Although there is an upswing of bride’s re-selling or up cycling their wedding dress, there are still many brides who want to keep their dress forever. Proper cleaning and preservation of your wedding dress is key to making sure your dress lasts a lifetime. Here are eight tips you should know about wedding dress preservation.
1. Dry Cleaning and Wedding Dress Preservation are NOT the Same Thing
Unlike standard dry-cleaning, preserving your wedding dress starts with an experienced specialist. The specialist assesses your dress to create a unique treatment plan according to your dress’s fabric, stitching and details, and examination of any stains you may have acquired on your special day. Whatever the specialist comes up with will keep the give the dress new life without harming the delicate fabric.
You can, however, find dry cleaners who also offer specialized wedding dress cleaning. Make sure to vet their process. They may just send your dress off to a third party and not do any of the specialized work themselves. You should find a dry cleaner who uses a virgin solvent rather than a recycled solvent. Recycled solvents (which are used for typical dry cleaning) contain impurities that can redeposit onto clothing and leave your wedding dress with strange smell.
In fact, your dress label may have specific instructions, such as “Dry Clean Only with Petroleum Solvent.” Whatever it says, make sure the preservationist or dry cleaner you choose has the appropriate cleaning solutions for your wedding dress.
Whether you choose a preservationist of a dry cleaner, you want someone who guarantees they won’t do any damage. Look for a guarantee that will refund you the cost of the dress (not just the preservation). Furthermore, find out how long they guarantee that the wedding dress will remain preserved after they finish.
2. Invisible Stains Might Be Lurking on Your Wedding Gown
The most dangerous spills may be the ones you can’t see. Sugary substances like white wine can dry clear, but caramelize over time, yellowing your dress. Once you start seeing the effects of these stains, it is too late.
Professional cleaners and preservationists are trained to spot the unseen. They can detect and create a treatment plan for any stains they find before the stain causes permanent damage.
3. Do NOT Procrastinate
Do not wait. Take your dress to a professional dry cleaner or preservationist as soon as possible before any stains cause permanent damage. Make a plan before your wedding so that the day after your wedding, you or someone can take your dress to the dry cleaner.
4. The Wedding Dress Preservation Box is Sealed Airtight
A preserved dress is typically stored in an airtight box where the oxygen has been sucked out and replaced with nitrogen. This prevents oxidation (aging, discoloration, etc.), which can happen to clothes that have been stored for several years. You should never break the seal, but if you do, you should have your dress professionally resealed. If you do take your dress out for any reason, try not handle the fabric with your bare hands. The oils from your hands can cause permanent stains.
If you take your dress out for your daughter to wear at her wedding, be sure to take all the steps to re-preserve your dress after her wedding.
5. Budget for Wedding Dress Preservation
The average preservation kit costs $250 to $750. So you need to be sure to include wedding dress preservation in your wedding budget.
6. Your Dress Should Be Stored in a Cool, Dark Place
Once your dress has been properly cleaned, you should store it away from direct sunlight. You should remove it from the hanger to avoid stretching your dress in the wrong places. Do not store your dress in a regular zip up bag. It will retain moisture which can discolor your dress. Use acid-free plastic, which wedding preservation boxes are made from. You should opt for a professional wedding preservation box, or better yet, an acid free wedding chest.
7. Rules of Thumb for DIY Wedding Dress Preservation
If you want to preserve your wedding dress yourself, try to follow these guidelines for the best results:
- Always use white cotton gloves when handling the wedding dress.
- Spot test the fabric in an inconspicuous area with your cleaning solution just to make sure it’s not going to harm the fabric.
- Use soft bristled brushes if needed. Gentle toothbrushes work great.
- NEVER use bleach.
- When your wedding dress is clean and dry, wrap it in acid-free tissue paper or pre-washed unbleached muslin. Avoid colored tissue paper as it can stain the dress over time. Also place layers of tissue paper or muslin between the folds of the dress, as well, to avoid permanent creasing. Stuff the bust and your sleeves with tissue paper, as well, to maintain the full shape of the dress.
- Put your dress in an acid-free container and store it in an area that is safe from harsh light or temperatures like under your bed or in your windowless closet. You can also add silica desiccant packets inside the box for humidity control.
- You can also use an acid-free plastic garment bag and hang the dress in a cool, dry closet as an alternative. If you are going to hang your dress, use a padded hangar.
- Don’t store your gown in an attic, a garage, a basement or cellar. These areas can be subject to extreme temperatures and/or humidity.
- You should check on your dress every two or three years and refold it to further ensure no permanent creasing occurs.
8. Don’t Forget Your Shoes
Your wedding shoes can also be preserved with your dress. To preserve your shoes, you will need to clean them. For cloth shoes, use a gentle cloth and sponge and lightly scrub your shoes with a mild detergent. For leather shoes, give them a polish. If you really did a number on your shoes, you can take them to a dry cleaner. After your shoes are clean, wrap them in white tissue and place them in box.
Depending on the type of material your shoes are, you may be able to include them with your dress in the preservation box. Ask your preservationist if this is possible.
Proceed Without Wedding Gown Preservation at Your Own Risk
If you choose not to preserve your wedding dress, you risk the following:
- yellowing of the fabric
- brown oxidation spots
- mold and mildew growth
- permanent fabric creasing