How to Get Drink Stains Out of a Prom Dress

by Melissa J. Bell
Double-check the fabric content and washing instructions before any stain treatment.

Double-check the fabric content and washing instructions before any stain treatment.

The embarrassment of a spilled drink may be fleeting, but drink stains left on a formal prom dress can last for the lifetime of the dress if not properly and promptly treated. Natural berry residue in fruit juice and the artificial colors of other juices, coffee and soda easily saturate most fabric fibers and work just like dye, creating a potentially permanent color change. While large stains may need to wait for home treatment, reduce the appearance of smaller stains during a quick bathroom break.

No Crying Over Spilled Juice

Apply soda water, seltzer spray or cold water to juice stains as soon as possible. Do not use hot water, because that will set the stain and make it permanent. Wet the stain from the underside and top side of the fabric.

Rinse the stain under cold water. Stretch the fabric between your fingers so the faucet stream pours through the fabric like mesh.

Rub a small amount of detergent from a stain removal pen on the stain and work it into the fabric with your thumbs. If the fabric is delicate, like tulle netting, do not rub. Leave the detergent for five minutes, and then rinse the stain under hot water. If treating the stain at the prom, dry the clean fabric under the bathroom's hand dryer.

Make a paste of 1 teaspoon of borax and water once at home, if the bathroom treatment did not fully remove the stain. Rub the paste into the stain and let it dry, and then dust off the borax flakes. The flakes should have soaked up some of the stain. Reapply the paste until the stain disappears, then rinse the area under cold water.

Wash the dress as directed in its washing instructions, or send it out for dry cleaning.

Coffee Catastrophes and Soda Splashes

Immediately blot the stain with a clean white napkin or tissue. Apply soda water, seltzer spray or cold water from the underside of the fabric.

Blot the stain repeatedly, adding moisture between blotting, until the stain lifts. Rinse the area under cold water, then dry the dress under the bathroom's hand dryer.

Apply distilled white vinegar to the stain once at home, if it was not fully removed. Blot the stain from both sides of the fabric, then rinse it under cold water.

Launder or dry clean the dress, according to its washing instructions.

Items you will need

  • Soda water or seltzer spray
  • Stain removal pen
  • Faucet
  • Hand dryer
  • Borax
  • Measuring spoons
  • White napkins or tissues
  • Distilled white vinegar


  • If the prom dress is listed as dry-clean only, immediately sponge the stain with cold water and take it to the dry cleaner's once you can. Point out the stain and its cause for the best possible result.


  • The Queen of Clean's Complete Cleaning Guide: Banish Dirt From Your Castle; Linda Cobb
  • Cleaning and Stain Removal for Dummies; Janet Sobesky

About the Author

A writer with a Bachelor of Science in English and secondary education, but also an interest in all things beautiful, Melissa J. Bell has handed out beauty and fashion advice since she could talk -- and for the last six years, write for online publications like Daily Glow and SheBudgets.

Photo Credits

  • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images