Today you’ll learn how to preserve a wedding dress after your big day. Whether you want to keep it in good condition until your next anniversary or you want to store it for your future generation, knowing the right way to preserve the dress can go a long way to keep it in good condition for a long time.
Here’s the deal:
A bridal gown is a dress you’ll perhaps wear only once in your lifetime. For what it’s worth, the wedding dress symbolizes a crossover from one life to the next. But after you say “Yes, I do”, you have to figure out what to do with the dress.
You do have options.
You can sell, donate, or upcycle the gown yourself or with a help of a specialized company. Or you can preserve it as a unique souvenir or a valuable heirloom for the future generation. In this guide, we look at what you can do to preserve a wedding dress so that it stays in the best condition possible for years to come.
Can I Preserve My Wedding Dress at Home?
You can preserve a wedding dress yourself at home, but the approaches you use won’t be as effective as professional treatment and preservation.
Keep in mind that wedding dresses are made of different fabrics. So, the cleaning methods will vary. First, you’ll have to determine if your bridal gown is made of chiffon, lace, tulle, satin, or charmeuse and then use the cleaning method recommended below.
Is Wedding Dress Preservation Necessary?
Wedding dress preservation is necessary to keep it free of aging and stains. It also helps to keep the dress in good condition for a very long time. You should take care of it unless you want to go through the trouble of restoring your yellowed gown’s color down the line.
And the preservation process doesn’t have to be anything complicated. More often than not, it involves proper cleaning and wrapping in an acid-free paper, after which you should store it in a climate-controlled environment in your home until the next time someone needs to use it.
How to Preserve a Wedding Dress Yourself
Professional bridal gown makers don’t often recommend preserving wedding dresses at home, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do it. Here are some guidelines to follow if you’ve decided that you’d rather preserve the dress on your own:
Step #1: Clean the Wedding Dress
Wear white cotton gloves to handle the bridal gown. Doing so ensures you don’t stain the dress – or add more stains to it if it already has some.
The next step is to spot test the fabric to make sure your cleaning method won’t harm the type of fabric used to design the wedding dress.
- Satin: You should hand wash or dry-clean the dress in cold water with a mild detergent, and then air-dry.
- Charmeuse: You can hand wash or dry clean in cool water, but make sure you use silk wash products only. Then, air-dry.
- Lace: Use cold water and gentle soap. Soak the dress in soapy water for about 30 minutes and then hand wash gently. Rinse the gown and lay it flat to dry.
- Chiffon and organza: You should only dry-clean this type of wedding dress.
- Tulle: This type of fabric requires either gentle soap or soap flakes. You’ll use warm water for cleaning, but you shouldn’t wring the dress. Dry it out in direct sunlight.
You can use a soft-bristled brush to spot clean the dress. Something as gentle as a toothbrush should be good enough to get the job done.
Don’t bleach your bridal gown. The fabric is so delicate that harsh chemicals can easily damage the quality of the dress. Even though bleaching agents get rid of stains fast, use the conventional methods we’ve shared above to retain the quality of your wedding dress.
Step #2: Wrap the Dress in Acid-free Paper
The second step in bridal gown preservation is to wrap the dress in an acid-free paper – or a pre-washed muslin free of bleaching.
- Place tissues between the folds of the dress to keep it from creasing.
- Stuff the sleeves and bust with tissue to maintain the gown’s full shape.
- Insert the dress in an acid-free container (or box) and seal it. Then, store it in a controlled environment free from exposure to harsh light or temperature.
Some professionals recommend adding silica desiccant packets in the container. While this isn’t a must-have, it can go a long way to help control the level of humidity in the container (or box).
You can use an acid-free plastic garment bag if you don’t want to use a box or a container. The bag helps hang the dress in a closet, far away from harsh sunlight or insanely high temperatures.
Mistakes to Avoid When Preserving a Wedding Dress
The following are some of the mistakes that you need to avoid when preserving your wedding dress for the future use:
Don’t Use Wood or Wire Hangers
Don’t hang your bridal gown with a hanger made of wood or wire. The dress is heavier than your standard wear, so the weight may pull the fabric and lead to possible fabric tear or overall distortion.
Padded hangers are usually the best option for hanging a wedding dress in your closet. They can stand up to the weight of the dress, not to mention enhance airflow while ensuring you never have to worry about the permanent creasing of the dress.
Don’t Store the Dress in a Harsh Environment
We strongly advise you against storing your wedding dress in a cellar, a garage, a basement, or an attic. While these environments can be a good storage idea, the temperatures and humidity there are too extreme to preserve bridal gowns in the best way possible.
The best place to store the gown is in a specialized, good storage box in an environment where you can easily control the temperature and humidity, so your dress remains in good condition for an extended period of time.
Frequently asked questions
How do you preserve a wedding dress at home?
Place the dress in an acid-free container and store it in an area that is safe from harsh light or temperatures (think under a bed). You should also add silica desiccant packets inside the box for humidity control. Alternatively, you can use an acid-free plastic garment bag to hang the dress in a cool, dry closet.
How do I store my wedding dress temporarily?
Every month, take the dress off the hanger and lay it on a flat surface, like an extra bed, in a cool, dark, dry environment with the shades drawn and the air conditioning on,” he says. “Let it lay overnight for a day or two, just to relieve that stress.
Is preserving a wedding dress worth it?
Definitely have preservation done if you want your dress’s beauty to last long term, and you aren’t planning on taking it out of its box anytime soon. Dresses that aren’t preserved can yellow over time.
Can wedding dresses stay in a vacuum bag?
Never store your dress in a vacuum-sealed bag or plastic container! While this may seem like a great way to preserve your gown, plastic containers or bags emit fumes that can yellow or discolor the fabric. Additionally, moisture trapped within the container can cause a buildup of mildew or mold.
Can you get your wedding dress cleaned years later?
Waiting to have your wedding dress cleaned and preserved should not cost you any more whether you wait 3 months or 5 years after your wedding day.
Do vacuum seal bags prevent mold on clothes?
They can also be used to store clothing and blankets in your car for travel emergencies. These bags protect your items from dirt, dust, bugs, and moisture; vacuum-sealing drastically reduces the effect of oxidation and retards the growth of mildew. Remember though, never store a wedding dress this way!
How do you get sweat stains out of a wedding dress?
Use a Q-tip to dab it off. If that doesn’t work, combine 4 parts water + 1 part ammonia + 1 part peroxide + 1 part dish soap and put a white towel or absorbent cloth under the garment with the stain.
Is it better to fold or hang clothes?
While not everything should be folded, not everything should be hung either. How you store your clothes can be a matter of preference, but also a matter of maintenance; for instance, hanging the wrong material can ruin the shape of the clothing, while folding the wrong item can wrinkle and crease it. If it does wrinkle, here’s how to unwrinkle it at home.
As you can see, it isn’t difficult to preserve a wedding dress yourself. The results might not be as impeccable as professional bridal gown preservation, but you save a lot of money in the process.
Also, remember it’s important to check the gown about every two years, and refold it just to be sure it won’t crease.