Cleaning Guides

How to Clean Your Wedding Dress

Your wedding day is one of the biggest days of your life, and the wedding dress plays a huge part of your special day. Some women like to hold onto their wedding dress, simply for the memories or fondly thinking they will someday pass it on to their daughter, whilst others may want to sell their dress for some extra cash. On your big day, your dress may have become marked or stained from make-up or drink and food spillages, and whether you want to keep, sell or pass on your dress, you’ll want to clean off those stains to make sure it looks its best.

So, if you

  • want to know how to clean your wedding dress;
  • want to remove stains from the dress;
  • want to preserve your wedding dress in perfect condition…

then read on!

How to clean a wedding dress at home

When it comes to tackling those wedding dress stains at home, you’ll want to be armed with the knowledge to make sure you get the best results and cause minimal damage to your dress. From taking care of the stains and handwashing your dress to storing it away and preserving its condition, have a read of our top hints and tips.

Take care of the stains

Removing stains is the best place to start when it comes to getting your dress back to its best. If your dress picked up any stains on the big day, don’t worry, with these tips you’ll soon get your dress looking great again. Here’s our easy steps to wedding dress stain removal:

  1. Inspect the dress:

    Take a look at the hemline – check the dress train for stains – they can act like large cleaning mops on the big day if not kept off the floor! Check each layer on the dress to see if stains have worked their way through.

  2. Inspect the stain:

    Try and establish if the stain is oil or water based. If the stain is oil based, it’ll need soaking in hot water first.

  3. Apply the stain remover:

    Be sure to test it on a small area first, where no one will see it. Using a quality stain remover shouldn’t cause any fabric reactions, but it’s best to be cautious. 

  4. Separate the layers:

    Once you’ve applied the stain remover, try and separate the layers – inserting paper towels between them so the stain doesn’t transfer to another layer of the dress. 

  5. Pat the stain:

    Don’t rub at the stain; pat the stain out with a wet towel and gently push away from the stain. Rubbing at the stain will cause pilling and may cause it to tear.

  6. Dry your dress:

    Use a hair dryer to dry the water off the dress. Leaving it to air dry may cause water stains.

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How to hand wash your wedding dress

Now you’ve treated the stains, you can freshen it up by handwashing your wedding dress. Wedding dresses often feature fragile embellishments and stitching, so it’s best to avoid a washing machine. To handwash your dress, you’ll need:

  • A bath
  • Toothbrush
  • Stain remover
  • Gentle liquid detergent (non-bio)

And here’s how it’s done:

  1. Thoroughly clean out the bath to prevent any residue transferring onto your white dress.
  2. Fill the bath with warm (but not hot) water and mix in stain remover and non-bio liquid detergent. Give it a stir around.
  3. Place the dress in the water and leave it to soak.
  4. Use a toothbrush to gently massage the detergent into the dress – pay particular attention to the train and armpit areas. Remember not to scrub too hard, as you may damage the fabric.
  5. Empty the bath water, then repeat the process until the water runs clear.
  6. Leave the dress to dry by line-drying it over a clothes horse. Make sure the weight is evenly distributed and have a towel underneath to catch any drips. It’s best to avoid hanging the dress with a coat hanger as it could cause the dress to stretch and tear due to the added water weight.
  7. Now the majority of water has dried and dripped away, pop your dress on a hanger to finish the drying.

Use a washing machine

There are often differing views when it comes to washing your wedding dress in a washing machine. If you’re short on time and skills, a washing machine might be your preferred option, but many shy away from it as it can be a little risky; opting for a handwash or professional laundry service instead.

If you’re still set on using a washing machine for your wedding dress cleaning, there are a few things you should be aware of first. Here are the main things to bear in mind:

  • Check the fabric: If your wedding dress is heavily embellished and detailed, it’s best to avoid using the machine. Lace features could potentially tear, and tulle ball gowns probably won’t fit in a domestic washing machine.
  • Remove any buttons or embellishments or sashes if possible: This will prevent them catching when inside the washing machine.
  • Shrinkage: Some fabrics may shrink in the wash – so if your dress is made from silk, chiffon or charmeuse it’s best to steer clear of popping it in the washing machine. 
  • Spot clean stains: Even if you’re using a washing machine, it’s best to spot clean any stains beforehand, using stain remover and water. But remember – blot the stain, never rub.
  • Wash on cold: If you still want to use the washing machine, despite added embellishments and delicate fabric, it’s advised that you wash on cold. Even though you’ll want your white dress to come out as fresh as possible, it’s best to use a non-bio – it doesn’t contain bleach so will be gentler on the fabric. 
  • Wash gently: Make sure you put your dress on a gentle cycle and avoid spinning it dry. 
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How to store a wedding dress

Once you’ve treated the stains, washed your wedding dress and left it to dry, it’s time to store your dress away. But it’s not as simple as popping on a hanger and leaving in a wardrobe; here are the steps you can take to make sure your dress is kept in good condition:

  • Make sure you store faux jewels or metal buttons and headbands separately from your dress – they could accidently tarnish the dress fabric over time. 
  • To preserve the fabric, wedding dresses should be stored flat, in containers big enough to lay the dress without folding it over. Dresses that are left on hangers can become misshapen and develop rips due to the stress on seams. 
  • Make sure the container you use is made specifically for storage – don’t just use a standard cardboard box. If you can’t find a cardboard box big enough, opt for a plastic polypropylene box that won’t cause yellowing.
  • If you can’t find a storage container big enough, make sure you stuff sleeves and protect folds with archival tissue paper. Use plenty of tissue to cushion each fold to prevent heavy creasing. And treat the veil in the same way – reinforcing folds with archival tissue paper.
  • Store your box/container in a cool, dark and dry environment. Avoid extreme temperatures like hot attics or cold garages. The ideal storing place is an interior space away from exterior walls that may become damp or pipes that have potential to burst. Be sure to keep it away from pets too.

Useful tips for wedding dress preparation

In order to preserve your dress in the best possible condition, follow these simple tips:

  • Whether you handwash or machine wash your wedding dress, always make sure you avoid the tumble dryer. A tumble dryer will shrink the fabric and the heat will damage delicate fabric.
  • Do not hang the dress for a long period of time. Hangers will place stress on delicate fabric, causing it to tear.
  • If you have metal studs on sashes or veils, store them away separately if possible – it’ll help prevent corrosion transferring onto the dress
  • When using archival tissue paper to prevent harsh creases forming, make sure the paper is acid-free to prevent the fabric yellowing.

Laundry and dry cleaning

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Choose professional cleaning for perfect results

From spot cleaning stains to washing and drying the dress – you’ll need to set aside a fair few hours to clean your wedding dress. If you don’t have the time or you’re not confident of your cleaning skills, why not get the professionals to do it for you? At we have a dry-cleaning service that will clean your wedding dress for you. We’ll pick up your wedding dress, treat any stains, dry clean it and steam out any creases. Just choose a day that suits you and we’ll pick up your dress, clean it up and then drop it back to you. Simple!


  • Never rub at stains – you’ll damage fabric. Always spot clean.
  • If you’re going down the washing machine route – wash on cold to be on the safe side
  • Make sure you set out enough time – cleaning and drying a dress isn’t a 10-minute job!


Do you have any tips for cleaning a wedding dress? Let us know in the comments.

Image Source: Shutterstock / Dmytro Buianskyi

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