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.