How to Clean a Spot Off a White Dress

Get your dress back to tip-top shape with a few simple household items.
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There’s just something about the color white that seems to draw food, ink and dirt stains to it like a magnet; and for those with less-than-stellar eating skills, wearing white clothing may seem like tempting fate. If your favorite white dress has fallen victim to the dreaded curse, there still may be hope for it. Get that formerly spot-free snowy-white dress back into spotlight by fighting back with some serious stain-busting techniques.

Saturate the entire surface of the spot as soon as it occurs with a stain removal product. These products prevent the spot from setting in and make it easier to remove. If you don’t have a stain remover handy, dampen the spot with cold water or white vinegar and blot -- don’t rub -- with an absorbent towel.

Fill a sink three-quarters full with cold water and add one capful of a detergent containing enzymes. Place the white dress into the water and hold it down until all of the fabric is saturated. Let the dress soak for 30 minutes to help lift the spot.

Remove the dress from the sink and examine the fabric to ensure the stain is gone. If the stain remains, place it back into the water and let it soak overnight. Then, remove the dress and gently squeeze out most of the water. Drain the sink.

Insert the dress into a washing machine and add warm water and one capful of detergent. Turn the washing machine on and wait until it shuts off.

Remove the white dress from the washing machine and inspect it carefully for any signs of the spot. If the spot remains, continue treating it.

Place two aspirin on a plate and crush them using the back of a knife or another hard object. Pour the crushed aspirin into a mug filled with 1/2 cup of warm water and stir to dissolve it. Pour the aspirin water over the area of the dress that is stained. Let the dress sit for up to 3 hours until you can no longer see the spot.

Wash the dress again using warm water and a capful of detergent to remove all traces of the aspirin.

Hang the dress up to air-dry in an area with good ventilation.

  • Do not place the white dress into the dryer if any portion of the spot still remains. The heat from the dryer will set the spot permanently in the fabric.
  • Do not apply bar soap or liquid hand soap to the spot, as they can cause the stain to become permanent.
  • Do not place the dress in the washing machine if the label reads dry clean only. Take the dress to the cleaners to have it professionally removed.
  • Always test the stain removal product on a small area of the dress first to ensure that it does not leave a residue on the fabric.

Kimberly Johnson is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in various online publications including eHow, Suite101 and Examiner. She has a degree in journalism from the University of Georgia and began writing professionally in 2001.