How to Clean and Preserve Your Wedding Dress

women's white strapless wedding dress hanged on clothes hanger

After the big day, you may be wondering, “What am I supposed to do with this big white dress?”. Some people donate their wedding dress, but others preserve their dress to save as a fond keepsake. If you are planning on keeping your wedding dress, you shouldn’t simply throw it in the back of a closet. Doing this will cause the fabric to yellow, oxidation spots to appear, mildew and mold growth, permanent fabric creases, and any stains from your wedding day will become permanent, turning your precious keepsake into a garbage giveaway. To avoid all of that….

Here is the best way to clean, store, and preserve your gorgeous wedding dress.

No matter what:

Take your dress off as soon as the reception ends and make sure it gets to the dry cleaner or preservationist as soon as possible. 

Take it to a professional

Take your dress to a professional who specializes in the cleaning and preserving of wedding dresses. While this may be a more expensive route, it is the most simple and reliable for preserving your wedding dress.

“Unlike wedding gown clean-only services, full preservation involves many more techniques, more skill, and specialized equipment to master.  From state-of-the-art delicate fabric dry cleaning equipment to keep your staff trained on the highest level of fabric care, there is much that goes into the art of preserving a wedding gown.” weddinggownkit.com.

Choosing a one-stop shop will save you the hassle of making multiple trips to different professionals like the dry cleaner, the store if you go the DIY route, or to another preservationist.

Prices usually range from $250 to $600+ depending on which wedding dress preservation company you choose. Higher-priced professionals will have higher quality tools and methods to preserve the dress with a stronger guarantee of the preservation lasting for a long time. If you go with a cheaper option, make sure you do research on their company and look at reviews before trusting someone with your precious dress.

white and beige floral textiles

If you want to go the cheaper route, here’s what we suggest.

1.Clean it!

Your dress may not look all that worn or dirty from your wedding day, but stains from sweat, dirt, food and makeup can show up more intensely as time goes on, making them much harder to get out of the fabric. That is why getting it cleaned right away is most important.

  • Look for special instructions on how to clean the dress, as well as detailed instructions on how to handle trim, beads, or sequins.
    ◦ In the United States, the Federal Trade Commission requires that each wedding gown have a care label(1). Take the time to read this tag, as it may save your dress from dry-cleaning destruction!

  • Choose a dry cleaner based upon the special care instructions your gown requires.
    ◦ Some dry cleaners offer specialized wedding dress cleaning but their processes can differ from professional preservationists. Be sure to look into their process first before handing over your dress!
    ◦For example, some wedding gowns are made with adhesive that dissolves in certain dry cleaning solutions. Ask your dry cleaner which type of cleaning solutions they use if your dress requires a specific type.

  • Ask to see your dress before the dry cleaner packages it for storage.
    ◦There are horror stories of women getting the wrong gown back from the cleaners and not finding out until years later they open their box to find someone else’s dress. If you are going to have them box it up for you, take a final look at your dress before they do.

  • Skip the dry cleaner and clean/preserve it yourself
    Check out our blog here on DIY wedding dress cleaning and preservation for detailed instructions!

Clean-only services differ in cost compared to full preservation services. While clean-only service is cheaper, it does not include supplies like an acid-free box or display bust and skips on the techniques used to provide longevity in the preservation. In contrast, there are processes in full-preservation that protect your wedding gown from moisture, oxidation, and yellowing, and generally protect your gown as it ages. These factors make it worth the cost to save your dress for years to come. 

Some full preservation services offer a 100-year guarantee with their preservation process! Not only you can enjoy your wedding dress, but your children and grandchildren can admire it as well. 

Citations
1.https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/wedding-gown-labels-unveiling-requirements

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