Post-Nuptial Wedding Dress cleaning

justjudeMay 17, 2004

I was so enthralled and disoriented after my DD's wonderful wedding on May 1 that I kept her wedding dress hanging in my home office so I could look at it and sigh a hundred times a day, remembering how fabulous she looked in it and what a wonderful wedding it was! (Did I say that already?)

Finally last Friday I took it to the cleaners to be cleaned and carefully put away--whatever they do with wedding dresses which will almost certainly live out their lives in a box in the attic forever. (I have my own wedding dress--1967--and my mother's wedding dress--1939--in boxes in my attic).

Imagine my shock when I was told that it would cost $210 to clean and preserve her dress! I brought it home again instead of leaving it there.

Is this really necessary? Sheesh!! I thought the days of shelling out the big bucks were over!

Anyone have any advice?

Judy, happy mother-in-law

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$200?!! Good Grief Charlie Brown! That is utterly ridiculous!
I guess I am going to have to shop around, as I REFUSE to pay that much to have my dress cleaned and stored!
Hey, my dress is pink, think I can tell them it's a prom dress, and not have to pay as much?! LOL

    Bookmark   May 17, 2004 at 9:30PM
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Thats about average now days for dress preservation. If you think about how much work it goes into preserving the dress and then boxing it, I can totally understand. I still wouldn't pay that much, but don't expect it to be any less...I only found one place that would do it for $150, but I'd check before you take it to any place, make sure they are a reputable cleaner...
Good luck.

    Bookmark   May 18, 2004 at 1:40AM
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Penny, my mom called around about wedding dress preservation for my sister, and was quoted over $100 each time. She called again, and asked about a prom dress, and got it done for about $50...definately try it! :-)

    Bookmark   May 18, 2004 at 11:46AM
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Yes, that's average. Personally, I think it's worth it, others do not. They also pack it in an acid free box with acid free paper, so if you're hoping to keep it the way you've kept your own and your mother's dresses, I think it's a good idea to shell out the bucks.

If you do anything at all, please get it drycleaned. It will yellow due to perspiration if you don't.

Andrea :o)

    Bookmark   May 18, 2004 at 11:54AM
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That price sounds about right. I had my gown preserved by a company that specializes in cleaning museum fabrics. It cost about $300 - I had a $100 gift certificate and purchased the cleaning in advance - otherwise it would have cost more like $600! I just got it back and it looks fantastic - they cleaned my bag and veils, wrapped everything in acid free paper and in a acid free box, and gave me gloves to handle the gown with. It isn't sealed, so I can take it out whenever I want. I really thought it was worth it to use the cleaners - it was expensive, but it was a fraction of what the gown actually cost me. And, the costs included shipping to and from the cleaners.

Here is a link that might be useful: Wedding Gown Preservationist - J Scheer

    Bookmark   May 25, 2004 at 8:16PM
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After staring at the big box for over a year and having to move it everytime (**&&!!) I had to get at something else in the closet, I decided to liberate my closet and let someone else wear it. It's purpose was served and I can see it as frequently as I like by looking at my photos. I am a big believer in "minimizing". It took about a year for the "sentimental" feelings to wear off and I was happy to let someone else have a chance to wear it while it was still in style. Unless it is a family heirloom, I just don't see the point in spending all that money to preserve something you'll never use again.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2004 at 5:19PM
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I think dcgirl has an important observation. What is your purpose for having the dress preserved? Does preserving the dress fulfil that purpose?

Preserving a dress does take a fair amount of money. Storing a preserved dress does take a fair amount of space. It isn't a foolish use of money or space, if you are getting what you want from it. However, it seems sometimes wedding gowns are preserved "because it is my wedding dress" with little real thought.

I preserved my dress by cutting it up. I put some of the fabric and trim in a shadow box with an invitation, my mother's dried corsage, and the ribbon from the box my engagement ring came in. That is up on the wall and I look at it daily. For me (and MY reason for wanting the dress preserved and MY finances and MY storage/moving issues) this was a fantastic way of preserving the dress. It obviously wouldn't be the way to go for everyone.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2004 at 7:14PM
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Anything connected with a wedding is turned into a big production and jacked up in price. When my mom got married (1952) her mom washed her dress in Woolite in the bathtub, wrapped it in tissue, and put it in a box. It was never "preserved." It's still fine except for some illusion in the neckline that's turned yellowish (and could easily be replaced if someone wanted to).

    Bookmark   June 3, 2004 at 10:59AM
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My mother keeps insisting that getting my (simple handmade) dress cleaned won't cost more than $10-20. I find this hard to believe---unless I don't tell them it's a wedding dress, like others said.

I, unlike most brides, did not do much while in my dress at all--other than the short service, pictures, and walk to the reception. After we ate and took pictures we changed into different clothing. We did not have dancing at our outdoor picnic reception.

