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Cleaning & Preservation Services For Vintage Dresses & Gowns

Passing down a vintage wedding dress or evening gown from generation to generation is a great way preserve the timeless styling and romance of earlier times. From grandmother to mother to daughter, these gowns are typically high-quality garments with the ability to last multiple lifetimes – that is, if they’re properly cleaned, preserved, and stored by a professional vintage gown specialist like Shores Fine Dry Cleaners.

To ensure that your garment can be handed down as a treasured family heirloom, look for a gown specialist that has the experience and professional knowledge to properlyclean and preserve vintage bridal gowns and evening dresses.

Vintage Gown Cleaning

The first step in cleaning a vintage gown is to begin the process as soon as possible after the garment has been worn. Typically, vintage clothing spends the majority of its life in long-term storage, so this alters the cleaning process. It goes without saying that any specialty garment should be taken to a professional cleaner, but also make sure that the cleaner knows proper cleaning procedures for clothing going into storage. Look for a cleaning process that begins with a hand-treating stage. Here, the gown should be examined and repaired individually, never in conjunction with any other garments.

Make sure that your cleaner is familiar with more advanced stain treatment techniques. Spills containing acidic components, salt, or sugar may not appear immediately, but will darken to a nasty brown color while the dress is in storage. An anti-sugar stain treatment can reveal and remove these spots before the preservation process begins.

After the washing stage (which should be done by hand, and with your garment exclusively), make sure that the cleaner uses a final rinse stage to remove any leftover chemicals or detergent. When placed in storage, these detergents can gradually eat away at the fabric, resulting in fading, yellowing, or additional staining. This final rinsing phase, using a solvent or residue-free water, is critical to proper vintage gown cleaning.

Over-drying can also be an issue with vintage dresses. Naturally, the fibers of the garment will retain a certain amount of moisture. This is a good thing, as over-drying via direct sunlight, heat, or traditional dryers will lead to brittle, cracked fibers. Verify with your cleaner that they have a proper drying facility for your vintage gown. This should use the method of continuous cool air, blown gently through the garment.

Preserving Vintage Dresses

It’s a common misconception that proper vintage gown preservationmeans storing the dress in an airtight, vacuum sealed bag. In fact, these plastic containers can emit fumes that will, over time, cause the dress the fade or yellow. Additionally, a properly dried garment will naturally retain some moisture in its fibers. If this moisture is blocked from escaping, your vintage dress will mildew.

Instead, the vintage gown preservation kit used by your specialist should incorporate archival-quality materials, such as acid-free tissue or fabric. Most commercial boxes and tissue paper are heavily acidic, and can leave “burn” marks on gowns over time. Additionally, look for a preservation chest that blocks harmful light from reaching the garment. Natural, additive-free fabrics like muslin are ideal for this.

Within the preservation chest, make sure that the cleaner avoids the use of metal or plastic hangers or shaping. Again, these materials can emit fumes or deteriorate over time, causing corrosion of the gown fabric. Similarly, never pack shoes in the same chest as your gown! Leather, glue, and other materials from the shoes can emit the same caustic fumes.

Vintage Gown Cleaning & Preservation Services

For a proper vintage gown cleaning or a 100% guaranteed preservation service for vintage dresses, we encourage you to contact a professional cleaning specialist certified by the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists, such as Shores Fine Dry Cleaners. By spending a little extra effort on a specialty cleaning and preservation, you can ensure that your vintage garment becomes a treasured family heirloom, and can be passed down for generations.

View a few of our happy customer testimonials.

Tips & Advice


  • hang your wedding gown by loops inside the gown that are connected to sturdy side seams, never by fragile shoulder seams that can stretch or sag.
  • avoid storing your wedding gown in plastic bags or vacuum-sealed, plastic wrapped containers because plastic emits fumes that can yellow your bridal gown and trap moisture that mildews your wedding gown.
  • ask what precautions the specialist takes to protect delicate trims and decorations on your wedding gown and how the cleaner guards against latent stains on your wedding gown.
  • choose a specialist who will personally process your bridal gown, never one who sends your bridal gown away to be cleaned.
  • ask to inspect your wedding gown personally before it is put into the container, which should be a completely acid-free, museum-quality, archival wedding chest lined with fabric or acid-free tissue.
  • avoid storing your bridal gown in the attic or basement where there are extreme changes in temperature or humidity.

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