Below are tips and tricks to spot clean the most common wedding dress stains. Print these out. Put them in your wedding day emergency kit. Your mind will be at ease knowing you’ve got a fix ready to go. And your bridesmaids will love you!
Here’s a checklist of supplies to you need to to handle stains:
- Baby wipes
- Baking soda
- Bottle of distilled water
- Chaulk in white or off-white
- Clean white cloth or towel
- Club soda
- Cotton swabs
- Dish Detergent (Dawn original Blue or a lemon-based product)
- Hyrdrogen Perioxide
- Rubbing Alcohol
- Plastic storage container with lid
- Talcum powder
- Travel size bottles with labels
- White Vinegar
If you notice a last-minute stain on your wedding gown, stop. Breathe slowly and deeply. You need to relax. And so do your bridesmaids, Maid of Honor, Mother of the Bride or Mother of the Groom.
In all the excitement and turmoil, it can be tempting to rush to rub out the stain. You may mean well. But you can actually make it much worse!
Your first step, after a deep breath, is to determine if your wedding gown is made of silk. If so, any water-based solution should be avoided. Water will leave marks and maybe even discolor a silk gown.
Not sure of the fabric of your wedding gown? Look inside for a care tag. It will tell you the fabric content.
Step two is to diagnosis the culprit that caused the damage in the first place. Only then can you find a fast fix.
Remember, regardless of the type of stain, you should always place a clean white towel or white cloth underneath the layer with the damage. This prevents the cleansing solution from leaking through the layer and (yikes!) carrying the stain to the next fabric layer creating double the damage.
Protein Based Stains
Protein-based stains are best removed without cleansers. First try to absorb the stain onto a clean Q-Tip while you gently blot at the stain.
Gently move the white towel in a circular motion as you work on the stain. This helps the stain come off the dress and onto the towel.
If this fails, create a solution by combining:
- one part ammonia
- one hydrogen peroxide
- one part dish soap
- four parts water
Keep your towel or cloth in place under the stain. Then dip a cotton swab into the cleansing solution. Lightly tap on the stain. Try to gently push the stain through that layer of fabric and onto the cloth below.
Earth Based Stains
- fruit juice
If your wedding gown gets an earth-based stain, immediately dab it softly with this solution:
- three parts water
- one part dish soap
Tip: separate the layers while doing stain removal.
If the earth-based stain is too stubborn to come off, pour club soda onto a clean cloth and dab the stain.
Still seeing a stain? Mask the mark by sprinkling it with talcum powder.
Having an outdoor wedding? Then you definitely risk getting dirt stains on the hemline and train of wedding gown and your veil. Even if you’re saying “I Do” indoors, your gown is still at risk for Mother Nature to leave her dirty mark if you head outdoors to pose for pictures before the ceremony.
Warning! Never rub soil-based stains. Rubbing just makes them bigger which is exactly what you don’t want to happen.
If the dirt stain is completely dry soil, remove it by patting gently with a dry towel. If this fails, try a slightly damp towel to lightly brush off the stain.
If you get a grass stain, it’s best to leave it alone unless it shows in your photos. Then enlist help from your maid of honor or bridesmaid to tuck the stained hem underneath for photos or re-arrange folds in your gown to make the stain less noticeable.
After the wedding, immediately take your dress to a professional dry cleaner that specializes in bridal gowns. Don’t wait until after the honeymoon. The longer the grass stain stays the harder it is to get out.
Have a friend or family member get it to the cleaners ASAP!
Oil Based Stains
Oil based stains include:
- baby oil
- beef juice or gravy
- pizza grease
- olive oil
- sauces from meatballs or chicken or beef juices.
Mix a cleansing solution of:
- one part dish soap
- one part white vinegar
Put a white towel under the stained layer and lightly tap on the affected area with a cotton swab dipped in the cleanser. This forces the oil based stain through the dirty layer onto the towel. After the stain is removed, flush the area with lukewarm distilled water.
If this method is unsuccessful, sprinkle a liberal amount of talcum powder on the stain. Let it dry. Then shake the excess gently off your wedding gown.
Hairspray solves damage done by ink stains. But first test the hairspray on a part of your dress on an underlayer or inner seam that isn’t noticeable. You need to make sure the hairspray won’t discolor or further damage the fabric of your wedding dress.
If the hairspray passes the safety test, place a clean white cloth under the fabric and lightly spray hairspray onto the stain. This will transfer the ink from the dress onto the cloth. Wait about five minutes. Then gently dab the stain with a fresh white cloth - not the one placed under the stain!
Make-up Stains Lipstick Stains
Foundation, mascara, eye shadow, lipstick or lip gloss are tough stains to remove because they are composed of a variety of oil-based materials. That means water won’t work to get out these stain. So don’t waste your precious time.
Never rub a makeup stain. It only makes the damage worse driving it deeper into the fabric of your bridal dress. Instead, grab a baby wipe and gently dab it on the makeup stain. Be sure to put a clean white cloth or towel under the stain before you dab.
You can also try a Tide stick or similar product or cover a cotton swab with make-up remover and dab softly at the stain.
Even better, try to avoid ever getting makeup stains on your wedding day.
If you must apply while wearing your gown, hold a large bath or beach towel in front of you to protect your dress. Most makeup stains wind up on the front of the skirt as a nervous bride drops the stick or tube.
If you notice a stain before the big day, it is highly recommended you take your gown to a professional dry clean experienced in stain removal.