With the careful planning that goes into selecting the perfect bridal gown and the special memories that go along with it, many brides choose to preserve their dress as a keepsake or with the intention of passing it down to a family member. The Whirlpool Institute of Fabric Science has advice for brides to ensure their wedding gowns are beautiful for years to come.
Cleaning - for better or for worse
Have your gown cleaned within a few weeks of the nuptials. The longer stains and soil are left on your dress, the greater the probability of them becoming permanent.
Seek professional help. Take the gown to a preservation specialist trained in the art of textile conservation or a dry cleaner trained in cleaning and preparing gowns for storage. They can
identify all the stains and spills, even those you can't see. Storing - A lifetime commitment
Do not store your gown in a plastic bag! Plastic can break down over time releasing chemicals and fumes that can discolor and destroy fabrics.
If you are boxing your gown for storage, wrap fabrics in acid-free white tissue. Bodices or other curved areas of a garment should be stuffed with tissue to prevent creasing.
If you use an "acid-free" cardboard box, you'll need to change the box every three to five years. Cardboard is absorbent, and even "acid-free" boxes can re-acidify over time.
Store your gown in a cool, dry place. A damp basement or a hot, humid attic can cause mildew and yellowing of fabric.
Keep your gown packed away from sunlight and artificial light. Most light sources can cause degradation and fading of heirloom textiles.
Caring - To honor and cherish
If you are hanging your gown, wrap it in a white sheet or muslin, and hang with the inside loops that are connected to sturdy side seams. Never hang it by the fragile shoulder seams that can
stretch or sag.
Check your gown occasionally for damage while it is in storage. Stains that weren't initially apparent can appear at a later date and should be treated immediately.