If clothes make the man, then the wedding gown makes the woman. Let’s face it, nothing says more about a woman than her wedding dress. When you see her walk down the aisle for the first time, it’s like you are seeing her clothed in grace, beauty, poetry, and dreams. Most brides spend lots of time searching for and lots of money on that perfect gown, only to take it off after the reception and hang it in a closet for far too long before having it cleaned. And unfortunately, the longer the gown sits in the closet unclean, the less likely all of the stains can be removed when it is finally dropped off to be cleaned.
Potentially a woman’s most favorite dress she’ll ever wear, and yet the one she might wear for the least amount of time, a bride’s wedding gown is perhaps the most memorable and quintessential icon of the entire wedding event. Whether you need to get one cleaned beforehand for your perfect day or preserved to remember one of life’s precious milestones, there are some important things to know.
For many women, a wedding gown is the most important clothing purchase of their lifetime. It is an investment that should be preserved with the best cleaning and storing methods available. No one wants to take chances with something as precious as a wedding gown. These are our expert tips on how to care for your gown so that it stays in perfect condition for years to come.
Wedding dress preservation and standard dry cleaning are not the same thing
Wedding dress cleaning is not a one-size-fits-all task, so don’t trust your gown to just anyone. Make sure to search “wedding dress cleaning near me”, or “wedding dress preservation near me,” rather than “dry cleaners,” as a specialist will examine your gown’s specific fabric, stitching and embellishments before creating a customized treatment plan.
Be sure to vet your cleaner’s process to ensure your dress is being cleaned or preserved with virgin solvent, rather than a recycled solvent that is typically used for most dry cleaning jobs. Recycled solvents have impurities that can deposit onto clothing.
Talk to them about their wedding dress policies to see if they guarantee full cost of the dress if they end up damaging it in any way and to understand how long they warranty the preservation condition of the dress after the wedding.
Emotional reasons for wedding dress preservation
There are many reasons brides choose to preserve their gowns. Not only does it prevent irreversible future fabric damage, but it allows for options. Perhaps a future child might want to honor you by wearing it at her wedding, or you may decide to increase its value to sell it, even years down the road. Having a stain-free preserved dress may come in handy should a friend or relative or another bride need a gown. Ultimately, you are creating a beautiful memory of your wedding day that you can share with future generations.
Practical reasons for wedding dress preservation
Even if it appears that your dress made it through your night unscathed, invisible stains might be lurking on your wedding gown. Considering that most gowns skim the floor, it’s no surprise that your dress will visibly need a cleaning. But the most precarious stains are often the ones you cannot see. Spills like white wine may dry clear, but the sugar will caramelize over time into dark yellow or brown stains that ordinary dry cleaning cannot remove.
Professional cleaners and preservationists are trained to spot the unseen: splatters of wine, a smudge of lipstick or makeup, or dust from the floor. They will create a specific treatment plan for each stain.
Check garment care labels or any instructions that came with your gown and follow the instructions for best results. Most will recommend dry cleaning or professional wet-cleaning. Unlike traditional dry cleaning, which uses perchloroethylene, GreenEarth solvent will not damage the intricate beadwork, sequins, lace and embroidery commonly found on wedding gowns, and won’t dissolve glue that attaches embellishments to gowns. It won’t shrink your gown or leave it with a funky odor. Cleaning with GreenEarth is like giving your gown a mineral bath—it will come out softer and brighter, with all special trims and details intact.
Always have your gown cleaned before putting it in storage. Check your gown for any visible stains, including graying of the hem where it touched the ground, and point them out to your dry cleaner. Stains from seemingly clear substances like body oils, perspiration, white wine and sugary substances may not appear for some time. Once these have a chance to oxidize, they may show up as light brown or yellow splotches that are difficult to remove. Have your gown cleaned soon after your wedding to prevent these kinds of surprises.
There are many ways of cleaning a wedding gown such as;
- Dry cleaning- Using a chemical called tetrachloroethylene and a dry cleaning machine to remove stains and dirt instead of water.
- Laundry cleaning- using hot water and normal detergents in a washing machine to remove stains and dirt.
- Hand washing- Using water and detergent at home in a basis and hand washing the gown.
This article however will look at how to dry clean a wedding gown using a chemical instead of water and detergent. This is because this is the best method of cleaning a wedding gown even though it’s also quite expensive.
Advantages of Dry Cleaning a Wedding Gown
- Removes all stains, dust and kills any microorganism
- Does not cause color bleeding or shrinking since it doesn’t use water.
- Ensures there is no wear and tear or fading
- Does not react badly with any fabric
- The chemical used to clean strengthens the fabric of the gown and makes it look even better.
Things to do before Dry Cleaning a Wedding Gown
- Check the care label. The first step is always checking the care label so you can be sure of how to clean it and if there are chemicals or methods that are not compatible with that particular fabric. Old, vintage and antique dresses don’t do well under the harsh chemicals used in dry cleaning so they shouldn’t be dry- cleaned.
- Inspect the dress for stains and to see where it’s mostly dirty. Also inspect the trim with the dry cleaner to see if it’s supposed to be dry -cleaned since most of them aren’t. Dyes used in trims tend to fade when after dry cleaning.
