stains. But do so with a delicate hand.

Lipstick Stains: This is the doomsday stain of all stains and there’s no real solution to getting these out completely. Instead, it’s best to just steer clear of the possibility all together. Wait to put your lipstick on until after you’ve shimmied into the gown and give all ladies in the vicinity a warning when they come in for a hug.

Other Makeup Stains (i.e. foundation or blush): These aren’t as tricky as lipstick. In fact, you can usually dab these with water or makeup remover to get them out.

Other Tips & Tricks

  • Know your dress and know it well. Know what fabric you’re working with and what your embellishments are made out of. And then, once you’re clued in, do some homework. Make sure you’re prepared to conclude lace with handwashing and cold water or throwing a polyester piece into the washing machine.
  • Never rub only blot. Rubbing a stain will only set the dirt, grass, wine, and such into the fibers of the fabric even further. Opt for blotting and get to the stain as quickly as you can after it occurs.
  • Dry it and iron it. Once you’ve gotten the stain out, use a hairdryer to dry the area. Some even advise us to iron the area once its dry to seal the deal on the removal.
  • Create an emergency stain removal kit. Include: a white cloth, bar of unscented white soap, safety pins, q-tips, double-sided tape, need and thread, baby powder, white chalk, Shout wipes or pen.