15 answers

Cleaning Wedding Dress

I got married 5 years ago and never got my wedding gown cleaned. It is 2 pieces and I would like to make the long satin shirt into a christening gown for my daughter. The only problem is that the dress is quite dirty espeically along the hem from my day of dancing at the wedding. I haven't taken it to a dry cleaners yet and was wondering if I could clean it at home? It is made out of heavy satin with a liner. I have no idea where to start. Or should I just take it to get cleaned professionally?

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I also had my wedding dress made into a christening gown. I am so glad that I did. I never had my wedding dress cleaned and the woman making the christening gown told me that she'd clean it before she made the gown for me. So, I would just ask the person making it, unless that's you, before you pay to get it cleaned and then she cleans it herself anyway.

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Okay, I'm a textile designer in the fashion industry and here's what we learned waaaaayyyy back in my college textiles classes:

You can totally do this yourself. Crazy as it sounds, a lot of drycleaners will simply throw a wedding dress into a washing machine to "professionally clean" it! Ha! They will undoubtedly follow up with steaming the wrinkles out of it, though. And then they fold it nicely with acid-free paper for you to store away in an acid-free box for whatever future use you may anticipate.

Because you probably don't want to have to do the steaming part, I'd skip the washing machines, though. They will wrinkle the heck out of the fabric and then you will have to try to iron or steam it yourself and that's a pain. Hand wash it and let it drip dry (no wringing!) You may have to touch it up with an iron but, it will be much easier than trying to get all of those spin-cycle wrinkles out.

Your gown is satin but, the important information to know is wether it made of silk or polyester or what? That is the real way to find out how to care for the fabric. No matter what the fiber content, you can't really go wrong with hand washing it and letting it drip-dry on a line or on a hanger in your shower. There are a couple of variations though, depending on the material.

If it's silk, wash it in a sink or wash tub using cold water with Woolite or Ivory dish liquid (the Ivory's actually really gentile and that's how I wash my fine hand-washables in lieu of drycleaning them. i.e. cashmere, silk, etc.). If your dress is polyester, just hand wash it with a conventional machine detergent like Tide and spot-treat the really dirty parts.

For the dirty spots: wet the stains with warm water (cool water, of course, if it's silk) and pour a little of the soap or detergent on the spot -- enough to cover the whole stain but, you don't have to go over-board. Then rub the fabric together with the soap to work the soap in to the fabric and the dirt out. Rinse, repeat if necessary.

Best wishes with the project! If you have any other questions, there's always Google!

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I wouldn't spend the money to have the entire gown cleaned if you are going to cut it up to make something else out of it. I would try cleaning it yourself first.

THere is an AMAZING restoration lab in Orange CT. They are truly incredible. I had both my wedding gown and twins christening outfits done there. My daughter had a diaper explosion on her gown and there are absolutely no stains on her gown. SHe is very helpful and told me that Dreft baby detergent will take out most stains and does wonders for the yellowing that happens to clothes. Maybe give that a try or it might be worth giving them a call and just asking her for advice. Good luck. I also think it's a beautiful idea that you are doing htat with your dress for your daughter. SHe will love it!!

I would definitely dry clean it, but... if you're going to make the christening gown yourself, you could test wash a part of the wedding dress that you aren't going to use. That way if you wash the unused part and it gets damaged, you still have nice fabric leftover to dry clean and make the dress. I agree it would be great to be thrifty and try to wash it yourself, but if the fabric gets ruined, then you have nothing left. Try washing a small unused part first.

Hi L., What a beautiful idea. Years ago my sister wanted to wear our mom's wedding dress. It was all yellow with age and dirty too. There was a product at the time "Biz" It may be something like Oxy clean. She soaked the dress (satin) dried it on the clothesline and ironed it. Perfect! I hope this helps. Many products that say dry clean only can still be washed. My best, Grandma Mary

Hi L. ... I recently did the same with an old christening outfit, and it turned out pretty well. Have you ever tried the OxyClean? It's a powder you can put directly in your washing machine. Fill the machine and add the dress and the powder. Let it soak for about 45 minutes--the OxyClean is not harmful like bleach. Then, let the machine agitate as usual. Hopefully, the dress with come out sparkling white!
Hope this helps!
-T.

I think you would be best off to have it professionally cleaned at a cleaner that regularly deals with wedding dresses since the dress material is specialized and likely delicate. If you are planning to use it for your daughter's christening gown, you should ask them about the chemicals they use to clean the dress since they may be too harsh for a baby's skin. Best of luck!

Because it is Satin, I would just have it professionally cleaned! The resulting water spots from a DIY job could be worse than the dirt from the dancefloor.

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