My mother made my dress of shantung silk, lace, and some beaded trim. Is this hard to clean? Are there any alternatives to a professional cleaner?

    Bookmark   June 3, 2004 at 12:43PM
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I would definitely have it dry-cleaned. I guess I would be surprised if you can get it done for $10, but, I suppose $20 might be possible. But even if you don't call it a "wedding dress", the fact remains that it is silk, lace, and BEADING, all of which might call for extra care.

As far as preserving goes, there was a discussion thread on ths topic several months ago (I couldn't find it, so it must be too long ago). Some of the women who had a lot of experience with this said that there is nothing particularly "special" done in the preserving. It was suggested that after having your dress cleaned you can store it in a white, 100% cotton garment bag, and keep it in a cool, dry place (so no hot attics or damp basements). This is what we are doing with DD's dress

    Bookmark   June 3, 2004 at 3:50PM
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When they "preserve" a dress, they store it in an acid-free box with acid-free paper. There's more information on the link that AutumnBride posted earlier in this thread.

Andrea :o)

Here is a link that might be useful: Wedding Gown Preservation

    Bookmark   June 3, 2004 at 4:57PM
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I remember seeing an afternoon TV show with Lisa and the topic was the news that many of the preservation companies were sealing up the crinoline and puffing it up and selling off the bride's wedding gown. She had brought her own sealed boxed wedding gown to the show. At the end of the show, she said that she would now open it. Would she discover she had been ripped off as other brides had reported? She was shocked to find only her crinoline sealed in the box. This ending was clearly not one she had expected. So I have double mixed feelings about preservation.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2004 at 12:43AM
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I think many of us think the preserving involves some very mysterious and special process...but from the ealier discussion, I got the impression that the only thing unique is that it is stored in acid-free tissue and box -- both of which can be purchased on-line (just do a google search). And the knowledgeable post-ers from the earlier discussion (one of whom was an experienced seamstress and had worked in a dry-cleaners) were quite definite that -- AFTER cleaning -- the white 100% cotton cloth storage option was every bit as good, if not better.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2004 at 9:57AM
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my future MIL still has her dress hangin in the closet in the garment bag it came in, its wrepped in a cotton sheet. its still perfect. so if you have the space its a good way to save your dress.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2004 at 2:31AM
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My wedding dress, from 1957 was stored in a cloth bag in my closet until my daughter wanted to wear it in 1983.....had it cleaned and pressed....she wore it, cleaned again and it's back in the cloth bag in my closet.
I don't expect it will will be fit to wear again, we both partied hearty and there is at least one hole in the skirt from a high heel in a vigorous dance....but 2 wearings isn't bad!
When they preserve a wedding dress....they clean and press at least the bodice, then stuff it with acid free tissue and place it in a box with a see through cover....
To me it looks rather like a coffin!
Have it cleaned....rinse some clean sheets with disilled water, let dry and wrap your dress and store it in an acid free box.
Why does it need to be pressed?
Linda C

    Bookmark   June 6, 2004 at 11:40PM
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FYI - the company I recommended does not seal the box - the dress is most definitely there. They also do more than just wrap the dress in acid-free paper and box. The analyze the stains and remove all things that may cause fabric to weaken or discolor. They also repaired bead work and damage to the actual garmet.

It is not recommended to hang a gown - a wedding dress is very heavy, especially the skirt - hanging the gown can cause it to stretch and weaken and/or break threads.

I have heard that drycleaning a gown is not the way to go - the chemicals drycleaners use are harsh and do cause discoloration. Work with a company that is reputable and allows you to verify that they have done the job they promised to deliver - i.e. you should be able to open up the garmet and see for yourself that it has been cleaned.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2004 at 6:39PM
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This company came recommended very highly from many brides that post on the wedding channel. I had my daughters dress cleaned and preserved there and they did a wonderful job and the price was reasonable I thought. I can see the dress through the box and she can take it out and look at it. In fact they recommend that you do this. Hope this helps.

Here is a link that might be useful: wedclean

    Bookmark   June 16, 2004 at 9:18AM
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Hello, My name is Mia and I hang out regularly at the "Laundry Room" forum and I stubbled in here just to see what it is like. And boy am I HAPPY I showed up!!! Over at the LR forum we are a crazy bunch, some of us own over two pairs of Laundry machines (like me) and just love to clean clothes!! Yes, you may think we are crazy, but hey- who isn't?!

So I'm surfing along and I see this post and I giggle like mad to myself because I DO know the preservation process of a wedding gown.When I was a teenager I used to work at a drycleaners and the manager and I (her faithful assistant) specialized on perserving all gowns.

