How to Remove Fresh Stains from Your Wedding Gown

How to Remove Last-Minute Wedding Gown Stains

The Spruce / Hilary Allison

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 30 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins - 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5-20

A stain on your wedding gown may seem disastrous but most can be quickly removed or hidden; however, you must be prepared. Several weeks before the big day, grab a small tote bag and put together an emergency stain removal kit. This is a great wedding shower gift that every bride will use. Inevitably, something will happen to give a bride pause but a last-minute wedding gown stain doesn't have to be one of them.

The Dos and Don'ts of Removing Fresh Wedding Dress Stains

  • Don't rub or scrub the stain.
  • Do use a white cotton towel or paper towel to blot away liquids.
  • Do place an absorbent towel under the stain as you remove it from the top layer of the gown.
  • Do use the edge of a spoon, a dull knife edge, or a credit card to lift away solid residue from the fabric.
  • Do spot treat the stain working from the edges of the stain toward the center to prevent spreading the stain.
  • Do test any cleaning product, even water, on an interior seam to make sure there is no damage to the fabric.
  • Do not use a hairdryer on high heat to quickly dry the freshly cleaned area to prevent damage to the fabric, trim, or beading.
Stain Type  Ink, Makeup, Mud, Grass, Blood, Grease, Red Wine, Flower Pollen 
Detergent or Stain Remover Type  Depends on type of stain
Water Temperature  Cool to Warm
Cycle Type  Spot clean only
emergency wedding dress stain remover supplies

The Spruce / Michelle Becker

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 to 2 white cotton towels
  • 1 handheld hair dryer
  • 1 spoon, dull-edged plastic knife, or credit card
  • 1 bar of white soap
  • 1 sewing kit with needle and thread to match wedding dress
  • 1 box of safety pins

Materials

  • 1 container of cornstarch or talcum powder
  • 1 bottle of isopropyl rubbing alcohol
  • 1 container of stain removal wipes or stain removal pen
  • 1 box of cotton swabs
  • 1 roll of double-sided tape
  • 1 bottle of uncolored dishwashing liquid
  • 1 box of white or off-white sticks of chalk
  • 1 roll of white paper towels

Instructions

How to Remove Fresh Red Wine Stains From a Wedding Gown

  1. Blot Away Moisture

    Use a white towel to absorb as much of the wine as possible from both sides of the stain. Blot every layer of the gown including overlays and the lining.

    Blotting a red wine stain on a wedding dress

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  2. Dilute the Stain

    With an absorbent towel under the stain, dab the stain gently with a white cloth soaked in plain warm water from the outer edges of the stain to the middle. Keep moving to a clean area of the towel as the stain is transferred. It does not need to be sparkling water—the bubbles don't assist in stain removal.

    Diluting the wine stain on the wedding dress

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  3. Try a Stain Remover

    When most of the stain is gone, follow the label directions on a stain removal pen or wipe. Or, mix a solution of one part dishwashing liquid and three parts water and gently apply to the stained area. Dip a cloth in the solution and wring until just damp. Blot and keep moving to a clean area of the white cloth as the stain transfers.

    Blotting the red wine stain with a fresh cloth

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  4. Allow the Stained Area to Dry

    It's best to allow the area to air-dry. If you are in a rush, use a hairdryer set on low heat. Hold it at least six inches from the fabric and keep the air moving.

    Accelerating the drying process

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  5. Cover Any Remaining Traces

    Use white or off-white chalk or talcum powder to cover any remaining discoloration.

    Using chalk to cover remaining traces of red wine

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

How to Remove Fresh Ballpoint Ink Stains From a Wedding Gown

  1. Grab Some Alcohol

    Dip a cotton swab in isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol. You will need multiple swabs.

    Tip

    Clear distilled spirits like vodka or gin will also remove the ink.

    Dipping a cotton swab into isopropyl alcohol

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  2. Protect the Rest of the Gown

    Protect the other layers of the gown by placing a white cloth under the stain to help absorb the ink.

    Taking measures to protect the rest of the wedding gown

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  3. Start at the Edges

    Start at the outer edges of the stain and work toward the middle with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Work slowly and change the swab often as the ink is transferred from the fabric. Blot with a clean white cloth.

    Using a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove an ink stain from a wedding gown

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  4. Dry and Camouflage

    Allow the stained area to dry and cover any remaining stain with chalk or baby powder.

    Attempting to conceal the ink stain with chalk

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

How to Remove Fresh Grease or Oily Food Stains From a Wedding Gown

  1. Soak Up the Stain

    Do not rub, remove any solids by lifting them away from the dress. Cover the stain with a thick layer of baby powder or cornstarch to absorb the oil, let sit for at least 15 minutes, and then gently brush away. Repeat if necessary.

