How should your wedding gown be cleaned?
There are two types of cleaning methods: dry-cleaning and wet-cleaning.
Dry-cleaning really isn’t dry at all. Dry-cleaning refers to not using water for cleaning. It is cleaning with a petroleum solvent as the cleaning agent. The most common agent for dry-cleaning is perchloroethylene – “perc” for short. It is an excellent degreaser and can be used on all fabrics including silk, acetate, rayon and polyester. It can cause damage to some sequins and beads. It can melt the coating on some beads and melt the glue if the beads and sequins are glued onto the fabric.
Stoddard solvent is not as popular because it is more expensive and it has more regulations for it’s use – like it cannot be used in a facility in a strip mall. It is an excellent degreaser but has the added advantage that it will not harm beads or sequins.
Exxon DF-2000 is also a petroleum based solvent. It will not harm beads or sequins, but is not as good of a degreaser as Stoddard solvent. It does have fewer regulations so it is more popular for some dry-cleaning establishments.
Cleaning should be done with what is called “Virgin Solvent”. Virgin solvent is solvent that has been specially cleaned and filtered before each use. Many dry-cleaners use the same solvent over and over which means the solvent can retain residual oils and “dirt” which can be re-deposited on your dress. Dirty solvent will also leave a “dry-clean” smell on your dress.
Wet-cleaning, using water to clean your dress has several advantages. Water is best for removing any type of sugar stain, food stain or plain dirt on the hem. It is a poor degreaser, (but petroleum solvents cannot remove sugar or food stains.) Wet-cleaning also removes the sizing in fabrics (sizing is a starch like substance that is used to give “body” to the fabric by the manufacturer). Sizing in fabrics attract mice and insects. Proper wet-cleaning will not leave any odor in your gown.
The care label inside your wedding gown should indicate which method is recommended by the manufacturer.
Experience is the most important criteria to consider in selecting who should do your wedding gown cleaning and preservation. Asking questions is the most effective method to determine their experience. How long have they been in business? Do they specialize in wedding gowns, or only clean them once in awhile? Do they examine each dress individually or just place it in with all of their regular cleaning?