DIY Wedding Dress Cleaning and Preservation

women's white floral wedding dress

So, you want to preserve your gorgeous wedding dress as a keepsake from your special day but don’t want to spend the money to take it to a professional? Now that you’re back from your honeymoon, here’s how you can preserve your wedding dress.

Cleaning

What you’ll need:

         • A gentle bristle brush (toothbrush)

         • Stain remover

         • Gentle detergent

         • Spray bottle

         • Blow dryer

         • Large bucket (if you do not have a bath)

women's white dress on hangers

1. Look at the care label on your dress.


•Look for special instructions on how to clean the dress, as well as detailed instructions on how to clean trim, beads, or sequins. Take the time to read this tag, as it may save your dress from destruction!


2. Disinfect your bathtub
.

•Whether only spot treating or fully washing your gown, the bathtub is the easiest place to work with your dress. Cleaning and disinfecting your bathtub before putting your dress in it will eliminate the possibility of any residue transferring onto your dress. 


•If you do not have a bathtub, letting it soak in a large bucket will work too!


3. Start with spot treatment
.

•Before going at all your stains, test your stain remover on an inconspicuous spot on the dress to ensure that it will not harm the fabric or integrity. NEVER use bleach on your dress. The harsh chemical nature of bleach can damage delicate fabric.


•Isolate the layer of fabric carrying the stain so that the stain remover does not soak into unnecessary layers and parts of your dress.


•Never rub stain remover into fabric, instead use your hand (with a glove on) and pat the stain remover gently into the stain. For tougher stains, let the stain remover soak into the dress for 20-30 minutes before washing out.


•If you are only doing spot treatment and not a full gown wash, rinse stain remover out thoroughly with cool water and dry with a blow dryer on low heat to avoid any watermarks.


4. Wash the Bodice
.

•Look at both the inside and outside of the bodice for stains. This is the most likely place to find sweat stains. 


•Fill a spray bottle with a mix of 5 parts water and 1 part detergent. Spray dirty spots and scrub out with the bristle brush. Let air dry.


5. Fully wash your gown
.

•Fill your disinfected bath with enough cool water to cover the skirt of the dress.


•Stir in a half cup of stain remover and a cup of gentle liquid detergent like Genie delicate hand-washing detergent.


•Soak the bottom of your dress in the bath for up to 12 hours, leaving the bodice out of the water to maintain the integrity of the dress. 


•After soaking for at least 2 hours, use the gentle bristle brush to scrub the dirt out of your dress. A clean white sock is also useful for scrubbing dirt from the dress.


6.Rinse and Dry
.

•Drain the bathtub and use the shower to rinse the dress. After the tub has drained, rinse out the tub and fill it with cool water again. Allow the dress to soak a second time to ensure that all of the detergent is rinsed out of the dress.


•Hang on a padded hanger or lay on a large drying rack to dry.


PRESERVATION

What you’ll need:

          • Acid-free box or acid-free garment bag

          • A padded hanger (if hanging)

          • Acid-free tissue paper (if boxing)

          • Silica desiccant packets.

 

When the wedding dress is dry, you can either store it in an acid-free box or acid-free garment bag.

white floral textile

To store in a box: 

1. Fold the dress to fit the container you will be storing it in. In each fold, insert tissue paper to avoid creasing. Stuff the bust and sleeves if applicable to maintain the proper shape. Wrap the folded dress in acid-free, white (NOT colored), tissue paper.  


2. Place the dress in an acid-free container. Store it somewhere that avoids harsh light and extreme temperatures. Add silica desiccant packets inside the box to help control humidity levels.


 To store in a garment bag:

1. Use an acid-free plastic garment bag to hang the dress in a cool and dry space. Do not hang the dress on a hanger made of wire or wood. Use a padded hanger to prevent creasing and increase air circulation. Add silica desiccant packets to the bottom of the garment bag. 


2. Warning: Wedding gowns are much heavier than regular clothes you would normally hang. The heavy weight can pull on the dress, leading to distortion of the original structure of the dress.


Every 2-3 years, check on your dress to make sure that it is maintaining color and shape. If stored in a box, you can even refold the dress to ensure that there will be no permanent creases. Washing your dress in a washing machine is not recommended unless there are no embellishments or lace, and the fabric is 100% cotton or polyester.

This DIY method does not protect your dress from 100% of damaging elements but it will greatly aid in keeping your wedding dress clean and intact. If you want more assurance that your dress will be perfectly preserved, we recommend taking it to a professional who specializes in wedding dress preservation. They have professional techniques unable to be done at home! This DIY technique will help to preserve your precious wedding gown for years to come.

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