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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.
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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

0 found this helpful
January 11, 2008 Flag

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 www.HeritageGown.com/restoration 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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January 3, 2011

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, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

Gorgeous dress! I'm sure you can use some type of fabric steamer to deodorize and get small specks of dirt out. If you know anyone who has a hand held shark steamer that would be perfect since it has a fabric attachment. Good luck, and what a thrifty find!

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January 4, 20112 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 2, 2012 Flag

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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October 5, 2014 Flag

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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0 found this helpful
May 26, 2010 Flag

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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April 30, 2013 Flag

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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August 6, 2012 Flag

I need help! I recently took my wedding gown to the dry cleaners and they told me my dress had too much bead work to be dry cleaned there and that the colour may run and ruin the white. They showed me what they were going to put it in and it looked like a glorified front loader washing machine. I need to wear the dress again for a parade in two weeks and am unsure how to get it clean!

By Alice

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August 17, 20120 found this helpful

I would call some more dry cleaners and find out who has experience in cleaning wedding dresses with bead work on them.

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0 found this helpful
September 22, 2014 Flag

How do you get tire marks out of a satin wedding gown?

By M.C. from Pine Bluff, AR

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March 5, 2012 Flag

I have a satin wedding dress that has had its train walked on by the family dog. A few muddy paw prints are in place. The wedding is in a few weeks. Please help.

By Carmel

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March 6, 20120 found this helpful

Oh wow! The bride must be in a complete panic! I would try the dry cleaner first. They'll be able to let you know if it's even possible to get the stains out.

You can try one of these methods, too, if you're on a tight budget:

http://laundry.  l/a/stainsaz.htm

But I'd really consider having a professional do this job.

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0 found this helpful
December 4, 2006 Flag

How do I get a stain out of my wedding dress? It is white satin and lace. The stain is along the bottom, It's probably grass and mud stains.

Andreadjulian from Kettering, OH

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December 5, 20060 found this helpful

If it is washable - there is great stuff called ZOUT - which was orginally made for grass stains on things like kids sports uniforms - Try it on a small are before you clean it otherwise - Most "satin" nowadays is polyester - yours probably is, too - & easier to clean than silk -

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December 5, 20060 found this helpful

I use one scoop of Oxy Clean (or other brand thereof) to 1 cup warm water in a spray bottle I bought at the dollar store. DO NOT shake to mix as it will bubble and fizz. Once the powder is mixed, spray on the stain liberally and blot up excess with dry towel.

This has taken care of countless organic stains problems and also works GREAT for pretreating laundry, cleaning windows of "dog nose spots" (followed by standard window cleaner to get rid of streaks), and so many other pre-treat issues that we've had. It's by far more cost effective than over-the-counter treatments, and isn't just a uni-tasker!

Alicia.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Mothering is my chosen profession.

Proud mother of:

one Heavenly Angel (3/14/04 - 3/15/04)

one Earthly Angel (11/10/04)

one Angel in the Making (1/17/07)

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March 8, 2014 Flag

I am getting married in a couple months and I have a wedding dress that is 100% polyester and the lace is 100% rayon on 100% nylon. It is 7 years old. How can I safely clean it? It says do not wash, do not dry clean, spot clean only.

The lace is very dirty at the bottom and throughout the dress it does look dirty. How can I safely clean the dress? And the lace also has beading. I am very worried and don't want to have to buy another dress. Please help!

By Danielle

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December 30, 2013 Flag

I have kept my mother's pale pink, lace wedding dress with pearl buttons. I would like to wear it to my son's wedding in a couple of weeks, but it has a large dark yellow/almost orange age stain on the front. How can this be removed without altering the original colour of the dress?

Desperate Susan from Sydney, Australia

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May 6, 2013 Flag

How do I clean a 40 year old wedding dress? It has several brown spots.

By Carolyn

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January 3, 2011 Flag

I am trying to figure out how to clean my mother's wedding dress that I have, still in a box for almost 70 years. It is made of a slipper satin fabric and I'm afraid to give it to a dry cleaners. The lace veil is rotted and I had to throw it out, but the dress seems to be pretty sturdy, I just don't know how to clean and store it. Any advice is appreciated!

By Mary Moo from Wilmington, IL

Answers:

Cleaning a Wedding Dress

I would look in the phone book and see if you can a dry cleaner that specializes in wedding dresses and special occasion dresses. I wouldn't try anything myself. (10/18/2010)

By redhatterb

Cleaning a Wedding Dress

I would call all of the bridal stores in your area and ask them which dry cleaning service they would trust the most (you're bound to hear at least one dry cleaners name more than once) and pay the extra for the special tissuing and storage boxing that the ultimately chosen specialist dry cleaner recommends/offers after the cleaning is done. (10/20/2010)

By Deeli

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October 18, 2010 Flag

I just want to ask, how can I wash or clean my wedding dress at home? There are stains of make-up and orange juice on it. Many thanks.

