As a bride, you’ve spent countless hours and possibly months searching for the perfect wedding gown. You’ve tried on numerous dresses, walked down the aisle in your dream dress, and danced the night away. But now, what do you do with your dress after the big day? While many brides may store their gown in a box and forget about it, it’s essential to properly clean and preserve your gown to keep it in the best condition possible for years to come.
In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about cleaning and preserving your wedding gown, from identifying your gown’s fabric type to the best ways to store it for the long term.
Understanding Your Wedding Gown Fabric
Before properly cleaning and preserving your wedding gown, it’s essential to understand its type of fabric. Wedding gowns can be made from various fabrics, including silk, polyester, cotton, rayon, nylon, and more. Each fabric type requires a different level of care and cleaning, so knowing what you’re working with is important.
Here’s an overview of the most common types of wedding gown fabrics
Silk: Renowned for its luxurious and elegant appearance, silk is a popular choice for wedding gowns. This natural fiber has a smooth texture and a lustrous sheen, making it perfect for creating a stunning and timeless look. Due to its delicate nature, it’s crucial to treat silk carefully, avoiding harsh chemicals or detergents.
Polyester: An affordable and versatile option, polyester is a synthetic fabric offering various textures and finishes. It’s commonly used for wedding gowns as it can mimic the appearance of more expensive materials like silk and satin. Additionally, polyester is wrinkle-resistant and relatively easy to care for, making it a practical choice for brides. However, as it is less breathable than natural fibers, it may not be ideal for hot or humid climates.
Cotton: Known for its softness and breathability, cotton is a natural fiber that can be used to create comfortable and casual wedding gowns. Cotton lace, in particular, is a popular choice for bohemian or vintage-inspired dresses. While it may not have the same opulence as silk or satin, cotton offers a relaxed and effortless elegance that is perfect for laid-back ceremonies or outdoor weddings. Be sure to follow care instructions closely to preserve the integrity of your cotton gown.
Linen: Another natural fabric, linen, is made from flax fibers and is known for its durability and breathability. Linen wedding gowns are ideal for outdoor weddings, especially in warmer climates, due to their lightweight and airy qualities. The natural texture of linen lends a rustic and organic feel to the dress, perfect for brides seeking a more earthy or minimalist aesthetic. As linen is prone to wrinkling, storing and caring for your gown correctly is essential to maintain its pristine appearance.
Nylon: A synthetic fabric, nylon is lightweight and robust, making it an excellent choice for wedding gowns that require added structure or support. Nylon tulle, for example, is a popular choice for voluminous skirts or veils. While not as luxurious as silk, nylon offers a cost-effective alternative with a similar drape and sheen. Ensure your nylon gown is professionally cleaned and cared for, as improper care can cause damage or discoloration.
Rayon: Derived from cellulose fibers, rayon is a semi-synthetic fabric with a silky texture and excellent drape. It’s often used as a more affordable alternative to silk for wedding gowns, offering similar luster and flow. However, rayon is less durable than silk and may be more susceptible to damage or shrinkage. To maintain the beauty of your rayon gown, it’s crucial to follow care instructions and consider professional cleaning services.
Here’s an overview of the common weaves found in wedding gowns. The weaves can be made out of any of the above fabric types.
Chiffon: A lightweight, sheer fabric that drapes well.
Lace: A delicate, intricate fabric made of interlacing threads.
Satin: A heavy, smooth fabric with a glossy finish.
Organza: A lightweight, transparent fabric with a crisp texture.
Tulle: A fine, sheer netting fabric often used for wedding veils.
Mikado: A heavy, smooth fabric with a matte finish.
Duchess Satin: A heavy, smooth fabric similar to satin but with a more matte finish.
Crepe: A lightweight, crinkled fabric that drapes well and is often used for more casual or destination wedding gowns.
To identify the type of fabric your gown is made of, check the care label or consult with the salon you purchased your dress at. Knowing the fabric type will help you take the proper steps to clean and care for your gown, ensuring its longevity and preserving its beauty for years.
Cleaning Your Wedding Gown
Once you know the type of fabric your gown is made of, it’s time to start cleaning it. Here’s a step-by-step guide to spot-treating stains and cleaning your gown:
Spot treat any stains: If your gown has any stains, it’s important to treat them as soon as possible. Use a stain remover specifically designed for the type of fabric your gown is made of, and follow the instructions carefully.
Test a small, inconspicuous area: Before you clean your entire gown, it’s a good idea to test a small, inconspicuous area to ensure the cleaning solution won’t damage the fabric.
Clean the gown: Fill a basin with lukewarm water and add a gentle, fabric-specific detergent. Gently agitate the water to create suds, then place your gown in the basin and let it soak for about 10 minutes. Do not rub or wring the gown, which can damage the fabric.
Rinse the gown: After soaking, gently rinse the gown in lukewarm water until all soap suds are removed. Do not wring or twist the gown.
Hang to dry: Gently hang the gown to dry, avoiding direct sunlight and heat sources. Do not hang the gown by its straps or embellishments, as this can cause the fabric to stretch or the embellishments to become misshapen.
