Banish surprise stains with these simple tips.
Woman with spot on dress
Credit: Peter Oumanski

“I just took a linen dress out of winter storage and discovered that it has big yellow spots on it.”

Sheva Sputz, via e-mail

The fix: If the dress is dry-clean only, bring the problem to a pro. If it’s washable, fill the sink with lukewarm water and three to four ounces of OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover ($7.50,, then soak the dress for an hour and rinse in cold water, says Wayne Edelman, the owner of Meurice Garment Care, a dry cleaner in New York City. Line-dry the dress and then check to see if the blotches are completely gone. (Don’t put it in the dryer until you’re sure, because heat can set stains.) If the stains are still there, see if a dry cleaner can remove them. To fend off surprise spots in the future, remember to launder clothes before placing them in off-season storage. “Sometimes clothing that looks clean has invisible splatter marks from oily foods, like salad dressing, or sugary drinks, like white wine,” says Edelman. “These stains oxidize and change color over time.” And never stow garments in plastic dry-cleaning bags; that can mar fabric, too.