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Cleaning a Wedding Dress

When a dry cleaning service is not available for you, cleaning a formal dress can be difficult. This guide is about cleaning a wedding dress.

Wedding Dress
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January 11, 2008 Flag
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How can I get a 30 yr old wedding dress white again?

Bee from LA

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May 29, 20080 found this helpful

Some of the cleaning methods on this site are very worrisome. Please check out a website that I just found. They have a "museum" method of cleaning and storage that makes more sense. The name of the company is "Heritage Garment Preservation" 1-866-268-GOWN or I have been searching for information to clean and preserve my Mother's 62 year old wedding gown and to display it at my daughter's shower. Good luck to all

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March 1, 20090 found this helpful

Help! My wedding is in 7days now and I just pick up my wedding dress from the dry cleaner and my dress are still have yellow spots because its old! Is there something I can do or should I just buy I new one?

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August 1, 20110 found this helpful

After I got married in the early 90's, vacuum packing was the rage. It kept my dress in good condition for about 10 years, and then I opened it and sold it on ebay. (I had gotten divorced.)

But now, Vacuum packing is no longer the best way to preserve your gown. I guess being in plastic prom permanent creases that you can not get out. And most of all, it keeps you from being able to pull your dress out occasionally to enjoy the memories, but more importantly to inspect it for damage.

Today, the recommendations are to have it cleaned by an experienced wedding gown cleaner. (cleaning is important, because their may be things on your dress like white wine or sprite that you can't even see yet, but may show up later or worse, destroy the fabric. The method of cleaning should be determined by the dress itself. The level of soil, the type of fabric and the types of embellishment will play a role in determining the cleaning method. (Wet or dry and the type of detergent or solvent.) An experienced gown cleaner will know the best way for your dress.

After it has been cleaned, you should hang it on padded hangers, fill in the sleeves and bodice with acid free tissue paper, and cover it in a cotton garment bag to protect it from light (not plastic!). You can also fold it in an acid free box as long as you take it out once a year and refold it to keep it from getting permanent creases. Hope that helps!!

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January 3, 2011 Flag
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How do I clean a do not wash/do not dry clean dress? I am getting married in June and purchased my dress from a thrift store. It isn't terribly dirty or anything; I could wear it as is, but I'd like to clean it to make sure that it looks its best. The label says "do not wash, do not dry clean professionally, spot clean only."

Any ideas for how I can clean my dress? I attached the stock photo of it.

Thanks so much!

By Stephanie from Anchorage, AK

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January 4, 20111 found this helpful
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After my daughter's bridal portraits were made, we noticed a few blemishes on her gown; including grass stains. We took the gown to the bridal shop that it was purchased from for suggestions and the owner pulled out a container of Clorox "Bleach free" disinfectant wipes and proceeded to clean every blemish; even the grass stains. She stated it could even be used on colors. I never would have believed it if I had not witnessed it firsthand. Needless to say, I now keep these wipes in my home and office just for this purpose. If you are skeptic and I wouldn't blame you for being so, with your wedding gown, try this on another piece of clothing in your wardrobe. Congratulations on your upcoming marriage. Remember, if you try this, bleach free wipes.

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January 8, 20110 found this helpful
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Use baking soda, with a clean tooth brush. This will absorb the stains and dirt spots, then wipe with dry fluffy towel The gown is beautiful, just beautiful!

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September 13, 20160 found this helpful

If you are going to hang this dress up, and use it again soon, spot cleaning will do.

If you are "keeping" this dress, it has to be cleaned of any organic debris-it will discolor or rot. Take it to a dry cleaner, and get his advice. I would not do a preservation, (actually, why not take lots of pictures, and donate it)but it must be clean to save even for a few years. Sadly, I learned this with a lace tablecloth. It may look clean, don't trust, clean it!

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January 2, 2012 Flag
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How would I go about cleaning an old wedding dress (30+ years) at home? Could I use the Dryel and do all the metal and buttons need to come off?

By Pam C. from Appleton, WI

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January 5, 20120 found this helpful
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What is the dress made of-chiffon, silk, shantung, satin, velvet, what? Is there beading or delicate embroidery on the dress-it's not just buttons and metal that can cause a problem in cleaning as lustrous beading and embroidery likely contain metals also, to add the lustre.

How much fabric is in the dress-is it going to be extremely heavy (and thus unmanageable) when saturated with the cleaning fluid? Read the Dryel label to see if you can clean your fabric with it, and don't be surprised at any disclaimers absolving them of responsibility should the cleaning job be unsatisfactory-there may be hidden stains from spills, perspiration, etc, that cleaning will unfortunately expose for all time.

If you can afford it, a professional fabric restoration service would be the best way to clean an heirloom wedding gown.

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January 5, 20120 found this helpful

Please don't try to do this at home. Likely this dress is sentimentally valuable to you-invest in having it professionally cleaned. Go to a cleaner that specializes in cleaning antiques and can then package it in a box and tissue that is archival quality.

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January 19, 20120 found this helpful

I'm sorry, but I wouldn't do this at home. You never know what you could do that will damage it. Get it professionally cleaned.

