Your wedding dress will almost always have a cherished memory associated with it – just like your wedding photos or grandmother’s handkerchief. What you do with your dress is one of the last important wedding-related decisions you will make. Whether you are yet to be married or just returned from your honeymoon, it is crucial to know how to clean your wedding dress correctly and what your options are. Most importantly, the sooner you have your wedding dress cleaned the better, to ensure temporary stains don’t be come permanent. Cleaning your wedding dress immediately after wearing it will also prevent the fabric from yellowing and deteriorating. So, how do you clean your wedding dress? We’ll help you choose the best wedding dress cleaning option with a brutally honest review:

1. DIY

Spot Treatment

After performing a thorough inspection of your dress, you may find just a few minor stains. You can choose to spot treat them. This method works best for small light stains on the embellishments (like bows, lace, sashes or feathers). However, be aware of the following precautions:

  • Invisible stains, such as perspiration or champagne, may be lurking on the dress that can permanently damage the dress overtime.
  • Unintentionally damaging the fabric or embellishment with harsh spot correctors. Always do a patch test first.

Hand Washing

If your dress is hand-washable according to the label – and you think you have the time and capability to take on the responsibility of dealing with delicate garments, intricate designs, sequins, crystals and beads – then make sure you do thorough research on how to clean your dress. There are many sources online for cleaning every kind of dress at home. Just remember, you run the risk of ruining the color and material of your dress if not washed and dried properly – so be very careful.

Machine Washing

Even if this is your last resort, we urge you to think again. If you still don’t change your mind, make sure you have all the settings under your control. Remove all embellishments and accessories on your dress, as the rotation will cause them to scratch the fabric. No matter what you do, DO NOT machine dry the dress in a dryer. Always be sure to read the cleaning recommendations on the label that are specific to your dress. Even a dress label that says it can be machine washed it is almost always better to have it cleaned by a professional.

2. Dry Cleaning

Your local dry cleaner may charge a marked up price – that is higher than usual – for wedding dress cleaning as they often outsource it to professionals and take a cut. The majority of local dry cleaners don’t have the necessary knowledge, training or equipment to handle delicate or intricate fabrics. They often send it away to a specialist to reduce their risk. Before you settle for a local dry cleaner, be sure to:

  • Shop Around: You will find varying costs for the same cleaning process.
  • Ask Around: Ask for referrals and request a warranty/certificate of guarantee.
  • In House: Ask if they clean the dresses in house or send them off. If they send it off, you are better off sending it to a specialist directly (see Option 3 below). Less chance of your dress getting lost and usually less expensive if you send it directly to a specialist.
  • Toxic Chemicals: 95% of the dry cleaners use a chemical called PERC which is highly toxic. Ask them if they use PERC.
  • Garment Bags: If you don’t have your dress preserved, in addition to cleaning, it will likely come back to you in a white garment bag.  These garment bags will cause the fabric to yellow over time due to the chemicals in the plastic. In addition, garment bags do not fully protect the dress from moths, pets, or mold or mildew. Garment bags are intended for temporary storage before your wedding. Garment bags are not meant for long term storage. Wedding Dress Cleaning

3. Professional Cleaning and Preservation

Conveniently available online, sending your dress to a wedding dress preservation specialist, has become the most trusted and popular way of cleaning wedding gowns. Reputable companies offer packages that cover all aspects – shipping, handling, guarantees, insurance, cleaning, restoring, hand spot cleaning, special attention to the hemline, visible and invisible stain correction, repairs, accessories preservation, packaging, boxing, preserving – and everything in between. However, not all companies provide all of this, even if they may claim to do so. Some dry cleaners offer many of these services, but they usually send it to a specialist and charge more. Since it is an online service, make sure you do your research and check their reputation before you trust anyone. This includes checking:

  • What’s Included: Just because it is handled by experts, doesn’t mean it has to be expensive. There are affordable options by very reputable companies.
  • Guarantee: Most reputable companies will offer a guarantee against yellowing. Keep in mind that if you clean your dress by yourself and it yellows, the only option you’ll have is for your dress to be restored. Restoration services and more expensive than preservation services and still may not get your dress back to it’s original brightness and luster.
  • What Other Brides Say: The best way to find a reputable company is to learn from real brides. Reputable professional cleaning and preservation companies can be found by reading reviews by fellow brides on websites such as WeddingWire and The Knot.

Wedding Dress Cleaning

Best Choice for Wedding Dress Cleaning

Despite there being many options for wedding dress cleaning, professional wedding dress cleaning and preservation by a specialist is by far the best choice to ensure beautiful and long lasting results. Not only does it offer the best protection for your dress, but it also offers peace of mind knowing it’s been professionally cleaned and has a guarantee whether you want to keep it or sell it.

We hope the process of cleaning your wedding dress is a successful one no matter which option you select. Comment below and let us know which wedding dress cleaning option you chose!

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