Even as you search around for the most fabulous dress to wear on the happiest day of your life, take special care to finalize the wedding dress cleaning company. The gown you choose is not just a prized memento of the vows you’re taking with the most special person in the world, but it could also be an heirloom piece that you hand down to future generations. When you start to check with family and friends, you’ll receive recommendations of local dry-cleaning services, chains of dry-cleaners that specialize in wedding gowns, or say, the couturier where you buy the dress.
If you aren’t quite sure about the best wedding dress cleaning company, your best bet is to check with the boutique that creates the ensemble. Depending on the fabric, embellishments, and other factors, the experts will advise you on the solvents that will remove the stains safely and the appropriate but affordable preservation processes that will keep the gown protected from damage over the years.
Here are a few of the factors to keep in mind when choosing the right agency.
- Check for Wholesale Cleaning or Specialist Cleaning
Like this feature on The Knot reveals, most dry-cleaning services don’t clean wedding dresses on site, but may send them to wholesale cleaning companies. These agencies use giant machines to wash possibly 30 or more garments at one go. Keep in mind that the staff may not pay attention to the small stains, spots, and dirty hemlines. You also risk the precious gown having additional dirt settle on it. Since you’ll receive the dress packed in an airtight box, you may not be able to examine it to make sure it has been cleaned properly. For this reason, it is best that you take the dress to specialists in wedding dress cleaning and preservation so you can be confident that all stains, visible or invisible have been removed properly.
- Ask the Designer for Cleaning Instructions
Wedding dress cleaning and preservation methods depend on the fabric of the gown, the lining, and the kind of laces, beads, sequins, pearls, and other embellishments on it. For instance, you may need to opt for dry cleaning, wet cleaning, or hand washing using the correct solvents. Read the label on the gown carefully for cleaning instructions. Since most couture boutiques remove the label at the time of making alterations, you’ll want to ask them for information about the materials and how to clean them just as this article on The Spruce explains.
- Understand the Difference Between Wet Cleaning and Dry Cleaning
Cleaning processes can be wet cleaning where the company uses water to wash the garments. Alternatively, you may need dry cleaning for the wedding gown depending on the fabric. This is a process where chemical solvents are used to clean the gown and remove stains. If needed, the agency may use a combination of the two methods to have the gown as good as new. The type of process can also depend on the kind of stains on the garment. For instance, if you have stains that are sugar-based like wine, soda, or cake icing, dry cleaning solvents may not be able to remove them and the wedding dress cleaning company will have to wash with water. On the other hand, oil-based stains cannot be removed with water and the company will have to use chemicals.
- When to Choose Water Cleaning
Aside from effectively removing sugar residue, water typically does not contain chemicals that can damage the fabric. Further, know that at the time of creating the material, many manufacturers add sizing which is a starchy compound that lends a crispy texture. Unfortunately, most sizing is made with corn, wheat, or rice starch that also acts as a magnet for pests. Water is the best agent that can remove the sizing and keep your dress protected. Wet wedding dress cleaning is also ideal for dirt on the hems and food spills, and for gowns made with synthetic fibers like for example, polyester. Above all, water will not damage any beads and sequins sewn on the dress so you won’t have to remove them before cleaning.
- When to Choose Dry Cleaning
If your wedding dress is made with delicate fabrics like silk, acetate, or rayon, you’ll need to use chemical solvents that are gentle on the material and won’t leave stains. Depending on the kind of solvent the wedding dress cleaning company is using, the staff may have to remove the trims and resew them after the process is complete. Also, check if the beads, sequins, and other embellishments are attached with glue because chemical solvents can dissolve the adhesive.
- Understand the Different Chemical Solvents
When choosing the best company that can take excellent care of your wedding dress, you should ask about the chemical solvents they use. Formerly, agencies used Perchlorethylene (PERC) which is now recognized as hazardous to the environment as explained by this feature on the Delaware.gov site. For this reason, solvents like the petroleum-based Stoddard and Hydro-carbon also called DF-2000 are sometimes used that are effective on oil stains but won’t harm beads, sequins and other trims. Possibly the safest solvents used in recent times is the Greenearth which is a silicone-based solvent and safe on embellishments also.
Your primary concern should be whether or not the solvents are virgin or recycled. That’s because, used solvents have impurities in them that can leave marks and stains on the gown. A good way to tell the difference is by the smell of the freshly-cleaned dress because virgin or newly-distilled solvent won’t leave an odor.
Given the value of the gown, you’ll want to choose the wedding dress cleaning company with utmost care. Spend some time researching to understand how the processes work and match them with the instructions outlined by the boutique where you buy your dress. The couple of hours you spend can result in a beautifully-preserved dress that you can hand down to your daughter. Take your time to pick the best company. It’s worthwhile!