Are there any risks in dry cleaning your wedding dress?
We’re all familiar with your typical, small-town (or big city) corner dry cleaning business. You may have brought your winter coats to them each fall for their ritual yearly cleaning and your father most likely has had his work shirts cleaned and pressed at that same family-owned dry cleaning business for years. Most towns have 3 or 4 options when it comes to businesses you can take your dry cleaning to and many of these businesses have been using the same process and the same equipment for years with no real hiccups. While these techniques and equipment may be great for your father’s cotton work shirts, can you be sure they’ll be equally effective and most importantly, safe for the delicate materials your wedding gown was artfully crafted from?
Because we’ve been involved in the wedding dress cleaning and restoration business for many years, we’re going to help you by arming you with some very telling questions you can ask your local dry cleaner before entrusting them with one of your biggest emotional and financial investments from your wedding day – your beautiful, delicate wedding dress. We’re not implying that all dry cleaning businesses are bad or lack the skillset and technology necessary to restore the original brilliance of your wedding gown, we’ve just seen and heard too many stories of dresses being ruined by a lack of understanding, outdated equipment that simply isn’t effective or safe, or just plain negligence – some of the dresses from those stories we’ve come across have been damaged beyond repair.
Wedding dress styles and materials are about as different as they come. There are simple and elegant gowns with deep plunging necklines, and there are also couture dresses with feather embellishments, delicate fabrics and ornate bodices. With such a variety of gowns for a bride to choose from, shouldn’t there be various packages available depending on the style and price of her gown?
While full wedding dress restorations on antique gowns can get pricier, in general, you’ll find the average cost of a quality cleaning and preservation ranges from $150 – $225. If a cleaner is charging more, you may be paying a big margin into their pocket, or worse, you may be paying more because this is not a service offering they’re well versed in. You may be paying extra for the possibility of mistakes made along the way.
Your wedding dress, veil, and keepsakes create cherished memories and preserving those pieces for future generations can be done with just a bit of care. The key to preserving a wedding gown or any type of fabric like baby clothes is to protect it from the elements, especially light and moisture. With proper handling, the gown and accessories should last for hundreds of years.
How to Clean a Wedding Dress
Planning for the future preservation of your wedding dress begins on the day you start shopping. When you find “the dress” be sure to ask the sales consultant how the dress should be cleaned. Look for special instructions on how to clean any delicate trim, beads, or sequins.
Every wedding gown should be cleaned before being stored away for more than a few weeks even if it doesn’t look soiled. Perspiration, food and drink stains, and makeup stains can show up later and become much more difficult to remove. Look for a professional dry cleaner that specialises in wedding gown preservation. Be sure to point out any stains and any loose trim or buttons. Also discuss, if you know, how the trim is attached to the gown. Some designers use an adhesive that could dissolve during the dry cleaning process.
If the cleaner is going to pack your dress for storage, ask your cleaner to allow you to inspect your gown before it is packed in an acid-free box to help prevent contamination. This will prevent surprises when you open your sealed box years from now. There are horror stories of missing gowns and veils or the wrong dress packed away.
If your gown is simple and made from fabric that can be hand-washed at home, pretreat the stains and be sure to check the dress well for damage before you store it away. One important tip is to allow the gown to dry completely before packing away to prevent mildew growth. Keep the gown away from both artificial light and natural sunlight to prevent fabric damage.
A woman’s wedding gown is one of her most prized possessions. Whether it’s before or after the wedding, every woman literally worships their gown and takes care of it more than they do everything else they own. One of these ways, of course, is cleaning it before the wedding and after so you can store it as a memento or if it was hired to return it in good form.
There are many ways of cleaning a wedding gown such as:
- Dry cleaning- Using a chemical called tetrachloroethylene and a dry cleaning machine to remove stains and dirt instead of water.
- Laundry cleaning- using hot water and normal detergents in a washing machine to remove stains and dirt.
- Hand washing- Using water and detergent at home on a basis and hand washing the gown.
This article, however, will look at how to dry clean a wedding gown using a chemical instead of water and detergent. This is because this is the best method of cleaning a wedding gown even though it’s also quite expensive.
Things to do before Dry Cleaning a Wedding Gown
- Check the care label. The first step is always checking the care label so you can be sure of how to clean it and if some chemicals or methods are not compatible with that particular fabric. Old, vintage and antique dresses don’t do well under the harsh chemicals used in dry cleaning so they shouldn’t be dry- cleaned.
- Inspect the dress for stains and to see where it’s mostly dirty. Also, inspect the trim with the dry cleaner to see if it’s supposed to be dry -cleaned since most of them aren’t. Dyes used in trims tend to fade when after dry cleaning.
- Inspect embellishments and decorations. Most modern decorations are very substandard, and they dissolve if mixed with very strong solvents and if they don’t the glue connecting them to the gown will leaving the dress without decorations. One must check what kind of embellishments are on the gown and what is holding them to the fabric.
- It’s advised strongly that a wedding gown should never be stored with stains, but it should be dry cleaned immediately before the stains become permanent.
- Lastly, do not under whatever circumstances unless you are a professional dry cleaner try to clean a wedding gown on your own. There are things that only a dry cleaner can know so always take it to a professional.
You most likely spent hours agonising over your dream dress, undertaking endless amounts of research on Pinterest and scouring local bridal boutiques until you found the one. The moment when you tried it on for the first time was surely magical, and wearing it on the big day itself undoubtedly made you feel like a princess. The special moments you share with your bridal gown are sacred, and that is why your dress deserves some tender loving care after the wedding.
No bride leaves their wedding with a pristine dress. While you may never wear it again, your gown is a precious keepsake and if perfectly preserved, can even be passed to future generations for their weddings if you were in any doubt about getting your dress dry-cleaned by a professional.
Step by Step Process of Dry Cleaning a Wedding Gown
- After inspecting and approving that the dress can be dry cleaned it’s important to try and remove stains first with a stain remover spray but be careful not to cause discolouration. These stain removers come with the dry cleaning kit, sheet and a cleaning bag.
- Place the gown inside the dry cleaning bag of similar colour.
- Place the dry cleaning sheet inside the bag. It contains very little water and perfume. The job of the perfume is to give the dress a fresh scent while the water is used to cause steam that will straighten up the dress like ironing.
- Place the dry cleaning bag and its contents inside the drier for 30 minutes and remove them immediately the timer goes off to avoid wrinkling.
- Remove the gown from the bag and hang it in a hanger.
- Instead of ironing use a clothes steamer to straighten the gown even more so, the decorations don’t melt.
- Store the dress in a cool, dry place away from dirt and moisture.
The secret to dry cleaning a wedding gown is letting a professional do it and following the care instructions on the label carefully. Trying to do it at home might turn out badly, so it’s important to let it get the special treatment it deserves.
Why you should dry clean your wedding dress
Act fast and have your dress cleaned sooner rather than later to ensure the best chances for stain removal. Some stains are not visible to the naked eye and will surface over time when it becomes too hard or even too late to get rid of them.
Standard dry-cleaning procedures are not delicate enough or efficient enough to clean a wedding dress, and that is why it’s imperative that a specialist dry cleaning company.
White, ivory and cream dresses are prone to yellowing, and even the colour in pigmented gowns will begin to deteriorate over time if you don’t have it cleaned, especially if the dress is exposed to sunlight.
Stop fibre stretching
If you leave your dress hanging in your wardrobe, the fibres can gradually stretch. As such, it is better to box your dress so that the material is loose and free of tension.