Can a yellowed wedding dress be whitened?

Can a yellowed wedding dress be whitened?

Most of the brides try to clean their yellowed wedding dresses gowns at home. They don't want to contact the professional cleaners to make the wedding gowns clean. The yellowish wedding dress looks very ugly and awkward. I must tell you that cleaning a delicate thing like a wedding dress yourself can be risky. 

Most brides want to preserve their dress as a keepsake, perhaps for their own daughter to wear on her wedding day. Experts in the cleaning industry recommend that you have the dress cleaned before storage.

The dress may have invisible stains from beverages, body oil, and food. If these stains are not properly cleaned, they may become permanent.

For a variety of reasons, unpreserved gowns can yellow with age. One of the leading causes of bridal gown yellowing is the plastic bags that many brides keep their gowns in. Most plastics give off damaging chemical fumes that actually promote yellowing and wedding gowns kept in plastic bags are exposed to the most harmful environment possible.

Some decorative trims yellow as their finishes oxidize. An ivory or ecru trim may lose its colour and no longer match the gown if a dye component is lost in cleaning. Colour failures of this type are due to the poor colour fastness of the dye, not because of improper cleaning. However, it is possible to clean yellowed wedding dresses gowns at home if you adopt proper cleaning techniques. 

Can all vintage wedding gowns be restored to their original beauty?

The biggest problem with the delicate fabrics comprising vintage wedding dresses (or any wedding dress for that matter) is the fact that the fabrics tend to yellow over time. Silk, satin, taffeta and other delicate wedding dress fabrics are all-natural elements that do not respond well to oxygen if left untreated for long periods of time. Along with fabric yellowing, the process of wedding dress preservation has taken very large leaps in recent years, which has made past preservation efforts obsolete. While most wedding gowns can indeed be brought back to their original beauty, it's best to send your gown in to be examined prior to having it restored.

Clean & Press

Before or After Wedding – Your dress will be cleaned, pressed, and packaged on a hanger. This service is best for resale, wearing again, donating, or if you're not sure what's next for your dress.

Your dress will be hand steamed and/or pressed to rid the dress of wrinkles and creases from manufacturing, sampling, alterations and shipping. This service should be performed before the big day to ensure that your dress looks as beautiful as it was brand new.

Bridal dresses represent a significant financial investment and many brides, and their families want to store and protect their dresses for future generations. We understand the importance of preserving and restoring your bridal dress. It's a major step that should not be taken without careful consideration. You can trust us to give your dress the very special care it deserves. Our cleaning processes are safe for all dress types, young and old. We start with a thorough inspection of your gown to determine the cleanability of your dress as well as the extent of the current damage (if any) from the wedding day. We look for loose threads, damaged or missing beading, holes and tears, and the level of soil your gown currently displays prior to cleaning.

Prior to beginning the cleaning process, all gowns are carefully inspected by a member of our team. A report is completed in order to determine what fabrics any given dress is made of, as well as how it is constructed.

Photographs of the dress can be taken so that at the conclusion of the cleaning and preservation process, we can confirm that every detail is still intact.


After Wedding – Your dress will be given an anti-sugar treatment to prevent caramelized sugar stains, cleaned, pressed, and packaged in a preservation chest for long term storage. This process protects the dress from oxidation and caramelized sugar stains, ensuring it's brilliance for years to come! It's best to store this completed preservation in a cool, dry environment absent light.

Restoring a Yellowed Wedding Dress

Before or After Wedding – It's a tragedy when a bride-to-be has dreamt of wearing her mother's or grandmother's wedding gown, only to find that it has yellowed with age or was boxed without proper cleaning and seems un-wearable. 

The dress is made of two parts, a shiny white satin dress and an embroidered cotton net overdress. The overdress was particularly dirty, as over the years it had acted as a barrier, keeping the satin dress relatively clean by comparison. In order for the dress to be displayed in a stable and aesthetically pleasing condition, it was determined that the two parts would be separated in order to wet clean the heavily soiled overdress.

The three deep ruffles of the skirt were increasingly dirty towards the hem. The discolouration from the original cream to 'yellowy-brown' is due to a combination of cellulose degradation and carbon soiling.

The dress was cleaned using conservation grade detergent, for a total of two and a half hours.

The dress was then rinsed for nearly four hours! Rinsing was carried out thoroughly. Any detergent residue left un-rinsed could increase the rate of future re-soiling.

Drying is a delicate process. The dress was dried using fans, and handheld dryers, while the front and back flounce of the skirt were gradually lifted in stages using an adjustable bar.

After lengthy yet very successful treatment, the overdress now resembles something much closer to its original condition when first worn in the mid-19th century.

Many lace veils are made from cotton, but some are made from silk. Silk lace veils are very fragile and likely to be discoloured. Silk veils should never be bleached and should, instead, be treated by a textile conservator, who may be able to improve their colour. Cotton lace veils also tend to yellow and discolour with age. Washing cotton lace is fairly straightforward, but the drying process is likely to cause problems.

