Thursday, October 22, 2009

The DIY Wedding Gown Cleaning

Wedding dress: $400 in materials
Dress cleaning: $200?!!!

Call me cheap but I can't justify spending half as much to clean a dress as I spent to make it. I know exactly what the dress is made of since I spent the last 2 months becoming quite familiar with the fabric and notions. The dry cleaning business is no better than every other wedding vendor out there. The second you say "wedding", the cost of the service just tripled (or more).

Surely, there must be some guidelines for the DIY'ers, I thought. I love the internet. Thank you Heritage Garment Preservation for posting some good guidelines.

The complete guidelines and suggestions can be found here: DIY Bridal Gown Cleaning

I will only include the steps I did.


  • new baby/soft toothbrush
  • liquid Dawn dish detergent
  • spray bottle
  • 1 or 2 clean towels
  • drying rack (not wood)
  • bathroom with tub

Spot Cleaning

  • Mix up warm water and Dawn soap in the sink and a little in a spray bottle.
  • Check the outside and inside of the hem of your dress (all layers) for stains. All my stains were dirt so a little light brushing or massaging with the toothbrush and sudsy water easily removed the dirt. You may need Oxy Clean or Carbona Stain Devils for grass stains, etc. You can also soak the hem before spot cleaning.
  • Blot any wet spots (where you removed stains) with a clean towel.
  • Check the full length of the skirt for stains requiring spot treatment. (I had none!!)
  • Check the outside of the bodice for stains requiring spot treatment.

Cleaning the Lining

  • Turn the dress inside out and hang on hanger on shower curtain rod.
  • Spray the sudsy water mix on the bodice and massage the toothbrush on areas where there may be sweat. I was roasting in my dress and nervous as hell so I sweat through the entire bodice. It took quite awhile but I scrubbed every inch of that bodice.
  • Spray the sudsy water mix on the skirt lining(s).


  • Fill the tub with warm water.
  • Put your dress completely into the water. I only soaked the bodice of my dress, however. My outer skirt fabric (poly satin) was underlined in a poly organza. Organza that gets wet may lose some of its crispness when it dries so I only spot-cleaned the outer skirt.
  • Gently swish the dress in the water to remove soap from the material.
  • Drain tub and repeat rinse at least 2 more times.


  • Set up the drying rack in the tub and drape a towel over the rack to protect the fabric from snags.
  • Drape dress over rack with the dress weight distributed evenly. Only the top of my dress was wet so I let it hang down off the end of the drying rack. The weight of the skirt held it in place on the rack.
  • After drip drying for several hours, you may hang the dress to finish drying if most of the water is gone.
  • Smooth out the fabric to lessen wrinkling. Spread the skirt layers apart to allow for better drying.


  • Wash and dry the ironing board cover before pressing your gown.
  • Spread a clean sheet on the floor, covering your work area to protect the lengths of the skirt draping on the floor as you iron.
  • Start with a low heat first.
  • Press fabric inside out and use a press cloth or piece of organza.
  • Place a towel under the bodice when pressing. The towel will protect the lace and/or sequins/beads.
  • Don't leave the iron in one spot for long.
  • Dress hems generally aren't pressed flat. Just get the wrinkles out of the fabric and finger press the hem to get an uniform look but not perfectly pressed.

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