- Inspect embellishments and decorations. Most modern decorations are very substandard and they dissolve if mixed with very strong solvents and if they don’t the glue connecting them to the gown will leave the dress without decorations. One must check what kind of embellishments are on the gown and what is holding them to the fabric.
- It’s advised strongly that a wedding gown should never be stored with stains but it should be dry cleaned immediately before the stains become permanent.
- Lastly, do not under whatever circumstances unless you are a professional dry cleaner try to clean a wedding gown on your own. There are things that only a dry cleaner can know so always take it to a professional.
Step by Step Process of Dry Cleaning a Wedding Gown
- After inspecting and approving that the dress can be dry cleaned it’s important to try and remove stains first with a stain remover spray but be careful not to cause discoloration. These stain removers come with the dry cleaning kit, sheet and a cleaning bag.
- Place the gown inside the dry cleaning bag of similar color.
- Place the dry cleaning sheet inside the bag. It contains very little water and perfume. The job of the perfume is to give the dress a fresh scent while the water is used to cause steam that will straighten up the dress like ironing.
- Place the dry cleaning bag and its contents inside the drier for 30 minutes and remove them immediately as the timer goes off to avoid wrinkling.
- Remove the gown from the bag and hang it in a hanger.
- Instead of ironing use a clothes steamer to straighten the gown even more so the decorations don’t melt.
- Store the dress in a cool dry place away from dirt and moisture.
After your gown is cleaned, it is important to store in a manner that will preserve it safely. First decide if you want to store your gown hanging or folded. If your gown is strapless, has very thin straps, or is very heavy, folding may be a better choice because hanging will put a lot of stress on the fabric holding it up. However, if your dress is very thin or of especially delicate material (such as antique lace or silk), you should hang it to eliminate the risk of permanent creasing from folding.
Wedding gown specialists will typically place your dress in an airtight box that has had the oxygen sucked out and replaced with nitrogen, to prevent oxidation and discoloration. Do not break the seal, but if you do, handle the dress with white cotton gloves, and take it back to have it preserved again and resealed. The dress should never be on a hanger, as it can mis-shape the gown, and should be stored in a cool, dark place. Above all, never place it in a plastic bag, unless it’s acid-free plastic, which is what wedding preservation boxes are made of.
It is best to have your gown stored and preserved by professionals at Veribest Cleaners. If you choose to take care of your gown yourself, here are some tips on how to store it safely.
- Plastic garment bags are a definite don’t-they give off undetectable fumes that can severely weaken and damage the garment fibers.
- It is essential that the gown be allowed to breathe, so that mold and mildew don’t have a chance to grow.
- Purchase a special preservation bag, available at many specialty shops, or use a plain white cotton sheet that has been thoroughly washed.
- Cut a hole in the sheet so there is a place for the hanger to go through.
- Use a very wide padded hanger to help the gown keep its shape.
- If you don’t have a padded hanger, make your own by wrapping a white cotton sheet around a sturdy hanger.
- Hang your gown in a dry, dark place in the main living area of your home, not the attic, basement, or garage. Textiles are very sensitive to changes in heat and humidity.
- Take your gown out every two years or so to let it air out and inspect it to be sure nothing has happened to it in storage.
- Use only an acid-free box with acid-free tissue paper. Regular cardboard and tissue break down over time, damaging fabrics.
- Select a box that is large enough. Cramming your gown into a too-small box or folding it too many times can cause permanent creasing and weaken the fabric.
- Wrap your gown entirely in acid-free tissue before folding. Ensure that none of the fabric touches itself.
- Line box with tissue before placing the gown inside.
- Do not seal the box—many wedding preservation services permanently seal boxes for storage in order to keep air and dust out. But if you want to prevent permanent creases, or if you just want to take your gown out and admire it occasionally, make sure the box lid is removable.
- Store your boxed gown in a dry, dark place in the main living area of your home, not the attic, basement, or garage. Textiles are very sensitive to changes in heat and humidity. Condensation can also develop in sealed boxes, creating mildew and mold growth. Make sure your gown has room to breathe.
- Take your gown out of storage every two years or so and air it out.
- Re-fold your gown differently than it was folded before so that permanent creases do not develop.
Looking past the big day, we tend to think about the honeymoon that is to be taken, the thank you cards to be written, and perhaps a new home to be moved into. Make sure you put the dry cleaners in your timeline and budget (usually will cost $250-$750). Optimally, you should send your gown to the dry cleaner the day after your wedding. If you are jetting off to your honeymoon, have a bridesmaid or relative drop it off. Even in as little as six weeks’ time, those stains, some of them originally invisible, will have had time to set.
The experts at Dependable Cleaners specialize in wedding dress cleaning and preservation. Visit our webpage to learn more about our bridal gown cleaning service.
After you pick up your freshly preserved gown, we recommends that you take it home and store it in a cool, dark area. Never store your gown in a basement or attic that’s not climate controlled. Basements can hold excess moisture and attics are vulnerable to extreme temperatures. Both are prone to bug infestations because of the moisture and weather fluctuations.
The secret to dry cleaning a wedding gown is letting a professional do it and following the care instructions on the label carefully. Trying to do it at home might turn out badly so its important to let it get the special treatment it deserves. We will ensure that your wedding gown is well cleaned and has no stains left on it. Their service will leave you fully satisfied.