While spot-treating and cleaning your gown yourself can be tempting, it’s important to consider hiring a professional cleaner if you’re unsure about the best way to clean your gown or if it has any particularly stubborn stains. Professional cleaners have the experience and equipment necessary to properly clean and care for your gown, helping to ensure its longevity.
When choosing a professional cleaner, look for one specializing in wedding gown cleaning and preservation. Ask for references and read reviews from other brides to get an idea of the cleaner’s reputation and quality of work.
Preserving Your Wedding Gown
Once your gown has been cleaned, it’s time to preserve it for the long term. Proper storage and preservation can help keep your gown in the best condition possible for years to come.
Here’s what you need to know:
Acid-Free Preservation Materials: It is important to use acid-free preservation materials when storing your wedding gown. Acid-free tissue paper and storage boxes are available at many arts and crafts stores and online. Check the label or packaging to ensure that your purchased materials are acid-free.
Preservation Chest: A preservation chest is a unique storage box designed specifically for wedding gowns. These boxes are typically made of acid-free materials and are designed to protect your gown from dust, light, and moisture. You can purchase a preservation chest online or at a store that specializes in wedding gown preservation.
Folding Your Gown: It’s important to fold carefully to prevent creases and wrinkles. Start by laying the gown flat on a clean, acid-free surface. Fold the gown in half lengthwise, then fold it again so the hem touches the neckline. Be sure to avoid repeatedly folding the gown in the same place, as this can cause permanent creases. Be sure to add acid-free tissue inside of the folds.
Storing Your Gown: After your gown has been cleaned, folded, and placed in the preservation chest, it’s time to store it. Choose a cool, dry place that is free from damp, humid environments and direct sunlight. A closet is a good option. Avoid storing your gown in the attic or basement, as these areas can be prone to extreme temperatures and fluctuations in humidity levels.
Following these tips and using proper preservation materials can help keep your wedding gown looking its best for years to come. At Janet Davis Cleaners, we are dedicated to helping you preserve your special memories. We are always here to answer any questions about cleaning and preserving your wedding gown.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should I get my wedding gown cleaned? How long is too long to wait?
Cleaning your wedding gown as soon as possible after your wedding day is recommended. Waiting too long increases the risk of stains becoming permanent and the gown deteriorating. Ideally, cleaning should be done within 1-3 months of the wedding.
How do I choose the right cleaning service for my wedding gown?
To choose the right cleaning service, look for a professional cleaner specializing in wedding gowns. Check their reputation, experience, and customer reviews. The Association of Wedding Gown Specialists is a reputable organization that certifies cleaners who meet their high standards, so choosing a cleaner affiliated with this association is a good starting point.
Can I clean my wedding gown at home?
While it is possible to clean your wedding gown at home if you have the proper knowledge about the specific material it is made of, it is generally recommended to leave the cleaning to professionals with extensive experience in handling wedding gowns. They possess the expertise, equipment, and solvents necessary to clean your gown safely and effectively. However, if you feel comfortable and confident in cleaning the type of material your gown is made of, research and follow the appropriate cleaning methods to minimize the risk of damage.
How do I prevent yellowing of my wedding gown over time?
To prevent yellowing, store your gown in a pH-neutral, acid-free environment. Use acid-free tissue paper and an acid-free container or wedding gown preservation box. Keep the gown in a cool, dark, and dry place, avoiding direct sunlight or moisture exposure.
Is it safe to store my wedding gown in a vacuum-sealed bag?
Storing your wedding gown in a vacuum-sealed bag is not recommended, as it can lead to permanent creasing and fabric damage. Instead, use an acid-free container or preservation box with acid-free tissue paper for safe storage.
How often should I inspect my stored wedding gown for any signs of damage?
Inspect your stored wedding gown at least once yearly for signs of damage, discoloration, or other issues. This will allow you to address potential problems early and preserve the gown’s condition.
Can my wedding gown be restored if it has been damaged or discolored?
While there are no guarantees, professional cleaners, and restoration services, such as those certified by the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists, may be able to restore damaged or discolored gowns, depending on the extent of the damage.
How do I maintain the embellishments (e.g., beads, lace, sequins) on my wedding gown during cleaning and storage?
Professional cleaners who specialize in wedding gowns will have the expertise to handle the embellishments on your gown. During storage, use acid-free tissue paper to cushion and protect delicate embellishments, and avoid folding or compressing the gown in a way that could damage them.
Cleaning and preserving your wedding gown is an important step in ensuring that it stays in the best possible condition for years to come. By understanding your gown’s fabric type, properly cleaning it, and preserving it in a cool, dry place, you can help ensure that it stays beautiful for generations to come.
In conclusion, cleaning and preserving your wedding gown is a must-do for any bride who wants to keep their gown looking its best for years to come. From identifying your gown’s fabric type to proper storage and preservation, this guide has everything you need to know to keep your gown in top condition.
At Janet Davis Cleaners in Metro-Detroit, Michigan, we understand the importance of your wedding gown and are dedicated to providing the best cleaning and preservation services possible. With our years of experience and expertise, you can trust us to handle your gown with care and to help ensure its longevity. Contact us today to learn more about our wedding gown cleaning and preservation services.