Updated: Jan 30, 2019
It's a whole lot easier to get rid of unwanted guests before they become permanent residents. Mysterious stains sometimes appear on clothes after a period of time in storage. Faint stains may also appear worse or stains "invisible" to the naked eye may show up only after the garment is cleaned. Making sure clothing is properly cleaned before storage is the best defense against these problems. This is true for all garments including wedding gowns. Club soda and water are good short-term solutions to stains, but they do not remove all of the staining material. It is risky to store a garment that has not been fully cleaned.
The Drycleaning & Laundry Institute, the trade association for professional drycleaners to which we belong, conducted several tests to show how hidden stains can resurface after cleaning if not addressed prior to cleaning. By spilling a juice beverage on a sweater the Institute observed there was no visible stain after it dried. Then, the Institute cleaned the sweater and the heat of the cleaning accelerated the oxidation of the sugars and tannin residues that were in the juice. As a result the "invisible" stain became readily apparent after cleaning.
Next, the Institute stained a blouse with an alcoholic beverage that oxidized and left a faint stain. In this case, cleaning removed the stain, but the next problem became the loss of color that resulted from contact with the alcohol. This is due to the natural properties of alcohol and its ability to remove dyes. Here is a list of some common products that contain alcohol: perfume, skin freshener, after shave, cologne, hair spray, lotions, and some medicines. These dangerous stains can be avoided as long as these are applied indirectly to clothing (by means of applying on skin as opposed to fabric) and are completely dry before coming into contact with fabrics.
The best short-term prevention is to carefully rinse all affected areas with water, taking care to blot, not rub, the stained areas. That will get you through the night. The next best action to take is to get the item cleaned as soon as possible. If you decide to bring the item to us to treat then please inform our counter staff of any spills so that we may tackle them with the best method and hopefully prevent any delayed staining.