The first task in wedding gown preservation is having the wedding dress cleaned. Educate yourself on the available wedding dress cleaning options to decide which is best for your gown before it goes in your closet or under your bed for the next how-many years.
Wholesale Wedding Dress Cleaning
Wholesale wedding dress cleaning is a mass production that often cleans as many as 30 gowns at once. Pre-treating and spotting are usually not part of the cleaning process, and the dirt from other gowns could stain yours. The gown is also sealed in a small box, meaning you may never know how thoroughly or not it was cleaned.
Wet Wedding Dress Cleaning
Wet-cleaning is a method some dry cleaners use to remove stains from wedding dresses. It uses water (no surprise there), and is a fantastic method for removing sugar spills and most other food stains. It also works wonders on dirty hems. A well-rinsed dress is free of chemical cleaners, which helps preserve the gown. Water cleaning also removes fabric sizing, a starch-like substance used during manufacturing to protect the gown. This starch is attractive to mice and insects, so removing it is an ideal part of preservation.
Dry cleaning regulation is a common state practice due to the health and environmental issues stemming from solvent use. Perchlorethylene, or perc, is the most common dry cleaning solvent. It is also the solvent many states are limiting the use of, if not eradicating it completely. Unfortunately, it is still the best solvent for removing grease and other dirt. Perc is ideal for dresses made of silk, acetate, or rayon, however it can cause serious damage to sequins and beds. It may also melt glue if beadwork or sequins were attached with the stuff.
Other dry cleaning solvents include the petroleum-based solvent Exxon DF-2000, or hydro-carbon. It is not as effective in regards to de-greasing, but it's a lot easier on beading and other gown embellishments. Greenearth is another option, and easily the most environmentally-friendly. However, it is not super-great at de-greasing. Like its hydro-carbon cousin, it is safe for use on beadwork and the like.
Ask plenty of questions when selecting a cleaning method by your local dry cleaner or preservation service. Remember, a dress cleaned with new solvent will not smell like solvent. Virgin solvent is what you want. Inquire if the service performs wet-cleaning as well before making your final decision. Good luck!