True or False: Five Myths About Wedding Gown Cleaning and Wedding Gown Preservation

1. The instructions on the care label inside your wedding gown tell you the best way to clean your wedding gown.  Not true. The label’s directions for wedding gown care may not be the only way—or even the best way—to clean a wedding gown. The care label simply means that if a cleaner follows the instructions, and your wedding gown is damaged by the cleaning process, then the manufacturer is liable for the damage. That’s why you will sometimes see instructions such as “Do not dryclean. Do not wetclean. Spot clean only.” This language absolutely protects the manufacturer from any liability because the manufacturer is essentially telling you that the wedding gown cannot be cleaned. However, if you can find an experienced cleaner who specializes in wedding gowns, a Specialist, such as Jeeves Dry Cleaners, will know how to clean your gown successfully.

2. Blue tissue should be used to package your wedding gown.  Not true. There is usually a little truth in an old wives’ tale, and we know, for example, that an apple a day really is good for us. But blue tissue paper is NOT good for wedding gowns, and no one really knows why it was supposed to be good for wrapping wedding gowns. It may have something to do with bluing. There is a written reference to bluing as early as the seventeenth century, and bluing comes from indigo, a naturally alkaline substance that can neutralize any acidic content that might cause yellowing. Bluing also adds a trace of blue dye to fabric, which, again, offsets any yellowish cast in white fabric. In the 1920s and 1930s, wedding gowns were often wrapped in a deep blue paper, but the paper was waxed, and the wax prevented the acidic content of the paper from damaging the gown.

Whatever the history behind this idea, blue tissue is absolutely the wrong thing to use for preserving your wedding gown. Blue tissue is not acid-free and, worse yet, the paper will, if it gets wet, dye your wedding dress blue. Only white, completely acid-free (means all acidic content was removed and not just neutralized) tissue and completely acid-free wedding chests should be used for your wedding gown preservation .

3. Your wedding gown should always be sealed in plastic. Not true. Most textile conservators warn against storing fabrics in plastic or plastic-wrapped containers because plastic traps moisture that can allow mildew to grow. Desiccants are sometimes added to plastic-wrapped containers to absorb the moisture, but they have a very limited capacity and must then be replaced—which, of course, destroys the seal on the package. Then, too, unless the plastic is chemically inert, it can emit fumes that yellow your gown. That’s why your gown should never be stored in a plastic garment bag. Still another problem with plastic: plastic sets up an electrostatic charge that, together with the trapped moisture, can permanently set wrinkles in your wedding gown that no amount of pressing can remove.

4. Taking your wedding gown out of the wedding chest will damage your gown. Not true. Be very wary of preservation services that void their guarantees if the seal is broken. There is no inherent reason why your gown cannot be taken out of the container for inspection, and the service may just be hiding problems such as leftover stains or damage from the cleaning process. On the other hand, it really is not necessary to take your gown out of the container and refold it on a regular basis. If your gown has been packed properly, the folds of your gown are buffered with tissue that prevents sharp creases, and it is a law that if something can happen it will. In other words, every time you handle a precious object such as your wedding gown, there is the potential for danger, and the day your gown is removed from the container is the day the roof leaks or it rubs against a dirty wall. If you do choose to take your wedding gown out of the chest, be very sure your gown is opened in an area that is safe from such hazards—and safe from pets or small children, too. Also, wear white cotton gloves so the oils in your skin do not transfer to your gown.

5. All guarantees are the same. Not true. All guarantees are definitely not the same. If you read carefully, you will find most guarantees simply refund the cost of wedding gown cleaning and wedding gown preservation—even if the service damages your wedding gown during the process. Look for a service that stands behind the work regardless of the cost of the wedding gown and ask who is going to stand behind the guarantee–now or twenty-five years from now!