Cleaning a Wedding Dress

January 11, 2008

Wedding DressHow can I get a 30 yr old wedding dress white again?

Bee from LA



By Mary (Guest Post)
January 11, 20080 found this helpful

I found what looked like a wad of curtain material, all brown and nasty in a collection of odds and ends from a trunk that my in-laws had. I decided to soak it in warm water and some Woolite. I left it in for about an hour or more and when I took it out it was an off white dress! I realized that it was my mother in law's wedding dress back from the late 1920's. I let it drip over a plastic strainer, and hung it up to dry on a plastic hanger. I didn't iron it, but did fold it neatly in a clean shoe box and presented it to the eldest sister in law.
My own Wedding dress was stored in moth balls. I was fortunate that there had been paper between the moth balls and the dress. I washed the linen dress in Woolite in warm water and gentle cycle, but I stayed by the washer and just let it spin long enough to get the excess water out and put it through the rinse cycle the same way. I spread the dress out on several towels on a bed and just let it dry. I now have it hanging in a plastic bag with a cedar ball at the bottom of the bag, not touching the fabric, as a way of keeping bugs away. If anyone has a better way of storing the dress I sure would like to hear it. For now, at least I can open my closet and occasionally open the bag and look at the dress, which is better than having it in a box or cedar chest, unseen for months or years at a time.

By rosy (Guest Post)
February 3, 20080 found this helpful

I have an old antique wedding dress from my grandmother. My mother also wore it in 1989 and it has been sitting in a plastic garbage bag, it has turned yellow and spots are "rust" My grandmothers friend made it for her in the 1951 it is cotton eyelet and organza. I think the buttons on the sleeve mixed with the buttons on the sleeves have caused this rust to occur.


My grandmother has told me she washed and ironed it herself gently for my mother to wear it in the wash machine. My question is the dress is mostly stained with rust, can I salvage it? My dry cleaner is afraid to touch it.

By (Guest Post)
February 14, 20082 found this helpful

My daughter would like to wear my wedding dress, it is 45 yrs. old. Surprisingly, the dress is a soft creamy white but there are stains on the bottom and one spill of something down one side in front. It is very similar in style as the latest styles, but it has 3/4 sleeves, and is pleasingly plain. There are sequins, beads and embroidery around the scalloped scoop neckline, and some of the same down the middle. It is very full with a crinoline underneath, a.train, princess style waist. The fabric is taffeta, I believe and is quite durable. Unbelievably


good condition. I'd like to wash it. Any suggestions? The neckline is yellow around the edge.

By Jose Carlos Rivera de Cosme (Guest Post)
March 16, 20080 found this helpful

I am an avid collector of antique dresses. I especially love edwardian dresses. I found my dream dress in a flea market, a 1912 -1914 wedding dress ( i paid 40.00 for it ! ) It is silk and is in mint condition, except for a few "rust" stain and the sequins on the sleeves is ripped). I display them in my brownstone and take very good care of them. I usually just wash them in luke warm water and use the baby soap powder ( whch i dislove before putting the dress in). I have been lloking for a teens wedding dress for ten years. They usually are to expensive to just display. I want to hold on to this dress. Do you or anyone have any tips for cleaning it?


I have included some pictures.

Million thanks

Jose Carlos

By Diane (Guest Post)
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

By ella (Guest Post)
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?

August 1, 20111 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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25 More Questions

Here are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community.

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


Bronze Feedback Medal for All Time! 147 Feedbacks
October 24, 20090 found this helpful
Best Answer

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. Re apply every day till spots ago away, good luck.

January 4, 20111 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!

January 4, 20112 found this helpful
Best Answer

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.

January 8, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

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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April 8, 2018

I just took my preserved gown out of the box and there's a few yellow stains on it. How can I get rid of them?


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 677 Posts
April 9, 20180 found this helpful
Best Answer

I would take it to a professional. You could try to clean it with Woolite at home. You could fill a bathtub with warm water and woolite. Remove any buttons Put the dress on a sheet to minimize handling. Then take the dress out and fill the tub with clean water for the rinse.


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April 13, 20180 found this helpful
Best Answer

Yellowing is pretty normal for stored items, especially if any plastic was involved.

  • If there is a way to place your gown on a table of stand in the sunshine, you may be able to remove the stains with plain water.
  • If you have to lay it down then you should place a thick towel under the stain and pour plain water (distilled is better or bottled) on the stain and leave it in the sunshine. Keep wetting the spots until stain is gone. This will usually work many times better than a "stain" remover.
  • If you have to work with the dress hanging up, just spray the spots with water and pin so the sun hits the spots.
  • If you have to use a stain remover try an enzyme product (these are recommended for pet accidents) as they are safe for most fabrics and can be found at stores like Walmart in the laundry/cleaner section.
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April 16, 2018

I have wedding dress for my daughter to wear. It has some dusty type stains on the bottom from a barn wedding. How can we safely clean it?

Dry cleaner wanted 150 and 3 months. We need it in 2 weeks.Cleaning a Polyester Wedding Dress - closeup of dirt stains

The label says 100% polyester.

Cleaning a Polyester Wedding Dress


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April 17, 20181 found this helpful
Best Answer

Dry clean only is probably because of the intricate bodice.

  • I think you could take the dress outside and lay it over a table (secure it so it will not slide off) and leave the dirty part hanging over the edge (hanging over about one foot above the dirty part).
  • Take a spray cleaner that is good for polyester and spray the complete bottom of the dress. Go about 6 inches or so above the dirt.
  • Wet it well and wait 30 minutes. Keep wet for 30 minutes.
  • Take a soft brush or wash cloth and rub down from above the dirt to the hem. You may need someone to hold the dress to keep it secure.
  • You may need to place your hand behind/under the dress bottom while you brush or wipe. It should come clean but it may take a second time.
  • When clean enough (may never be completely clean - even from a dry cleaners) rinse it well without moving the dress from the table (a garden hose works okay for this).
  • Let it dry (the spots will get lighter as it drys) and you may have to touch it up with an warm iron.

Hope you are able to enjoy the wedding with no one the wiser.

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January 2, 2012

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
Best Answer

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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May 26, 2010

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!

May 30, 20102 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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December 4, 2006

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


Gold Post Medal for All Time! 519 Posts
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 -

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!

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)

By rosa (Guest Post)
December 6, 20060 found this helpful

vinegar should take it out. Rose

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September 22, 2014

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

By M.C. from Pine Bluff, AR

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October 5, 2014

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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April 30, 2013

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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August 6, 2012

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


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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March 5, 2012

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


Silver Feedback Medal for All Time! 282 Feedbacks
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:

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

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March 8, 2014

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. Back and train of dress.


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

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

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

By Carolyn

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

January 3, 2011

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.


October 18, 2010

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.


June 1, 2010

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.


May 26, 2010

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.


March 14, 2010

I found my dream wedding dress 2nd hand. Its gorgeous and exactly what I wanted. However it needs to be cleaned.


January 27, 2010

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


January 3, 2010

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.


October 21, 2009

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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