Hints and Tips » Caring for your dress
Read more about how to take a good care of your dress on your best day and after ...
RCS Advises on the care of your Gown
For the Bride on her Wedding Day
Avoid eating, drinking or smoking near your gown before your wedding reception. Keep the cover on your dress until you are ready to put it on. If accidents do occur, it will be protected.
Do not use pens or felt-tip markers near your gown. Use pencils instead.
Ask those helping you with your gown to make sure they wash their hands free of hand cream and that they are not wearing any rings, bracelets or necklaces. Hand cream could stain your gown and jewellery will snag on fibres.
High heels should also be banished until the very last minute. We see numerous rips on gowns caused by sharp heels.
Avoid spraying on perfume and hairspray while in your gown - silk is very prone to staining by these two products. If you must, drape a cotton sheet (not towel if you have beading - this may cause snagging) over the gown while you are spraying.
Specify to the driver of your Wedding Car that any leather seats are cleaned with clear polish only. I have seen these seats cleaned with a coloured wax that subsequently rubs off onto the Wedding Gown.
If you are wearing diamante shoes, place a discreet strip of clear sellotape over the diamantes if possible as they often snag on dress hems. Beware that bouquets may also snag on light chiffons, especially if they include sharp netting.
Avoid spilling any alcohol or water on your dress, especially any cream-based liquer as this encourages mould growth and can cause permanent staining. Do not use salt on red wine stains as this fixes the stain. Dab with a clean white cotton towel dampened with water and leave to dry naturally. While a “baby wipe” will work on the day, it is very difficult to get a stain out properly after using wipes on it.
Fake tan & perspiration stain dresses – especially natural fibres such as silk and cotton. Some synthetic fibre dresses will not be stained. Beware of this if you wish to sell your dress.
If your dress is very creased hang it in a steamy bathroom for a few minutes. Do not hang from a metal hook or bar as water may condense on cold metal and drip onto your dress. Better again, ask your hotel to have a steam press available.
If you stain your gown with blood, lightly dab your saliva on it - the enzyme amylase in your saliva will break down the blood - do not rub.
Ask your dress maker to add a wrist-loop to the bottom of your gown so that you can hold it up easily when dancing.
After the celebrations, the gown often falls into a "black hole" - the newlyweds have left on their honeymoon and no-one may wish to take on the responsibility of getting it cleaned.
It must be remembered that the longer stains are left untreated the harder they are to clean. Try to allocate this responsibility before you depart on your honeymoon.
Remember that gowns can be more fragile than they appear – handle with extreme care. Do not touch any metal with bare hands as it is very susceptible to damage from even small amounts of perspiration. Wear cotton gloves if you have them.
Do not expose to any bright light, especially sunlight. Fading can occur at a remarkable rate. Also, do not store in plastic as this may cause discoloration and yellowing ; hang your dress on a large padded hanger in a cotton sheet or folded in an acid-free storage box with large wads of acid-free tissue paper cushioning the folds. Boxes are available from the Archival Box Company in Bray and acid-free tissue from K.M. Evans Ltd off Capel St. in Dublin.
Store in a clean, dry, dark place and check regularly for any signs of deterioration such as mould growth or moth holes. This is one of the reasons that wedding gowns should not be stored in "sealed" storage boxes - if something is going wrong it cannot be spotted. Do not store in the attic or hotpress. If storing in a wardrobe, choose one that is not against an external wall in order to reduce the risk of damp.
Wedding gowns should always be clean before being put into storage. A soiled textile attracts pests such as clothes moths and carpet beetles. If a gown has been worn, even though it may look spotless, it will need to be cleaned.
We do not recommend the use of pesticides to kill clothes moths or other insect pests as these can damage textiles. Good housekeeping will reduce the likelihood of pest attack.
How to Choose a Dry Cleaner
The best way to find a good Dry Cleaner is to ask friends for a recommendation. If you see many wedding gowns hanging in their shop window then they may have a good reputation for cleaning wedding gowns. Look at the workspace behind the counter - if its overcrowded and cluttered then it is unsafe. Look at how the cleaners handle the gown - the mark of a good dry cleaner is good handling practises. Are they wearing high heels? This is not acceptable as any person working with long gowns in delicate fabrics should be wearing flat shoes. High heels will catch and rip garments. Are they charging very low prices? This means they may be getting customers on price alone and not reputation. High value garments such as Wedding Gowns warrant investing in a professional dry cleaner. You may get lucky at a low price but you may not. Above all, trust your instinct, don't be afraid to walk away.
Examine the care label on the garment – the letter P in a circle means the dress can be dry cleaned with Perchloroethylene, which is commonly used in Ireland. An F in a circle means the dress can only be cleaned with Fluorocarbon, a chemical that is not used in Ireland. Your dress may have to be sent to the U.K. to be cleaned. Many American dresses will say “Do Not Dry Clean, Do Not Wash”, a legal disclaimer denying any responsibility for cleaning advice. It is best to avoid buying these dresses.
Ask the dry cleaner to test all the fabrics, dyes and attached embellishments for solubility in the dry cleaning fluid. Beads can be especially sensitive to dry cleaning solvents and can melt in the wrong solvent. A good dry cleaner should be able to wet-clean your gown if necessary - ask if they offer this service.
If you are not happy with the result, ask the dry cleaner to keep on trying to get the last few stains out but always err on the side of caution – a clean though stained dress is better than a damaged dress.
Most of all, you must enjoy your day to the full and remember that very few dresses come through the day untouched – afterall, it is the memories that count.