wedding dress

Your wedding day is one of the most important and memorable events in your life, and your dress is probably a large part of what made it so special. Let’s be frank, you probably shelled out quite a bit of money for your gorgeous gown, so you’re going to want to keep it pristine. Maybe you’ll gift it to your daughter or a close female relative to wear at their wedding, or perhaps you just want to look at it every now and again to remember one of the most magical days of your life. Either way, you’re going to need to know how to clean a wedding dress.

An expensive wedding dress is often made with intricate details, embellishments, and delicate fabrics, so it requires special care. After splurging on a wedding, you’re not likely to want to invest another thousand dollars in protecting your gown. That’s why protecting your wedding dress with a recommended preservation process is so important. Knowing how to clean a wedding dress and store it properly will ensure your dress looks as good as the day you bought it for a lifetime.

How to Clean a Wedding Dress

Don’t be fooled—despite their overall delicacy, many wedding dresses take quite a beating during the reception. Eating, drinking, and dancing exact a toll on a dress, particularly if it’s white or another light color, so getting it clean after your wedding is an absolute must. That’s why we recommend you invest in wedding dress cleaning early on—after the wedding and before the honeymoon, if possible—to ensure any stains are taken care of quickly. A clean dress makes storing it—and keeping it in pristine condition—that much easier, but the elaborate designs can make knowing how to wash a wedding dress very difficult. You can try to spot-clean the occasional wine stain, but it’s challenging to spruce up the most elaborate gowns yourself.

If you want to learn how to clean a wedding dress at home, proceed with caution! Check the care label on your wedding gown first. The information on the tag will tell you what you can and can’t use to clean the dress. If the tag calls for specific dry cleaning processes such as “Dry Clean Only with Petroleum Solvent,” your best bet is to enlist a wedding dress preservationist or dry cleaner experienced with the recommended cleaning methods. If you only hire a professional once during your preservation efforts, try The Maids.

Don’t Forget Your Shoes and Bouquet

Knowing how to clean a wedding dress is pretty important, but the ensemble wouldn’t be complete without those shiny shoes and beautiful bouquets. You may not have considered preserving these along with your dress, but it’s fairly easy to do yourself. If your wedding shoes are cloth, you can usually remove scuffs and dirt with a mild detergent and water. For leather shoes, clean them with a damp cloth and give them a fresh coat of polish.

Once your shoes are nice and clean, wrap them in acid-free paper and store the shoes in your wedding dress preservation box or other safe location. To preserve your bridal bouquet, press the flowers or coat them in wax and hang them in a bag.

How to Preserve a Wedding Dress

Preserving a wedding dress properly is not a DIY project, but the value of having it done professionally can be priceless. If you include professional wedding dress preservation in your wedding budget, you can take some of the sting out of the typical $200 to $400 service cost.

Professional wedding dress preservation involves specialty dry cleaning that uses unique cleaning agents that protect fabric during extended storage. These preservation methods will prevent yellowing, brown oxidation stains, mold, and other damage to keep your wedding dress in pristine condition. After your wedding dress has been professionally cleaned and treated, it’s placed on a preservation bust and boxed in an acid-free preservation box. Because professional wedding dress preservationists use the same methods and materials as museums, you can count on your dress staying beautiful for decades.

If you’re also preserving your wedding shoes or other accessories, be sure to check with the preservationist about storing them in the same box.

How to Store a Wedding Dress

We know not every bride will spring for a professional wedding dress preservation service, so how to store a wedding dress after it’s dry cleaned? We know you wouldn’t dream of just throwing your gown on a hanger and sandwiching it in your closet between winter coats and the skirt you inherited from Aunt Esmeralda. Hanging a heavy wedding dress can distort its shape and leave it exposed to the elements, which is a fabric tragedy waiting to happen. But you can’t just shove a dress in an attic or under the bed with no protection, either. What’s a bride to do?

A waterproof chest or box

A large garment bag is better than nothing, but if you can afford it, spring for a proper chest or, at the very least, a sturdy, waterproof box. Wrap the dress in pre-washed, colorless fabric and place it gently in the chest. Wrapping it in colorful paper or print fabric can lead to color transfer—believe us, you don’t want that. Store the box in a place that will remain cool and dry, and your dress should be good to go.

An acid-free box

Because of the delicate nature of the fabric, it’s essential to know a couple of pointers for how to store a wedding dress. For example, you never want to store your wedding dress in a zippered plastic bag that’s not breathable. Without some airflow and the proper climate, moisture accumulates inside and can stain or discolor fabric. The best way to store a wedding dress is to invest in an acid-free box similar to the ones used by the pros. With your wedding dress freshly cleaned and preserved, it’s ready to pass along to someone you love or keep in perfect condition for years.

To find out how to clean and store other clothing, check out our other helpful housekeeping guides. We put our decades of experience at your fingertips to make housework more manageable with less work. If you want a fresh start or even less work around the house, consider one of our popular residential cleaning services. Find out how you can enjoy a clean home and more free time when you get your free estimate today.

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