Preservation Nation Blog

From DIY to Professional – All about Wedding Dress Cleaning

From DIY to Professional – All about Wedding Dress Cleaning

How to clean a wedding gownMaking the decision to have your wedding dress cleaned after you get back from your honeymoon can be a daunting task for new brides.  Your dress is as much a part of a memory of your amazing day as your wedding photos, video and guestbook.  Brides want to make sure their dress stays as perfect as it looked when their guests first caught a glimpse of them walking down the aisle.  The only true way to be sure your dress will remain in pristine condition over the years as it ages is to have it cleaned and preserved before storing it.  The number one reason gowns will yellow as they age is due to stains that may not be visible on your dress such as sugar, sweat and oils from the skin.  A professional wedding dress cleaning company knows how to spot these stains and has invested in the proper equipment to remove those stains from the delicate materials wedding gowns are created from.

Wedding Dress Cleaning Options

When you’re ready to have your wedding dress cleaned, you do have a few options available to you.  While we’d like to see every bride have their dress professionally cleaned and preserved, we understand that not all brides will be up to the task after the expense and busyness surrounding their wedding day.  Your options are the following: store your gown until you’re ready to have it professionally cleaned, attempt to clean the gown yourself, take it to a local dry cleaning company or have it cleaned by a an online wedding dress preservation company which is properly equipped to clean the delicate fabrics of a wedding dress.  Regardless of which option you go with, be sure to do your research beforehand and be sure you’re comfortable in your decision.

Cleaning your Dress Yourself

If you’re the DIY type and if your gown isn’t comprised of any delicate materials like silk or taffeta, then cleaning your gown may be an option for you.  We often hear of brides attempting to clean their own gowns when they don’t have a big emotional attachment to the dress, such as a gown purchased second hand.  Here are a few words of caution and advice when cleaning your gown

Delicate Materials – Silk and other sensitive materials don’t respond well to traditional cleaning detergents which can cause permanent damage to the delicate material.

Polyester Organza - If your dress has any organza details then use extreme caution when pressing the material.  Organza will more than likely lose its crispness from heat when hand pressing the material.

Brushes – Be sure you use very soft bristled brushes on your dress.  Hard brushes can cause delicate material to fray and in some cases, even cause pulls in the fabric.

Bleach – Never use bleach on any materials on your gown.  Bleach is one of the harshest chemicals you can use to clean a gown and the results, whether positive or negative, are permanent.

Cleaning your Dress at Your Local Dry Cleaner

Another option for cleaning your wedding dress is to take it to a local dry cleaning company.  Below are some tips on having your dress cleaned locally.

  • Is the cleaning performed on site? Ask if they clean your dress on the premises or send it off to another company.  Most local dry cleaners don’t have the proper equipment needed to clean the delicate materials of a wedding gown and often send it off to a professional company, marking up the cost in the process.  If this is the case, skip the middleman and go straight to the company who will be doing the cleaning and you’ll save yourself hundreds of dollars in the process.
  • Shop around.  You’ll find that local wedding dress dry cleaning costs can vary by hundreds of dollars, even if some use the same exact service to have your dress cleaned and preserved.
  • Ask if they have a warranty and ask for referrals.  The best way to see if a dry cleaner will stand behind the work they perform is if they can issue you a certificate of guarantee.  They should also be able to provide a list of other brides who have used the service in the past who you can speak with to put your mind at ease
  • How do they package the dress after cleaning?  Some dry cleaning companies will place your dress in a simple dry cleaning bag rather than placing the gown on a bust and placing into a preservation box.  Hanging your gown in a closet can cause permanent stretch to the fabric where the gown sits on the hanger.  Also be sure there is a viewing window so others can see your gown without having to handle the dress and transfer oils from their skin onto the delicate material.  Most importantly - be sure to ask if your gown will be placed in an acid-free box with acid-free tissue paper.

Bride Beware!

We received this e-mail from a father of a bride who had entrusted his daughters $3,000 gown to a local dry cleaning service that was ill-equipped to treat the delicate fabrics of his daughter’s gown. 

“Hi, I was wondering if there is anything you can do to help me repair my daughter’s wedding gown.  She asked me and her mother to have her gown cleaned while she was away on her honeymoon and the dry cleaner we took it to ensured us they could clean and preserve it.  As you can see by the photos attached the silk is now crinkled and grey.  I’m not an expert but it looks like they cleaned her gown like they would a man’s shirt.  Please tell me there is something you can do to help!”

Unfortunately the delicate fabric of the gown was too far damaged for even our exclusive SYSTEMK4 cleaning technology to correct.  We can only assume the cleaners used PERC on the gown which is the chemical 95% of dry cleaners use in their cleaning process.

Read More: Is Taking Your Wedding Dress to the Dry Cleaners Safe? 10 Questions to Ask

Online Wedding Dress Cleaning

Over the past decade, online wedding dress preservation has become an increasingly popular method for brides to preserve their gowns.  The benefit is that these types of companies are dedicated solely to cleaning wedding dresses and have invested in the equipment and professional staff to ensure the highest quality cleaning and preservation of your gown. 

The best part of online wedding gown cleaning is that you never have to leave your home.  Simply order your preservation kit online and the insured shipping box arrives at your doorstep in less than a week.  Your gown is safely shipped to the preservation studio where it receives a museum quality cleaning and preservation and is shipped back to you in pristine condition in its own a beautiful preservation box.  

cleaning wedding gowns at the preservation facility

What to look for when cleaning and preserving online:

  • Be sure the company has been in business for a substantial amount of time and make sure 2-way shipping costs are included with your package.
  • Make sure your preservation allows for extra items such as a veil, purse, shoes or other keepsakes from your wedding day.
  • Make sure you’re not paying over $200 for your cleaning & preservation.  Even the most couture gowns can be cleaned and perfectly preserved for under $200.

The best time to have your gown cleaned is the day after your wedding.  The earlier you have your dress cleaned and preserved, the less of a chance stains will have to really set in.  When ordering with us, most brides choose to pre-purchase their kit so they can quickly box it up and send it in to us the day after their wedding and before they’re whisked off on their honeymoon.

We’ve successfully preserved gowns that are up to and over 100 years old and have over 3,000,000 brides across the country who have trusted our process and technology with their precious gowns.  Even if you have a gown that has been sitting in your closet for over 10 years, it’s never too late to have your keepsake cleaned and preserved for future generations to enjoy.