Can you really clean your own wedding dress at home? That depends. Here are some factors to consider about wedding dress cleaning at home. What type or types of fabrics were used in the construction of your dress. Is it polyester, silk, rayon, or a combination of fabrics. Is it taffeta, chiffon, charmeuse, or organza?
Each different type of fabric may require a different approach first in getting stains our and second in the actual cleaning of the dress. Many fabrics can be hand-washed, or what the industry calls “wet cleaned” using water and various detergents.
Next to consider are any embellishment, lace, pearls or crystals that may be on the dress. Sometimes the embroidery thread is different than the wedding dress fabric. For example, embroidery done on silk is usually done with cotton thread. Cotton and silk can react differently to different cleaning methods. The same thing can be true about lace on the dress. Also are the pearls and/or crystals sewn on or glued on. Older dresses typically have glued on crystals and pearls. Better quality older dresses and most modern wedding dresses usually have sewn-on crystals and pearls. (If they are glued on then dry-cleaning solvents can dissolve the glue or discolor the crystal or pearl).
Once you are familiar and established these factors then you’ll need to consider the dirt and stains in the dress. Wedding dress cleaning starts with the hem of the dress. If the hem is just dirty from dust on the dance floor or lightly soiled then a gentle “scrubbing” with a soft white cloth or even a very soft-bristled brush and a little “Tide” will usually do the trick. Test an area of the hem to see.
If there are grass stains, oils from a hardwood dance floor or worse yet black asphalt stains from a parking lot, you’re in for a real challenge. Some oils can be removed with Tide and scrubbing, others like asphalt oil are more difficult. Test and see. If you need something stronger you may have to try a quality brand carpet cleaner – undiluted or something like “Goof-Off” (can be found at your local department, hardware store.)
After you’ve finished the hem the next area of wedding dress cleaning is the top of the bodice along the front of the dress and at the underarms. The top front of the dress can have make-up or spray tanning smeared on it. The underarms can have perspiration and deodorant stains. These have to be removed. Depending on what has caused the stain will depend on what needs to be used to remove it.
The next step in wedding dress cleaning is a thorough examination of the rest of the dress for any other stains. Wine stains are easy to spot. The more difficult stains to see are those caused by cake frosting, various sodas, and some white wines. These need to be removed.
After all of this is done then the dress can finally be cleaned.
Once it is completely cleaned it needs to thoroughly dry. It’s best not to hang the dress to dry. Hanging the dress can stretch the fabric – especially dresses with trains. The weight of the wet dress on the seams where the hanging loops are sewn in can stretch the seam and the fabric. It’s best to lay the dress out or over a clean area to let it air dry.
Storage of your dress is very important and actually the subject of a completely different article.