First of all "dry cleaning" isn't really dry. They use a chemical called Perchloroethyline aka "perc". It was developed by a french chemist in 1890 looking for a better way to clean clothes, however it is VERY toxic and causes tumors, cancer, and Federal goverment is very strict on how it can be disposed of. There are harsh fines for cleaners who don't obey the law and perc cannot be available for consumers only for licensed dry cleaners. Perc is a very very bad substance and I reccomend no one try using this stuff at home.

Now the perc is recycled throughout the day on various objects like shirts, pants, etc because it cannot be disposed of after just being used once. Keep in mind that perc is (in some people's opinion) the most gentle way to clean. When you pay for that big fee of $200 or whatever
you are basically paying for using the Perchloroethyline first. Have you ever noticed when you pick dry cleaning sometimes it smells perfumey or smokey? That is because is was washed in "recycled" perc that cleaned something perfumey or smokey. It doesn't mean however it's not clean. Wedding dresses use the perchloroethyline first. Dry cleaners usually have a tub filled with fresh perc and they lay the dress down in the solution and then hang it to dry. The Perc then dissapates as the dress itself then dries. Nice dresses (cocktail, party, prom) usually use the perc second. Then the perchloroethyline get funneld into special front loading machines (because they wash more gentle than top loading ones) and then they clean all other things before the perc is then disposed of.

After the dress has air dried, it is then steamed and put into and acid free box with acid free paper.

Many people want to know whether paper is better than cotton? Well, it all depends. Cotton will attract dust which could yellow the garment or in turn attract moths. And how the cotton is washed is another thing all together. If you want cotton I reccomend that you wash the cotton sheet in the hottest water possible with sttp and tide regular. No chorine bleach or oxyclean and rinse twice and dry in dryer until completely dry. Use a cotton high in thread count and one that is thick and sturdy that won't let dust in easily. Some people believe that cotton can attract bugs or other things that will deteriorate the fibers in clothes ,but you must keep an eye on this cotton and keep it clean and you should do fine. I do prefer the paper though as it will help the dress hold up nicely and if wanted to be worn again. Acid-free paper and boxes can be bought at any paper store. Keep away from any extremes like a moist attic or damp, cold basement.

When I was married and because I'm a laundry freak, I cleaned my own dress. My dress was nothing ornate (just linen) because I was married in Maui on the beach. Many dresses can be cleaned like the way I cleaned mine.

Note: This is only for the ambitious like me!!!

First you want to clean your bathtub with bon-ami or baking soda. Not comet or ajax that have chemicals that could taint the dress when cleaning it. If you have ta water that has a lot of chemicals in it like chlorine get a ph balancer for your water. You can probably find one at a pool store. Fill your tub with cool, not cold water, and add Forever New detergent (purchased at any Nordstroms or Bon/Macy's). Please no woolite; contary to belief it is too harsh for delicate things. Lay your dress in water and let soak for a half an hour to an hour. If you have any stains like champagne or cake there is this kit you can buy called dryel (WARNING: the Dryel drycleaning system with it's bag and wet cleaning cloth that you put in your dryer will ruin any clothes you have. Don't use it, you are only using a piece of that kit for stain removal.) In it there is a bottle filled with a stain removing material. Read the directions and remove the stain.

After your dress has soaked, drain water and gently press water out of dress. Fill the tub that has the dress with cool water to rinse the dress. Do this two or three times until water runs clear and there are no suds left. Don't ever swish dress in wash or in rinse, it will damage the material. after final rinse, gently press as much water as you can from dress.and lay on clean white towels and gently press water out of dress. Hang dry. Steam when dry and fold with acid-free paper and put in acid free box.


If you want the easiest thing that will last, I say dish the money out if you don't want to clean it yourself. If you don't like the paper, use the cotton.

Thank You all again~~~~ Mia

    Bookmark   June 17, 2004 at 6:23PM
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Autumn bride is right about the hanging. I could hang mine because it was light. Usually they lay it flat to dry. But all companies, wether they are perservist or cleaners use perchloroethyline. Some say they do not but there are not anything else they could use unless they have created a better detergent and are using water.


    Bookmark   June 17, 2004 at 6:32PM
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Thank you for all that info, Mia! You're the best!

Andrea :o)

    Bookmark   June 21, 2004 at 11:55AM
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"I remember seeing an afternoon TV show with Lisa and the topic was the news that many of the preservation companies were sealing up the crinoline and puffing it up and selling off the bride's wedding gown."

????? I guess it could happen. Every single box I've seen had a clear window in the front. The bodice was put on a bust form to approximate a lady's torso, carefully centered in the clear window.

A preservation company should de-sugar the gown, (that is pre-treat and remove the sugary food substances.) The sugar left behind is what turns brown over 20 years.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2010 at 10:54PM
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why resurrect a SIX year old post?

    Bookmark   September 15, 2010 at 5:01PM
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