Wedding Dress Cleaning, Preservation & Restoration Blog

The Difference Between Wedding Dress Cleaning and Wedding Dress Preservation

The Difference Between Wedding Dress Cleaning and Wedding Dress Preservation

We often get asked by brides what the difference is between wedding dress cleaning and wedding dress preservation.  

"To put it in very simple terms, wedding gown cleaning is an absolute must after your wedding day whereas having your wedding gown preserved is a personal decision and depends on if the bride chooses to share her gown with the next generation."

Most brides today realize the importance of having their dress cleaned after their busy wedding day is over.   Over time, organic elements such as dirt, bodily oils, and food stains such as icing can wreak havoc on the delicate materials your gown was created with.  If left untreated for a few years, those areas of your dress that looked perfectly white before putting your gown away will begin to break down and cause those untreated areas to yellow. 

There is even a popular news story that recently made headlines telling the story of a new bride’s mother who had her dress preserved with a not so well known wedding dress preservation company that is no longer in existence (for good reason apparently!).  When the woman’s daughter opened the box (the box had no viewing window) 20 years later, she found her wedding gown had yellowed and had appeared to never even have been treated in the first place.  Needless to say, the bride wasn’t happy and the mother was devastated that she wouldn’t be able to honor her by wearing her gown on her wedding day.

The Most Trusted Wedding Gown Cleaning Service

If you own a wedding gown you will soon be wearing again or if you will be selling your gown in the future, our Wedding Gown Clean-Only Kit is the safest and most trusted method to have your gown cleaned by experienced professionals that have been perfecting the art of cleaning wedding gowns since 1913.

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Is Wedding Gown Preservation Really Necessary?

In short, having your wedding gown professionally cleaned is essential after your wedding day, whereas having your wedding dress preserved is a personal choice for each bride. That personal choice is determined by whether a bride wants to keep her dress as a memory of her wedding day to be passed down to the next generation, or if she wants to sell or gift her dress to another bride. Simply having your dress cleaned gives you no guarantee your gown will be safe from future yellowing, staining, fraying or UV-damage. Storing your wedding dress in a wedding gown storage box is the only way to keep it pristine and vibrant for future generations to enjoy, or even wear again.

Wedding Gown Preservation Features vs. Wedding Gown Cleaning
Cleaning vs. Preservation Preserve Clean-Only
Wet Cleaning

Wet cleaning is the process of using safe and effective solvents to ensure your entire wedding gown is free of any contaminates that would cause it to yellow over time. Gentle brushes and sponges are used on your hem line, often the most soiled part of your wedding dress, to remove stains and ensure your dress comes back to you looking as brilliant as the day you first set eyes on it. Wet cleaning will also remove any invisible staining, such as perfume molecules, oils from sweat, and other contaminates.

Spot/Stain Cleaning

This part of the cleaning process is a must for wedding gowns. What is a light lipstick mark today, can turn into an unsightly brown stain on your gown in just a few short years. Eco-friendly SYSTEMK4 spot cleaning solvents, as well as custom formulated treatments, are used depending on the cause of the stain, whether it be an organic stains or a chemical stain.


The only thing worse than a stain on a wedding dress, is a permanent fold. A fold in the bustle of a wedding gown can cause fabric to fray and wear over time. Your dress is either machine pressed, if you order our Traditional Kit, or hand pressed if you choose our Celebrity Kit.


The biggest difference between wedding dress cleaning vs. preservation is the final step of the process. The protectant used during the last step of your preservation is what provides museum quality results and allows your wedding gown to last through the decades with our guarantee of no yellowing or future staining. The protectant also acts to repel moisture and will even help as an initial stain barrier in the event your wedding gown is worn again.

100-Year Warranty

All of our preservation kits come with our industry-leading 100 year warranty against future yellowing and staining. We’re able to offer this because we know your gown is stored with utmost care in the preservation chest, and will be protected from oils on your hands and environmental contaminates. With our Clean-only Kit, we cannot offer this as we don’t know how your gown will be stored or handled after cleaning.

Display Chest

With our Traditional, Celebrity, Restoration and Baptism Kits, you’ll receive your gown beautifully displayed in our acid-free preservation chest. Our chest can be personalized with your photo, name, and date, and features a viewing window so you can share your memory with your loved ones.

Formed Bust

To ensure your wedding gown maintains it’s shape in the Preservation Chest, it will be carefully and expertly laid over a custom preservation bust. This eliminates stresses on the fabrics of your wedding gown, which normally occur if you were to hang your wedding gown in your closet.


Every preservation kit we sell also includes the cleaning and preservation of up to 5 accessories from your wedding day. These can include your veil, coin purse, garter belt, and much more. Unlike other preservation companies, we don’t upcharge for you to add your wedding day accessories to be preserved.

The Old Method to Clean a Wedding Gown

The typical cleaning process for your wedding dress when you take it to your local dry cleaner will most likely involve the use of PERC, the most common cleaning agent used by traditional dry cleaning outfits.  PERC is not only dangerous to the very sensitive and delicate materials in your gown; it’s also extremely dangerous for humans and the environment.  Due to advancements in the dry cleaning industry, there’s no excuse for continuing to use PERC in the dry cleaning process, other than the business owner refusing to upgrade their systems or not being financially capable of adapting to state of the art cleaning technologies now available on the market. 

The Amazing Advancements in Wedding Dress Cleaning Technology

Our wedding gown cleaning service was not only one of the first companies in the US to import the SYSTEMK4 cleaning technology from Germany, but we continue to stand today as the only wedding dress preservation company to have integrated the technology into our cleaning process.  As cliché as it sounds, SYSTEMK4 has revolutionized the cleaning industry.  The 4 step process at the heart of the system is 100% effective in treating spot stains such as dirt, grass, oil and even the arch-enemy of the dry cleaning industry, grease.  Beyond treating spot stains, SYSTEMK4 safely and very effectively treats all the material of your gown - giving it the glow it had the day you first tried it on at the bridal boutique.

Going a Step Further to Protect Your Dress

Having your wedding dress professionally cleaned will indeed take care of those harmful stains but will having your gown cleaned, and not preserved, insure that your dress will look perfect if left untouched for 20, 50 or even 100 years?  This is where the fourth step of the SYSTEMK4 cleaning process comes into play.  The fourth step involves an invisible micro treatment that coats and protects your gown as it rests in the preservation chest.  Not only does it protect the gown as it is stored but the treatment actually will protect the gown if worn again in the future, repelling future stains and keeping the fabric as vibrant and beautiful as the day you received your gown after it was preserved by us.

Additional Reasons for Preserving Your Gown

Wrinkles and fabric “hang” can also cause irreparable damage to your gown over the long term.  Wrinkles can cause fabric to weaken and fray over time at point of the fold.  We hand press all of the gowns that we preserve to ensure there are no wrinkles left in the dress before it is placed in our preservation display chest.  Fabric “hang” is caused by storing your gown on a hanger in your closet.  You probably took note of how heavy your wedding dress was while you were making your way through your wedding day.  Letting all of that weight rest on a hanger year after year will inevitably stretch and damage the shoulder material of your gown.  To solve this we’ve created different sizes and shapes of busts that your gown rests on in the preservation chest.  This allows your dress to rest naturally over the years, maintaining the same shape the seamstress intended when the gown was designed and fitted.

Clearly you can see the long term benefits of having your dress preserved rather than “cleaned-only”.  One of our biggest advantages is that you get our museum quality service at a fraction of the price you’d pay at a local dry cleaning service because ALL we do is wedding dress cleaning and preservation.  Do you have more questions about our service?  Call or e-mail a service representative today and we’d be happy to help!