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One Hour Cleaners
Peru's Quality Drycleaners since 1958
Quality Drycleaning, Wetcleaning and Shirt Service
52 W. Third Peru, IN
765-473-971
7

Our Hours
Open 7 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon Saturday

 

What to do with the Wedding Gown after the Wedding, a portion of which appeared in the Peru Tribune in August 2007.

Typically the summer months are the months of the year that there are the most weddings. While there are several issues that surround a new wedding, this article will address what to do with the wedding gown after the wedding.

Most brides after the wedding was to "preserve" their wedding gown. This article will point out some of the do's and don't's of what to do with your wedding gown after the wedding. Some times, the bride may think that storing it long term in that "white plastic bag" is a good thing. It isn't. Cloth needs to breath and those plastic bags can give off acids which will effect both the cloth and the dyes. You say dyes, it is white... Yes but even white is treated with fluorescent brighteners, etc. And those finishes can break down when exposed to sunlight and to acidic conditions. 

Based upon the current knowledge we have, the best possible solution is for the wedding gown to be cleaned by your professional drycleaner as soon after the wedding. Why? Spots and stains become more permanent as time goes on. There are typically four kinds of stains that  a wedding gown will receive. The first is just plain old dirt, from the gown "dragging" on the ground. This is usually at the hemline. This sort of stain may require more than one cleaning by the drycleaner for removal and sometimes, the gown is so  badly soiled that faint traces may still be on the underside of the gown. The second type of stain is the sugar stain. Most beverages contain sugar. The spot or stain may appear invisible but upon the application of heat or just time, these stains will turn an ugly brown. Think about when you take a bite of an apple and sit it down for a bit, the apple soon turns brown. Why is that? It is because the sugars in the apple have started to caramelize. The same thing happens when you spill beverages containing sugar onto your garments. When I was a small child growing up in the 1960's during the Cold War, one of the "games" that I would play with little brother was "spy", and we would write messages in invisible ink. The ink was lemon juice and in order to read the message, you would hold the paper up to a light bulb (heat) or run your mom's good iron over the page. And immediately what appeared to be invisible would become visible. The same thing happens with sugar stains from beverages (and food). It is important these are removed soon after the wedding before they turn brown.

The third type of stain is oil. Tests conducted by the International Fabricare Institute showed that stains became increasingly more difficult to remove after about 3 weeks. The test showed that oil stains oxidized and that sugar stains caramelized.  You might say, how does a bride get an oil stain  on a wedding dress? These could be oils from the body, from makeup and hair products and from of course certain foods that may come in contact with the dress (gravy for example). The fourth kind of typical stain that the wedding dress is exposed to is that of what we will call body stains, which the most typical example would be perspiration. We can all laugh, but many times a bride is just a bit nervous about the wedding, that all will go o.k., etc. and folks sweat! Each of these sorts of stains are in  difficult sorts of categories. The hemline soil is what is known as insoluble stain. The sugar stains which turn brown are what is called tannin or acidic stains (comes from the ground, that is from plants, etc.). The oily stains are solvent soluble stains and the perspiration falls into what is known as protein stains (comes from the body). Each require different methods to remove.

So by having the gown cleaned shortly after the wedding, the success rate to remove the stains greatly increase. After the gown is cleaned, the consumer basically has two viable options for storage of the gown. Most cleaners offer a boxing service where the gown is put into a box. The other method is in a special breathable bag or wrapping the gown in unbleached and untreated muslin cloth. The most popular is the "box" so we will talk a moment about that.

There are basically two kinds of cardboard boxes, those that are acid neutral/acid free and those that are not. Let us remember that cardboard comes from wood pulp which is a cellulose product which since it comes from the ground, it is acidic by nature and garments coming into long term contact with such a box, can be damaged. So ask your drycleaner about the box as you want an acid free or acid neutral box with tissue paper that is also acid neutral.

Now what about those who advertise injecting nitrogen into the box or vacuum packing the dress (that is removing all the air and sucking that big old dress into something much smaller. There is no proven results that either do much good. Actually I saw a dress that was vacuum packed and the wrinkles had become permanent. Now some brides want to put all sorts of things in the box with their gown. Typically this is not recommended. Definitely items that would attract insects and rodents (like the wedding rice) should never be stored in the box. Even flowers should not be for they could discolor onto the gown.

The boxed dress should not be stored in an attic or in a basement or in a closet on the outer wall. The reason is simple, the exposure to high humidity or extreme temperatures is not good. Many find storing it under the bed is a good place. Brides many times save their dress for their daughter and so the wedding dress should be looked at every few years to see if there is any noticeable spotting or staining occurring, which might require recleaning.

If the dress however in the box ever does get wet (leaky roof, plumbing problem, flood, etc.), the gown should immediately be taken to the drycleaner for recleaning etc. You do not want mold and mildew to form on the dress which can weaken the fibers besides discoloring them.

Now about the trims (beads/sequins) on the gown. Some are glued on and some are sewed on. Those that are glued on can become loose if the glue is soluble to the cleaning solution, and over time the glue can go from being clear to taking on a brown color. So obviously sewed on sequins and beads are better. But you must be aware that some beads and sequins over time can like tarnish and even give off color that will effect the surrounding garment area. I have seen dresses that were boxed (and not boxed) from the 1970's where the beads have "tarnished" and even grayed the area of cloth by the beads (the beadwork gives off gases which effect the cloth). This is simply part of the aging process and it can not be prevented.

What about storing the wedding gown in a cedar chest? Problem there is direct contact with the wood which is acidic in nature. When I was at wedding gown cleaning school we took a gown that had been stored in a cedar chest in a hot attic for nearly 100 years and cleaned it and it came out just beautiful. We also have to remember than "bright" white was not always the color of gowns and so many older gowns will be ivory in color and they could have been that way originally. Also in the 19th century, the wedding gown was typically a dress that designed that could be worn often after the wedding for special events, not a one time wear.

So based upon current knowledge of what is best for long term storage of a wedding gown, the tips are get the gown cleaned as soon as possible after the wedding. Some drycleaners process the gowns onsite and others send them out to a wholesaler. Have it boxed in an acid neutral or acid free box with acid neutral tissue paper. Store the gown not in a basement or hot attic or in a closet on the outside wall. Inspect the gown every few years as it may need to be cleaned and boxed again. Do not be surprised that over time the whiteness may fade due to break down of the brighteners and finishes applied to it and that beadwork can "tarnish". But by following these simple principles, you have followed the best approach for long term storage of the wedding gown.

Chris Birk CED/CPD/CPW, is a staff member of One Hour Cleaners, and is a graduate of the International Fabricare Institute's Wedding Gown Cleaning school.  One Hour Cleaners have been cleaning wedding gowns since 1958 and was the first area cleaners to start boxing gowns.

 

 

One Hour Cleaners
52 W. Third Peru, IN
    765-473-971
7

Our Hours
Open 7 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon Saturday

We accept MasterCard, Visa and Discover

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