Why you should NEVER dry clean your wedding dress (or any wedding garments) right before your wedding

Guest post by Shannon Davis
dry cleaning wedding garments on Offbeat Bride
Photo by Wild About You Photography

I have worked in a hotel laundry for the last six years. I have received basic training in dry cleaning — enough to deal with our hotel's uniforms and basic garments. In the last six years, on a regular basis, I have watched countless brides and grooms send down their wedding garments to be cleaned, often at the last minute.

I have also seen more disasters concerning people's clothes than I care to remember.

Here's my insight and advice about when to dry clean your wedding dress and the hazards involved in getting your wedding clothes dry cleaned or pressed at the last minute…

After working in my job for six years I can say that unplanned accidents do happen…

What happens if you send your wedding finery down the morning of you wedding to be dry cleaned and the machine breaks down and your clothes are stuck inside the machine for an unforeseeable amount of time? I have seen that happen with someone's bridesmaid dresses. Thankfully they were getting them cleaned the week before the wedding, so that wasn't a major disaster.

What if a pen somehow ends up inside the dry cleaning machine? Pens, that go through the machine cycles, leak all over the garments more often than not.

Or what happens if your dress has gorgeous material flowers attached to it but the person who made the dress used glue to help attach the flowers so they wouldn't fall off… and the glue melts all over the dress? These are things I have seen happen.

If you are only sending your garments down to be pressed…

While pressing isn't as much of a potential disaster as same-day cleaning could be, I have seen irons malfunction and burn holes into shirts in places where a fix would be noticeable. I have seen dresses catch on the machines and (best case scenario) snag or (worst case scenario) rip. I have seen the pressing machines malfunction and leave large brown dirty water stains on gowns.

Wedding dresses are a specialized garment…

Not everyone who works in the laundry will be trained in how to deal with them. What if the professional dry cleaner is away, sick, or you catch them on their day off? Chances are 50/50 that you will find someone working that day who has been trained in how to clean/press your specialized garments.

If you need a touch up right before the wedding…

To remove creases from your clothes, use a spray bottle with water and a hair dryer on the lowest setting to gently buff the creases out.

This is just one possible solution to last minute cleaning/pressing. Definitely consider your options in advance of your wedding date, so you don't end up with rogue pen-stained dress.

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Comments on Why you should NEVER dry clean your wedding dress (or any wedding garments) right before your wedding

  1. I almost had a panic attack when I saw this title. I just had my dress professionally cleaned after my alterations. It was a sample and needed cleaning. Then I read further into the article. Definitely get it cleaned before the wedding and not in a hotel or cruise ship.

  2. To get rid of wrinkles, use water mixed with fabric softener – no need to heat dry or use a hair dryer on it. Just hang it up.

    Great advice! I’d certainly never thought about these things happening!

    • Kristina,

      Don’t panic. Just allow extra time for this. Ideally, you should get the garments cleaned a week or more in advance just to play it safe. And if you are needing your garment pressed just before your wedding, phone around and ask if the professional dry cleaner is on shift and able to attend to your garment promptly.

  3. Thank you for this. I’ve been wondering when I should take the dress in to get spruced up!

  4. Just a note of caution regarding the spritzing with water and whatever – don’t do this on silk! Most often, silk for wedding gowns has not been pre-washed. At best, you will change the texture of the silk resulting in a somewhat noticeable mark, at worst silk will spot terribly noticeably and you will be sad. I’ve been sewing for 40 years, and this is the sad result of experience. When I sew with silk, which is often, I always always always pre-wash. Think of it as sort of a giant pre-sewing water spot on the entire gown, there after, no worries 🙂 Happy weddings all!!!

  5. I didn’t even dry clean my wedding dress AFTER the wedding, once I got price quotes. They were ridiculously high! Instead, I researched the fabric type, discovered that I could wash it in water, and washed it myself. I cleaned the train with a toothbrush and although it took me hours, it looks fabulous.

    • I’m glad you did research into the fabric and cleaning options before washing it yourself. Washing a wedding dress yourself is often not an good idea as some fabrics tend to shrink when wet (sometimes in unfortunate ways). Awareness and diligent research are key things to think about when considering getting your garments cleaned.

  6. Also, from my long experience working in the hotel industry, a LOT of hotels that offer dry cleaning service actually don’t do it on site, but send it out to a third party drycleaning shop. So even if your dress isn’t particularly delicate, the quality of the service can be iffy and garments are frequently misplaced, mis-delivered, or delayed. I’ve never seen anything get completely lost, but they do get held up, so if you’re crunched for time I wouldn’t risk it!

  7. One thing I forgot to mention when I originally wrote this, was that there are some gowns that CANNOT be dry cleaned (except at certain places that specialise in formal wear) because of the beading, lace or sequence that may be attached to the gown.

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