How To Clean Your Wedding Gown

Cleaning your wedding dress before you store it is extremely important to reducing the chance of mould, insects, chemical damage, and abrasion. However the way you clean your dress is also very important to its long term care.

Hand-washing

Washing textiles is a delicate and potentially harmful cleaning measure that should never be undertaken without first carefully assessing the composition and condition of the dress. First, refer to the cleaning instructions if one is provided on the dress. Please follow the recommendations found on the label, as the manufacturer’s instructions are most appropriate to your particular dress. If you are unsure of how to clean your dress seek the advice of a professional. Do not proceed if you are not absolutely sure the fabric is safe for washing. However, if you determine your dress can be safely washed, examine and remove attachments that will not withstand immersion in water or that contain dyes that could transfer to the piece.

Before washing the garment, remove surface dust and dirt by brushing with a very soft brush or cloth. Every textile, especially very fragile dresses, require uniform support during washing. For this purpose lay the dress on a towel or nylon screen. When washing use a basin that will accommodate the textile laid flat. Next, fill the basin with 20o C to 38o C water, and allow the item to soak for 10 minutes. If the dress is very dirty, soak it a second time in clean water. Change the water and add one teaspoon of mild detergent per litre of water. (Most detergents available, including those for delicate fabrics, are not recommended because they contain perfumes, colourants, and whiteners. If available, use an anionic detergent, such as the products ‘W.A. Paste’ or ‘Orvus’, found in drugstores in some provinces.) Return the dress to the water, and press it gently with a sponge to loosen dirt. Never rub or squeeze the dress. Wash the dress a second time or until the washing water remains clean. Finally, rinse the textile several times, holding the corners of the towel to lift it in and out of the basin between rinses. Continue rinsing until all of the detergent is rinsed out. If stains and spots remain on a washed dress, they are best left alone. Old textiles can be damaged by treatments more aggressive than gentle washing.

To dry, place the dress between dry white terry towels. Pat dry, using as many towels as necessary to absorb the water. Lay the dress flat, using towels to provide interior support and to help retain the shape of the garment. Smooth lace with your fingers so it dries as straight as possible. Fans or blow dryers on a cool setting can be used to accelerate drying.

Never store a dress until it is completely dry.

Dry-cleaning

Wedding dresses, because of their delicate nature and significance, need special attention and care when dry-cleaned. Only very sturdy items should be cleaned by a professional who specializes in cleaning wedding gowns. Because the dry-cleaning process involves harsh chemicals and mechanical tumbling action similar to machine washing and drying, extreme caution should be taken when getting your dress dry-cleaned. To determine if a dress can be dry-cleaned, inspect it thoroughly to ensure that the textile does not have threadbare areas, tears, torn seams, or fragile linings and attachments. If the dress is not in suitable shape to have dry-cleaned remember that what is most important is that it is not damaged. Before you choose a cleaner, approach different cleaners and discuss the process and cost, as it can be expensive. Both you and the cleaner should have the same expectations of how the garment will be cleaned and cared for to avoid any problems.

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