The Most Common Wedding Dress Stains and How to Fix Them

When it comes to potential wedding-day disasters, getting a stain on your wedding dress is one of the most frequent types of wedding emergencies. Fortunately, there are ways to get rid of (or mask) wedding-dress stains quickly and efficiently—you just need a few household items, most of which are readily available at drug stores or from a hotel concierge. So instead of getting anxious thinking about the what-if’s, take preventative action, have a general sense of how to remove the stains and be prepared!

Photo: In His Image Photography

Wedding Dress Stain Before the Wedding:

Before your big day arrives, you try your dress on several times because (duh!) how else will you see how wonderful you look in it? But then, a terrible thing happens. Immediately take it to a high-quality dry cleaner. If you can’t afford to take it to the cleaners, you can try one of the methods below, but it is highly recommended that you let the professionals handle it.

Wedding Dress Stain at the Reception:

Don’t panic… Most of the pictures have already been taken and everyone has already seen how beautiful you look. Quickly assess the situation – ask your bridesmaids how noticeable the stain is. Since emergency treatments may make a stain spread or become more noticeable, it may be better to leave it alone. If you must treat it, make sure you use the correct treatment for the type of stain.


Makeup Stain

First things first – DO NOT rub at the stain, which can cause it to spread or set deeper into the fabric. What you need to understand about makeup stains are most of them, especially lipstick, mascara, and cream foundations are oil-based. Using only water will not remove the stain but can actually make it worse. Scrape off any excess makeup with a spoon and blot first with a dry cloth. Then, follow these steps:

  • Wet the end of a clean towel with cold water. Do NOT use hot water as this can cause the stain to set into the fabric.
  • Put a tiny bit of dish soap onto the towel (A little bit goes a long way)
  • Starting at the edge of the stain, rub lightly in circular motions, working your way toward the middle. The pressure you should apply depends on the material of your dress. If it’s made of polyester or cotton – put some elbow grease behind it. If it’s made of a more delicate material like silk or satin, use a lighter hand.
  • Alternate between rubbing with the wet soap and dabbing gently with a dry towel. Make sure you don’t saturate the dress with too much water, which can leave a visible mark. Allow the dry towel to lift the stain from the fabric.
  • If you decide to blow dry the spot when you’re finished, keep the dryer at a respectable distance. The last thing you need is to melt a part of your dress.

Red Wine, Coffee, Grass, or Mud Stain

First, gently dab at the stain with a clean white cloth. Then pour water or club soda onto the cloth, and dab some more. Whatever you do, do not rub! You can also mix a drop or two of mild dish detergent and in a cup of water with white vinegar or lemon juice.  Keep dabbing with clean parts of the cloth until it seems like most of the stain has come out. Use chalk or talcum powder to disguise anything that doesn’t come out.

Photo: Ashley Holloway

Greasy or Oily Food Stain

In a cup of water mix a drop or two of dish detergent, laundry detergent or shampoo.  Sprinkle talcum powder liberally over the stain on your wedding dress. Wait about ten minutes, then shake the excess off.

Ink Stain

Ink is one of the toughest stains to remove quickly.  The solution to getting ink out is hairspray, believe it or not! Test the hairspray out on a discrete portion of your wedding dress – perhaps the inside of the hem – before using it on the stain, as hairspray may mark the fabric. Put a cloth behind the fabric, then spray the ink stain lightly. Wait five minutes, then dab gently with a damp cloth.


Blood Stain

If the blood is still wet, moisten a cotton swab with your saliva (or the saliva of the person whose blood it is), then gently rub it over the stain. It should come out. If it’s dry, or nearly dry, dab the blood stain gently with very cold water on a white washcloth. Hold the cloth on the spot and see if blood breaks down and comes out. If that doesn’t work, see if there is a first aid kit nearby with hydrogen peroxide, and dilute it (one part to nine parts water). Careful, hydrogen peroxide can bleach fabrics. Use the diluted solution to dab at the stain gently. When it starts to break down, you must go back to plain cold water. Use chalk or talcum powder to disguise anything that doesn’t come out.