Deep breaths, it's going to be OK.
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An unwelcome substance on your beautiful wedding-wear is a bride's worst nightmare. But if you happen to find yourself with an unexpected accent that's, well, an accident, here's your guide to fighting even the most awful stain.
If you spill something on your wedding dress, the first thing to remember is to stay calm, says Laura Mease, owner of Laura's Couture Collection in Shawnee Mission, Kansas. "Don't panic, because you can make the stain worse [rather] than leaving it alone," she says. Also, make sure to test the cleaner somewhere on the dress that won't be noticed to make sure the fabric doesn't damage. If possible, "always separate the layers of the gown," Mease says. "So the spot doesn't go underneath the layer, making it worse. Put a white towel underneath the spotted layer, while removing the stain to absorb from underneath." Also, avoid rubbing the fabric so as to not tear the layers of the gown, the expert advises. And lastly, always take the gown to a professional cleaner as soon as possible after the wedding. "The sooner they get it, the more likely they can get the stain out," Mease says.
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Think blood, sweat, milk, eggs, ammonia, or saliva stains. Mease says to try staying away from chemicals or cleaners. "I always use a Q-tip to dab it off." If that doesn't work, combine 4 parts water + 1 part ammonia + 1 part peroxide + 1 part dish soap and put a white towel or absorbent cloth under the garment with the stain. Using a Q-tip or rag dipped in the solution, lightly tap on the stain, which will push it through to the cloth underneath. Rotate the absorbent cloth as the stain comes out.
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If you find yourself dealing with a fruit juice, tea, cola, liquor, or wine spill, try flushing it immediately with a solution of 3 parts water + 1 part dish soap. If the residue doesn't come out, apply 1 part water + 1 part bleach.
It's important to remember to separate the layers while removing, Mease says. And if you want to be extra careful, "be sure to take to a professional dry cleaner with experience with wedding dresses, especially if your gown is silk," she adds.
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Remove dirt from your dress by first rubbing it with a dry towel, Mease says. Key word is dry. "Otherwise, generally a damp cloth may work," she adds. "And lightly brush it off. Do not rub."
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If your backyard wedding or picture-taking leads to a grass stain, leave it alone, Mease advises. Grass stains will "generally be at the bottom, and most likely won't be noticed," she adds. Trying to remove the stain yourself may lead to stretch, and affect the hem and length. "Leave it to the professional cleaners after the wedding," she says.
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Got some grease on your gown? Whether the pizza, baby oil, olive oil, or sauce variety, try mixing a solution of 1 part dish soap + 1 part white vinegar, putting a white towel or absorbent cloth under the fabric, and lightly tapping on the stain with a Q-tip or rag dipped in the solution. This will push it through to the cloth underneath. Rotate the absorbent cloth as the stain comes out and flush the stain area with lukewarm distilled water.
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These are the "riskiest of stains," says Mease, because "they are all made of something different." It's likely that you won't be able to remove the more permanent lipsticks, she admits. But to be safe, test removal solutions before the wedding. Make sure to avoid putting lipstick on while in the gown, the expert advises, and if so, make sure there's a towel held in front. "This is the No. 1 panic call I receive before the bride walks down the aisle," Mease says. "If this happens, hopefully the flowers will cover the spot!" Also, make sure to blot, not rub.
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In the case of a makeup stain, "try to dab or brush lightly with a damp cloth or makeup remover," Mease says.
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If tears of joy have caused a mascara mishap, place eye makeup remover on a Q-tip and use a light touch. It may lift the black, but may also leave a ring on your dress, Mease says. Although, the ring may likely be less noticeable than the original stain.