    Soaking up an oil stain with powder

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  2. Use Alcohol to Break the Greasy Bond

    Wet some cotton swabs with rubbing alcohol, vodka, or gin and dab from the outer edges of the stain to the middle. Allow the stained area to dry.

    Using a cotton swab to remove a grease stain from a wedding gown

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  3. Camouflage Any Remaining Discoloration

    Cover any remaining stain with chalk or talcum powder.

    Using chalk on a grease stain

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

How to Remove Fresh Makeup and Lipstick Stains From a Wedding Gown

  1. Lift Away Solids and Dry Powders

    • Do not rub, use the edge of a credit card or a blunt knife edge to lift away blobs of foundation or lip gloss.
    • Use double-sided tape around your hand or a hairdryer to remove colored powders.
    Lifting lipstick solids from a wedding gown

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  2. Absorb Oil

    Use baby powder or cornstarch to absorb oily residue. Sprinkle on and allow to sit for at least 15 minutes.

    Pouring powder onto lipstick stain remnants

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  3. Treat the Stain

    Place an absorbent white cloth under the stain. Working from the outside edges of the stain toward the center, use a stain remover pen or wipe to gently rub the stain. You can also try a tiny dab of makeup remover on a cotton swab.

    Treating a lipstick stain on a wedding gown

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  4. Hide the Evidence

    Grab the chalk or baby powder to hide any discoloration.

    Hiding the remnants of a lipstick stain on a wedding gown

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

How to Remove Fresh Blood Stains From a Wedding Gown

  1. Blot Away Blood

    Blot away fresh blood with a white paper towel or cotton towel.

    Blotting a blood stain on a wedding gown

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  2. Dilute the Stain

    Place a white towel under the stain. Dampen a cotton swab with saliva (it has enzymes that help remove the bloodstain) or cool water and dab the stain. Work from the outside of the stain edges toward the center. Keep moving to a clean swab as the blood is transferred. Treat any underlayers that might be stained.

    Diluting a blood stain on a wedding gown

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  3. Dry and Camouflage

    Allow the fabric to air dry and camouflage any remaining discoloration with chalk or baby powder.

    Using chalk on a blood stain

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

How to Remove Fresh Mud and Grass Stains From a Wedding Gown

  1. Allow Mud to Dry

    If possible let the mud dry so it can be brushed away without smearing before treating the stain. If there isn't time, lift away any solids with a dull edge and blot away as much moisture as possible.

    Letting mud dry and scooping away solids

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  2. Treat the Stain

    Place a white towel under the stain. Start at the edges of the stains and use a stain removal wipe or stain removal pen to work toward the center. Keep blotting with a white towel to absorb the soil, moving to a clean area of the towel. Treat all underlayers that are stained.

    Blotting the stained area of the wedding gown

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  3. Grass Stains

    Grass stains are difficult to remove quickly so unless the stain is above the hem edge of the gown, leave it alone. If you need to camouflage the stain, use baby powder or chalk.

    Grass stains on the bottom of a wedding gown

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

How to Remove Fresh Pollen Stains From a Wedding Gown

  1. Lift Away the Pollen Grains

    Use some double-sided tape to carefully lift away the grains of pollen from flowers, especially lilies which leave bright yellow stains. Avoid rubbing as much as possible. If you rub, the pollen will go deeper into the fabric and won't come out. It is nearly impossible to remove pollen stains quickly, so don't try. You'll just make a bigger mess.

    Using tape to remove pollen stains on a wedding gown

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

  2. Cover the Stain

    Hide the stain by covering it with cornstarch, baby powder, or chalk. Mix the powders until you find a shade that comes closest to matching your gown.

    Using chalk on pollen stains

    The Spruce / Michelle Becker

How to Prevent Fresh Stains on a Wedding Dress

  • No eating or drinking while wearing your gown and veil.
  • Apply make-up and hair products before putting on the gown.
  • Step into the gown or use a silk cloth over your face when putting on the gown.

Last-Minute Wedding Gown Repairs

Depending on how much time you have, even seemingly impossible situations can be saved.

  • If the stains won’t come out, the evidence can be hidden with a lace appliqué or additional beading.
  • Add a fabulous brooch to conceal the stain.
  • Use a sewing kit, double-sided tape, or even super glue for a last-minute rip.
  • Safety pins can hide rips, secure a button, or keep straps in place.
  • For zippers that stick, rub the teeth with a bar of soap or a candle to lubricate the zipper teeth without staining the gown.

At the end of your wedding celebrations, be sure to have your gown professionally cleaned. Point out any stains to the cleaner and have repairs made by a professional.