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Wedding Dress Cleaning and Preservation Tips

A properly preserved wedding gown can last years and years, emerging as fresh and pristine as on your wedding day! While nothing can replace the work of a certified, professional gown preservation process, here are basic guidelines for storing your gown.

Tips for Preserving Your Wedding Dress

  • If hanging your gown, do so by loops inside the dress that are connected to the sturdier side seams. Shoulder seams are much more fragile and can stretch, snag, or break.
  • Never store your dress in a vacuum sealed bag or plastic container! While this may seem like a great way to preserve your gown, plastic containers or bags emit fumes that can yellow or discolor the fabric. Additionally, moisture trapped within the container can cause a buildup of mildew or mold.
  • Choose a temperature-consistent location in which to store your gown. Attics or basements go through extreme changes in humidity and temperature, which can negatively affect fabrics and coloration.
  • Consider contacting a gown preservation specialist if your dress has delicate trims, decorations, or additional accessories (such as veils, petticoats, gloves, etc). Remember that shoes should never be stored in the same container as your dress, as fumes from the leather and glue can cause damage.
  • Of course, the first step in ensuring that your gown becomes a beautiful, lasting family heirloom is minimizing any potential hazards while the gown is actually in use! Be prepared on your wedding day just in case.
  • Bring plenty of safety pins for torn straps, broken zippers or bustle loops – using staples or sticky tape isn’t recommended, as they may damage the fabric of your gown.
  • In the unfortunate case of a stain, make sure you know your fabric! Synthetic fibers like polyster are usually easier to spot-clean, but unless the stain is large and very noticeable, we recommend that you leave it to the professionals.
  • In a pinch, water soluble stains (IE, tea, coffee, mud) on synthetic gowns respond well to dabbing cool water on the spot and letting it air dry. Do not rub the stain! Use caution however – any water on silk and rayon fabrics may leave permanent spots.
  • Often, spots can be camouflaged with baking soda, baby powder, or cornstarch.
  • Make-up, lipstick and grease can only be removed with a solvent like lighter fluid. However, these solvents can also affect dyes within the fabric, so test an unseen area of your dress first. Again, we recommend that any serious stains be left alone until a professional can deal with them.

What to Look For When Dry Cleaning & Preserving Your Wedding Dress

When entrusting your gown to a dry cleaner, it pays to take the time to do a little research! An experienced & certified wedding dress cleaner can mean the difference between a long-lasting, stain-resistant garment and one that may not stand the test of time.

  • Free gown evaluation – professional wedding dress cleaners take their work seriously, and you should expect a proper consultation and estimate for any cleaning or repair work.
  • Individual Hand Cleaning Process, done on-site – ask your cleaner about the process they have for formal gowns. Is your gown cleaned by hand individually, or in a group with other dresses and gowns? Proper cleaning of your dress should be a one-to-one process, with one dress and one gown specialist. Cleaning done off-site? Not a good sign.
  • Stain Treatment Process – common stains often dry clear on the fabric, especially those containing salt, sugar, or acids. Invisible at first, these stains are not removed in the typical dry cleaning process. Your gown specialist should be knowledgeable on anti-sugar stain treatment, and have a dedicated process to remove these stains; left untreated, they’ll gradually turn into a rather nasty brown over time.
  • Environmentally-sound, long-lasting protection – ask your cleaner how the garment will be returned to you. Our clients receive their gown layered in acid-free tissue, wrapped in freshly laundered muslin, then carefully preserved in a museum-quality archival wedding chest. Without this delicate preservation process, gowns face yellowing and “burns” from improper packaging – long dark streaks where the fabric touches the box.
  • Personal Inspection & Lifetime Guarantee – qualified wedding gown cleaners should provide you with a final inspection before the final stages of the preservation process. Additionally, Shores Cleaners offers an international lifetime guarantee, backed by our membership in the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists. Be cautious of cleaners who do not offer this guarantee – many times, the effects of improper preservation will not be noticed until several years after your wedding.
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