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October 5, 2014 Flag
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My sister-in-law gave me her gorgeous wedding dress to wear and I love it, the only problem is it has dark red embroidery and my future hubby and I do not want red of any sort in the wedding. Can a dry cleaner bleach out the embroidery to make it white? The fabric is 100% polyester as is the lining.

By Anna A

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October 8, 20140 found this helpful

Be sure to ask before you do anything to alter the dress! She may have loaned the dress to you or even given the dress to you but, she may not expect you to alter it in this matter.

The red embroidery floss may be able to be bleached but, it will never be white, and there is a very large chance that the bleaching process will ruin the material in the area of the floss. If you are insistent on using the dress and changing the red floss, do not skimp by taking it to a discount person! Take it to a company or business that has proven success in altering material.

Another option would be to have the entire dress dyed which could change the red to a different color but the dress would not be white.

Good luck,

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May 26, 2010 Flag
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How can I clean my wedding dress at home?

By Diana from Lincoln

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May 26, 20100 found this helpful

You'll ruin it if you try and clean it yourself. Please take it to a professional dry cleaner.

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May 28, 20100 found this helpful

I agree with MCW. It's too important to take chances.

The only other thing I can think of is using Dryel, that home dry cleaning kit. I use it all the time and about the third time around have my clothes professionally dry cleaned.

But again, don't risk it. I know it's expensive, but if you ruin it at home, you might have to buy a brand new wedding gown and that'll be really expensive.

Good luck!

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May 30, 20100 found this helpful

My mother has owned a drycleaners for 10 years. Only once did she ever dry clean a wedding gown. 99.99% of dresses are completely washing machine cleaned. Dry cleaning with completely destroy the gown. So be leery if you do take it somewhere and they tell you and charge you near $200.00 for them to "dryclean" your dress, when as soon as you left they tossed it in a double front loader, set it to wash and hung it to dry.

(My mother told every bride how she was going to clean her dress up front, what most brides are looking for is that their gown is prepared correctly for storage. (the boxes are oversized with a window to see the bodice of the gown without pulling it out, and acid free tissue is used to inhibit yellowing". The boxes themselves are near $75.00. You can use dawn dish soap and a soft nail brush, gently scrub the soiled areas, wash on delicate and hang to dry. if the dress is really big, most laundromats have double/triple load washing machines.

My dress was so big it didn't fit in any washer. My mother and I washed it in our swimming pool. Yup, that's right. There was scarcely any chlorine in the pool at the time, so we dunked and rinsed it right in the shallow end of the swimming pool, then hung it from my mothers deck awning. Wedding dresses are much more durable then you would think.

All of the above are tried and true a countless times over. Hope this helps.

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April 30, 2013 Flag
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Do you guys know how to whiten dresses that have yellowed with age because I want to be able to wear my mother's dress for my wedding?

By Sveta from West Springfield, MA

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May 7, 20130 found this helpful

How to safely restore the white to the dress depends on the fabric. It also depends on your budget, professional restoration is pricey and skyrockets the more detailing like beading, flounces, netting and/or lace, etc, there is on the dress.

At home, all cotton wedding dresses can be carefully soaked then washed in lukewarm water with a gentle soap+a whitening agent like OxyClean or a laundry 'blue' product. Some cotton wedding dresses have lace or net made from synthetic fibres and may not clean as well as the natural fibres, so make sure any lace or net detailing has been done with an all cotton fibre.

Carefully follow the product measuring directions-you use less product in hand washing than in a machine. Too much product in the hand wash water makes a lot harder to completely rinse.

And because even a 'simple cotton wedding dress' will usually have fragile detailing like embroidery and/or beading, it's best to do this by hand in a sparkling clean and well rinsed bathtub. The large space of the bathtub will ensure plenty of room for the many yards of fabric in even the simplest vintage wedding gown to be completely covered with water-the fabric should be able to float loosely during the soaking and washing. Use a very gentle squeezing from neckline to hem, over and over and over again to work the soap and whitening agent through the fibres.

Be sure to rinse well to get all the soap and whitening agent out of the fabric as the residue can cause the fabric to still look dingy and pressing will make things even worse by ironing the residue into the fibres.

Drain the wash water, gently squeezing the excess soapy water as the water drains. Refill the tub with cool water and gently swish and squeeze the gown in the rinse water-repeat the draining and refilling the tub until the rinse water is no longer soapy when you gently swish and squeeze the fabric.

Squeeze as much of the excess water as you can from the dress, then put sections of it between thick absorbant towels and press to remove more of the water. Then place the dress on a flat surface out of the sun (use a clean spread out bed sheet or comforter to protect the gown from the surface you lay it out on). Hanging it may cause distortion of the shoulders and hem, so avoid that if you can.

If the dress is silk, natural fibre satin, or a synthetic like polyester, rayon or taffeta, really your best hope for restoring the white is a professional dry cleaner who specifically advertises expertise in restoring antique and vintage wedding dresses. Again, this can be an expensive option but is the best and usually safest way to ensure your heirloom gown is wearable for your wedding.

Be sure to get all the details of the promised work in writing from the dry cleaner so that you have recourse in case the dress is ruined-it has happened to brides and the only time the courts will award damages is if there is a written promise agreeing all the details.

Make sure you read all the fine print before signing and before leaving your dress; take good photos of the dress before leaving it with the dry cleaner, too.

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