How to Remove Last Minute Wedding Gown Stains

Bride eating cookie
Getty: Roy Botterell/Getty Images

There is no such thing as the perfect–no problems, no issues–wedding. Inevitably, something will happen to give a bride pause but wedding gown stains do not have to be one of them.

Of course there are ways to prevent the stains:

  • 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.

    Stains on your wedding gown may seem disastrous but most can be quickly removed or hidden. But like a Boy Scout, 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 actually use.)

    Wedding Day Emergency Stain Removal Supplies

    How to Treat Wedding Gown Stains

    When you encounter a stain, always think like a physician–first do no harm. Never rub or scrub at the spot, you may just make it spread or force the stain deeper into the fabric. First, use a white towel to blot up any moisture or a dull knife to gently lift away any solid residue.

    Or, if it is an oily stain, sprinkle the spot with baby powder to absorb the oil.

    Always spot treat the stain working from the edges toward the inside. Use a cotton swap to apply the cleaning mixture to avoid over saturating the fabric. Keep blotting with white cloths.

    On dresses made from man-made fibers like polyester, most stains are easier to remove than from silk or satin.

    Before you try any type of stain removal stick or wipe, test it on the underside hem to see if there is color change or damage. If you use a hair dryer to dry a wet spot, keep it set on low heat and at least six inches from the fabric to prevent melting or damaging trim.

    Quick Fixes for Specific Wedding Gown Stains

    • Red Wine: Use a white towel to absorb as much of the stain as possible. Dab gently with a white cloth soaked in plain warm water from the outer edges of the stain to the middle. Cover any remaining stain with chalk or baby powder.
    • Oily Food or Grease: Cover the stain with a thick layer of baby powder to absorb oil, let sit for at least 15 minutes, and then gently brush away. Repeat if necessary. Wet a cotton swab with rubbing alcohol and dab from the outer edges of the stain to the middle. Cover any remaining stain with chalk or baby powder.
    • Ink: Start at outer edges of the stain toward the middle with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. Work slowly and change the swab often as ink is transferred. Blot with a clean white cloth. Protect the underside of the dress with an additional white cloth to help absorb the ink. Cover any remaining stain with chalk or baby powder.
    • Lipstick or Makeup: Try a stain removal wipe or stain stick, dabbing at the stain. Cover remaining stain with chalk or baby powder.
    • Blood: Use cool water to blot at the stain from the outer edges toward the center. Blot dry.

    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. Perhaps a fabulous brooch can be added to the gown to conceal the stain and even look chic on the dress.

    If you have a rip in your gown or veil, double-sided tape or even super glue can be used for a last minute repair. And safety pins can solve many issues from rips to securing a button to keeping straps in place. For zippers that stick, rub the teeth with a bar of soap or a candle to lubricate the zipper without staining the dress.

    Remember, most people will not notice the stain or mishap nearly as much as you do.

    Keep it all in perspective and you will have the wonderful day you deserve.