Monnas

Answers:

Cleaning a Wedding Dress

Think it depends on the fabric and ornamentation, if lace or beading etc. You could try to spot clean the stains, but if it has crinoline, lace, satin, etc., best to professionally clean I think. (06/04/2010)

By Amy3e

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June 1, 2010 Flag

I have a small issue; I have a beautiful wedding dress. I'm getting married May 22 of the year. My issue is I have tried my dress on like 3 times and from putting it on I have gotten some oil spots (dirt) from my hands on it. I wash my hands every time I touch my dress, but I don't know how to get it out.

The spots are on the tips of my dress. I love my dress. I hope someone can help me. I'm afraid I will leave water marks if I try to clean it myself.

By Daniella from Plattsburgh, NY

Answers:

Cleaning a Wedding Dress

I would imagine you will have to take it to the cleaners. I wouldn't try home remedies on something that expensive. Why try it on so many times, until it is time to see if it needs to be altered. After cleaning it, use white gloves whenever you touch it, if the fabric is that touchy that it shows spots every time that it is touched. (01/03/2010)

By redhatterb

Cleaning a Wedding Dress

I had to try the dress on once when I got it and once for the fitting and again for the fitting. The white gloves I new about, my mother told me to use them next time. But the dress is being changed to corset back then it's going to the cleaners, thanks. (01/03/2010)

By lilyrosebuds

Cleaning a Wedding Dress

If it is only a small spot, maybe you could put "white out" on it. You know the stuff you use when correcting a typing mistake. (02/15/2010)

By WIsgal

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May 26, 2010 Flag

My sister gave me her hand me down wedding dress. But it has mold and water damage to the dress? Someone please help me with advice on how to clean it.

By Beverly from Kirtland, NM

Answers:

Cleaning a Wedding Dress at Home

I worked at a cleaners for years. We had dresses that people left the tags on and brought in for us to press, some as high as 3 or 4 thousand dollars, silly to me. As for home cleaning, sometimes just washing did the trick, but you have to use a commercial large size washer to do it. If you look at the tag it will probably say, "Do not Dry Clean, Do not spot clean". If you put anything on it to spot clean it you will have a circle that will not come out.

If you wash it, just make sure you take it out immediately after washing. If it does okay, then take it to a cleaner to have it pressed. More than likely they will have you sign a paper that releases them if it ruins the dress. I cannot figure out why they would sell a dress that cannot be washed or cleaned especially at that price. Most of the time if it has no rayon and it says to Dry Clean, you can always wash it. If it has rayon, it will shrink all out of shape. Hope I helped just a little. If you take it by a cleaner, ask them if it will be alright to wash or not. (03/15/2010)

By aloneandtired

Cleaning a Wedding Dress at Home

A pro would use Orvus. (03/16/2010)

By muttmom

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March 14, 2010 Flag

I found my dream wedding dress 2nd hand. Its gorgeous and exactly what I wanted. However it needs to be cleaned. After reading the label, it says do not dry clean and do not wash in washer. I love this gown, but its dirty and has a "I've been in the closet too long" smell. Any suggestions?

By Satinangel from Canada

Answers:

Cleaning a Wedding Dress at Home

Use vinegar to clean the dress. I had under arm stains on mine, the vinegar works. Just put it in the sun, after you apply the vinegar. It may take a few days. Reapply every day till spots ago away. To get bad smell out put in dryer on "air" only for a few minutes, good luck.
(01/27/2010)

By kffrmw88

Cleaning a Wedding Dress at Home

Turn it inside out and then put it in the sunlight. I notice your post indicates Canada, so there may not be enough strong sunlight. Next suggestion, buy a small package of baby bottom wipes and wipe the inside of the garment. I've heard people swear by these wipes for cleaning up every mess imaginable. Good luck. (01/29/2010)

By cookwie

Cleaning a Wedding Dress at Home

Order online or you may be able to locate "A Clear Choice". Market tied up with excellent product used mostly exclusively at the theater and opera. I have it and use it on the most delicate and also the most stubborn stains and spots. (01/29/2010)

By muttmom

Cleaning a Wedding Dress at Home

If it says do not wash in washer, maybe you can hand wash it. Or just soak it clean. You could lay it out flat to dry and maybe blow dry the wrinkles if any with a hair dryer. If you can't wear it like it is you could try. Otherwise I would spot clean it. (01/29/2010)

By Ann

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January 27, 20100 found this helpful

I recently bought an Alfred Angelo wedding dress at a thrift store. It is very pretty, with sequins and such on the top.

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January 3, 20100 found this helpful

My wedding dress is made of satin with some lace overlay. I want to give it to my daughter, but it is too small for her to wear.

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October 21, 20090 found this helpful

How can I remove patches of iron mould marks from a 1930s wedding dress made of very fine satin backed crepe?

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July 29, 20090 found this helpful

I recently bought a wedding dress. The bodice is lace with pearl beads. It is really dirty, like a shopping cart was rolled over it several times.

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January 15, 20090 found this helpful
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January 11, 20080 found this helpful
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