Emergency Bridal Gown Cleaning and Care
Safety pins can save your day. Whether its a broken bustle loop, a torn strap or a broken zipper, there’s no substitute for safety pins. Bridal shops often pin a few near the hem inside your gown for just such emergencies, but if the shop does not, add them yourself. You can also ask your on-site wedding consultant or someone in the wedding party to bring a handful of them to the ceremony and reception. If you run out of safety pins, you can use sticky tape, double-sided fabric tape or even staples, but staples can leave nasty holes in the fabric of your gown.
Know the fiber of your wedding gown. Ask your consultant at the bridal shop about the fiber content of your gown or look at the care label in your wedding gown. Silk is a hollow fiber and so easily damaged it’s sometimes better to ignore a stain or hide the stain with something white. It’s much easier to get rid of a stain on artificial fiber such as polyester because, unlike silk, the stain is not absorbed by the fiber. You can use soap and water or baby wipes or even a volatile solvent such as cigarette lighter fluid without changing the texture of an artificial fiber.
In either case, artificial or natural fiber, unless the spill is truly major and makes you uncomfortable, it’s probably better leave the spot alone. If the spot is a water-soluble stain such as coffee, tea, or wine and you feel you must do something, put a towel behind the stain, and use another towel or other absorbent cloth to dab the spot gently with cool water or club soda. Do NOT rub hard or you will rub the finish away with the stain. If the stain is blood, your own saliva can be effective. Make-up, mascara, and lipstick are not water soluble and require a volatile dry solvent such as lighter fluid to dissolve them, but volatile dry solvents can also dissolve any dye that may have been used to color your gown. Always test whatever you are going to use on an inside seam where it will not show if you damage the fabric.
CAUTION: silks and rayons, particularly silk and rayon velvets, are water-sensitive, so you can easily turn stains into permanent water spots.
Hide spots with something white. Baking soda cornstarch, or baby powder are safe for any fiber and can sometimes hide spots. Some brides have used white-out or shoe polish, but it’s probably not a good idea to use those things unless your gown is polyester–too dangerous for use on silk. Again, better to leave the spot alone until you can get professional treatment for your wedding gown.
Remember, your friends and family are there to share your joy on your wedding day–not to look for spots on your gown!