You Stained Your Wedding Dress - What To Do Next
Updated: Jun 26
After weeks and months of careful planning one clumsy moment can result in an unsightly stain on your wedding dress. Whether you go in for a hug with your grandma and she lands a bit of lipstick on your wedding dress or your hilarious cousin Michael accidentally spills a splash of wine on you during a speech, getting a stain on your wedding dress can feel like one of those crazy slow-motion moments you can't do anything about. If this happens to you, don't stress! This doesn't have to ruin your day...or your dress. Rather than going into a complete panic, take a deep breath and know there are a few things you can do if you plan to keep the dress after your wedding.
Be Prepared and Act Fast If you're planning to have an emergency kit for your wedding day, you'll want to include cornstarch, baby powder, an equal blend of white vinegar & water and a soft-bristle brush to quickly address minor stains. After noticing a stain on your wedding dress, time is of the essence. Resist the urge to frantically scrub that stain since the harsh activity will damage the delicate fabrics and cause the stain to spread.
Know your fabric. For example, silk fibers demand special care since it is a protein fiber. Satin doesn't react well to water and has a tendency to pucker. Organza's fibers are so delicate that the slightest bit of friction can cause snags. While all of these following tips are applicable to wedding dresses, the stain advice below also applies to couture dresses and dyed fabrics, so you may be able to follow this advice if you're in a bind at your rehearsal dinner or any other wedding events and wearing a woven fabric dress. It's also good information to know in case a bridesmaid notices a stain on her dress before the processional.
Surprisingly, hairspray isn't just for keeping your curls in place often this can also hold liquid stains in place stopping the spread. Always be sure to test a tiny swatch on the underside of your dress to test the effects, but if no discoloration occurs. For more viscous spills like nail polish, you can apply a small amount to that nail polish spill and let it sit for several minutes. Then dab it dry with a clean cloth. This also works well for ink stains. Nail polish remover will sometimes work as well, but often acetone will discolor the fabric, so be sure to test it first. Now if makeup is your nemesis, just know that nothing will fully remove brightly pigmented lipstick or lip gloss short of a professional dry cleaner, however, we recommend blotting the stain as thoroughly as possible with a damp cloth. Then coat any lingering stains with baking powder or chalk to draw out the additional oils.
If you're wrangling with a blood stain from a blister or pin prick, dampen a Q-tip with your own saliva (seriously!!) and blot out the stain. If this does not work, heavily diluted hydrogen peroxide will also do the trick. (Five parts water to one part peroxide.)
Oily Stains For oily stains like lipstick or makeup, start by gently brushing the excess matter off with a dull edge knife. Remove as much as you can by pulling it away from the fabric. Next, apply powder, which will adhere to the stain. It's okay to leave it there because it's a masking agent, so it'll mask the color of the stain while absorbing some of the oils in the stain. After a half hour or so, simply brush the powder off and leave it alone. If you plan to preserve your dress, again you'll want to get it to a professional as soon after the wedding as possible.
Grass, Mud, Soil Grass stains, mud, and soil should be left alone on the wedding day so they don't embed more into the threads. Any type of liquid applied to any stain, if not flushed and dried properly, will complicate the stain and make matters worse. A professional cleaner can address these complex stains after the wedding.
There is an old wives tale that states if you dilute red wine stains with white wine it will lessen the stain. While this seems to make logical sense, you are really only adding more liquid to an already bad stain and likely causing it to run. First off, don't cry over spilled wine. Have someone blot the stain with a white cloth or paper towel starting from the outside edge of the spill towards the center to prevent spreading. Once that has been absorbed, continue dabbing with club soda or sparkling water to further break down the stain and minimize the damage. Remember, do not rub or you will damage the delicate fibers of your dress. If your venue has a kitchen, get some dishwashing liquid on your stain quickly after blotting to counterbalance the acidity. Wash the cloth you are using and reapply if the stain is deep then use a dry cloth to pat dry. Once you've completed these steps, camoflauge that stain with baking or talcum powder until you can bring it for professional cleaning.
Stain Sticks and Cleaning Products
Don't use them. Simple as that. It may seem like a quick fix but it can lead to stain spreading as well as unforseen damage to delicate fibers. Its best if you blot and absorb as much as possible at the time of the stain then disguise it as best you can with chalk or talcum powder to continue to combat the stain. Don't wait to long to have it professionally cleaned, either. The longer you delay the more permanent those stains will become.
Post Wedding Cleaning
Professional cleaning is the first step in wedding dress preservation. The sooner you can get your gown to the dry cleaners the better. Often, we see brides waiting up to six weeks before they take their dresses in to be cleaned. This is detrimental as by that time, stains will have had time to set in permanently. Especially if you have stains that you don't even realize are there such as white wine and other things dry and clear. These stains contain sugar that caramelize over time into dark brown stains that are nearly impossible to remove. Find a cleaner who specializes in wedding dress cleaning. They are trained to spot those unseen stains. You will also want someone who uses a virgin solvent rather than a recycled solvent. Recycled solvents, which are most often used for dry cleaning, have impurities that can redeposit on to clothing and leave your gown with a strange smell. Most importantly, pay attention to your label. If it says "Dry Clean Only with Petroleum Solvent," listen to it and make sure your dry cleaner has the appropriate cleaning solutions for your gown.