The process of making lace creates tension within the fibres. This tension causes the lace to contract and distort as it dries. In theory, tension can be removed by ironing, but this is likely to damage antique lace. While high humidity, such as a steamy bathroom, can be used to 'relax' creases, this will not be enough for a shrunken and distorted veil. In this case, a textile conservator will be able to prevent distortion by pinning the lace to shape as it dries and also reduce or remove staining. Torn or fragile veils should not be darned but must be supported from behind with net fabric.

Stain Removal

The ideal treatment to lift a mark or stain is always selected by a certified and experienced professional. Delicate brushes are used to target the areas that are soiled, including hemlines and underarms. A steam gun may then be used to thoroughly cleanse the area without damaging the dress, before very gently "feathering out" the area with air.


Each gown is cleaned separately, and according to cleaning instructions on the care labels. We have many options in which to clean our gowns, Dry Cleaning, in either PERC or HYDROCARBON solvents, or using our expert wet cleaning methods.

Alterations & Repairs

We can take care of any minor mending, complete wedding gown resizing and modifying the dress styling. Our experienced seamstresses are trained in the care of everyday wear as well as top of the line, Couture labels! To look your absolute best in a wedding gown, you'll undoubtedly need some wedding gown alterations, especially if you have purchased your wedding dress online or from a consignment store. We are experienced in wedding dress fitting, repairs, and hand detail work such as Swarovski Crystals, beadwork, sequins, tissue silks, and other fine accompaniments, so you know your gown will be done right for your special day. Sparkle Cleaner's Vintage Dress Restoration Service is second to none. Our creative staff can modernize vintage gowns through re-construction, or re-styling so heirloom gowns can be worn for generations. Sparkle specializes in wedding dress care and alterations, as well as bridesmaids' dresses, flower girl dresses, quinceañera dresses, communion dresses, christening gowns, and mother of the bride dresses.

It is best to perform any altering or the adding of adornments prior to sending in your gown to be restored. Our cleaning process applies a protectant to your gown that will act as a protection layer against bodily oils and other stain-causing liquids that may come in contact with your gown on your wedding day. By having your gown fully restored after alteration, you're getting the assurance that you have a clean, vibrant, and protected vintage wedding gown to be worn on your wedding day.

What happens if my gown cannot be restored?

We can't speak for other services, but we offer a money-back guarantee if it is determined that your gown is too far aged or damaged to be restored. The good news is that this very very rarely happens and the exclusive SYSTEMK4 cleaning technology your gown is cleaned with can work wonders on restoring old gowns. After a thorough inspection of your gown by our cleaning and preservation specialists, we call you if we determine any issues that might come up during the restoration process before we proceed. 

What are the limits on bringing back a wedding dress?

While today's modern technology can work wonders on a vintage wedding gown, there are some extreme limitations on what can be restored. If your gown has suffered extreme fraying or has very brittle fabric that frays apart to the touch, it may be too far into the state of decay to be saved. It is best to let a wedding dress restoration expert first examine the gown to get a professional opinion on the condition of the fabric.

Reasons You Should Get Your Wedding Gown Restored Today

A wedding gown is probably the most important (and expensive) gown you'll ever own. Some women preserve their gown in hopes that it will be worn again, while others intend to use the fabric for christening gowns and keepsake pillows. Proper preservation for long-term storage is key to making sure your gown can be enjoyed by future generations.

We specialise in wedding dress dry cleaning to help restore your yellowed wedding dress.

To Remove Set-in Staining

Your wedding day was one of the most fun days you've ever had, but did you get out of it without a spill, a stain, or a mark on your gown? From your great grandmother's lipstick on your strap to your slightly shorter bridesmaid's makeup on the front where she hugged you, stains happen. Perhaps someone got a little too excited on the dance floor with a glass of red, and you subsequently dragged your train right through that spill while showing off your stellar dance moves.

Whatever it is, you probably have at least one or two stains on your wedding gown. It's not uncommon, but it's also not the end of the world. Stains can be specially treated, lightened, and even removed in many cases. If you've avoided preserving your wedding gown to this point because all the stains it incurred throughout the night, don't give up on your dreams. There's still a chance professional restoration can handle even the toughest stains, creating a wedding dress that appears brand-new and perfect.

MyDressBox is are wedding dress cleaning and preservation specialists servicing all major cities in Australia and New Zealand, including MelbourneSydneyPerthBrisbaneAdelaideCanberraHobartGold CoastNewcastleSunshine CoastWollongongGeelong and many more.

To Turn Back Time and Restore Your Gown to its Original Beauty

Time is a thief, and perhaps the most devious thief of all. It goes by so quickly, and you never get it back. The art of wedding dress restoration changes that fact, however. With our amazing wedding dress restoration service, we can turn back the hands of time to provide your wedding dress with a chance at its full glory once again. A gown that's yellowed after being stored inadequately for decades can be painstakingly restored to its former glory, and you can see it in all its glory once again.

This is a lovely opportunity for anyone with a sentimental gown that's old, delicate, and seemingly destroyed. The hands of time take a toll on fabric, but our team of restoration artists can reverse the signs of aging on virtually any fabric of any age. Your great grandmother's wedding dress from the 1800s isn't the loss you think it might be. There's a chance it can be restored and preserved for you for generations to come.

For more information on keeping your beautiful gown from yellowing check out our blog.

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1 comment

Thank you! Very informative and helpful.

Carole Stone Carson

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