Every bride should protect her investment by having her wedding gown professionally cleaned and stored. An expert dry cleaner or gown preservationist can make certain that your heirloom dress is protected from soil and age so it looks as new in 20 years as it did the day you wore it.
It’s all too common to find, years later, that your wedding gown wasn’t properly cleaned. Spills are lethal to a dress. Body oils turn the fabric yellow. If a dress isn’t cleaned properly, stains appear and are sometimes difficult to remove. And if the dress is poorly made, it may fall apart when it’s dry-cleaned.
Not every bride chooses to pack her wedding gown away in a box. It is perfectly acceptable to have your gown altered for use as a dress for special occasions. You should have your dress properly cleaned within 1 – 6 months after the wedding to preserve its beauty. You may not see them, but white wine and champagne stains will turn the fabric in a few months.
Here are more tips:
*Find a dry cleaner that advertises expert cleaning of wedding gowns. Ask the cleaner if he/she uses different solvents on gowns than on regular clothing. Standard solvents are too harsh for wedding gowns. These gowns must be cleaned with the gentlest cleaners in an acid-free environment.
*Ask if you can see the dress before it is packed. That way, you can see for yourself if all visible stains have been removed prior to storage.
*Wedding gowns should be stuffed with clean, acid free tissue. Acid-free tissue placed between the folds of the dress and stuffed in the bodice will prevent permanent wrinkles and folds as well as help stabilize the environment of the box.
*All shoulder pads, perspiration shields, and anything else made of foam should be removed from the gown. These materials don’t have a good shelf life, and when they deteriorate, they can ruin the material next to them.
*Also, avoid packing your gown with plastic or metal buttons, pins or buckles. You should NEVER keep mothballs or crystals near your gown, since the chemicals in these products can ruin the fabric over time. The gown may be wrapped in muslin and folded neatly into a cardboard box.
*Never hang your wedding gown for long-term storage and never seal the box completely. The gown will need proper air circulation. Once your gown is cleaned and boxed, store it in a closet or under a bed.
*Don’t put the gown in a hot attic or a cold basement. Extreme temperature changes can also damage your gown.
*Don’t be afraid to take your gown out of the box and look at it from time to time. That way, you’ll be sure the most important dress of your life is successfully standing the test of time. The gown should be refolded to prevent permanent creases and white cotton gloves should be worn while handling the gown to prevent oily fingers from making contact with the fabric.
*The cost of professionally cleaning and storing your dress can range from $75 – $600, depending on its size, fabric and detailing.
*To cut down on cost, you can pack away your gown yourself, but only after it has been professionally dry-cleaned. To do this, you will need a large box, tissue paper, and a cotton liner. Cedar chests can also be used instead of a box. Carefully arrange the bodice and skirt to avoid wrinkling, and crumple tissue paper in major folds to prevent hard creasing. Never use plastic or brown boxes. They contain materials that are harmful to the fabric.
No other garment will ever mean more to you than your wedding gown. Whether you choose to pass it on to your daughter or simply keep it as a permanent record of your wedding day, your gown deserves special attention. By cleaning and storing it properly, you will have a lasting and well-preserved memento that you can treasure forever.