How to protect your dress from yellowing?

If the wedding gown of your dreams is a family bridal gown that time has yellowed and stained, call us! We specialise in restoring antique gowns and vintage bridal gowns to the true colour without damage to delicate fabrics or dyes. We remove stains and discolouration that ordinary dry cleaners cannot, and our restorations have been featured on television and in publications around the world.

It's important to keep your wedding gown in good condition before and also after the wedding if you're like most brides you've purchased your wedding gown months before the actual wedding date.

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 fumes that actually promote yellowing. But, even with proper care, some fabrics will yellow more than others, and it may be impossible to prevent all yellowing.

You have paid special attention to the care of your wedding gown with its alterations, steaming in preparation and storage until that important date. Storing the dress in a breathable cloth bag is best. A cloth gown bag will allow the fabric to breathe, allow any moisture to evaporate and will help keep wrinkles to a minimum.

Try not to store your wedding gown, either before or after the wedding in a plastic bag. Short term it doesn't matter as much, but long term plastic gives off fumes that can contribute to the yellowing of the fabric.

Plastic bags can also seal in moisture. Moisture can lead to mildew and moulds. A sealed plastic bag can also contribute to keeping wrinkles in your wedding gown too.

A plastic bag should be saved and used if the weather is bad or for short term transportation. The plastic can keep your wedding gown safe from the weather. It can also protect it from something being spilled on it.

Yellowing of your wedding gown is usually caused by either improper storage in the wrong container and or also by sugar stains.

Generally, silk fabric yellows more than synthetic fabrics, such as polyester, rayon and acetate. However, nylon, which is a synthetic, has a tendency to yellow more than other synthetic fabrics. Wedding gowns that can be wet cleaned have an advantage, and in that, if they do yellow, they may be able to be whitened for future use with a fabric whitener.

Wedding dress preservation in an acid-free, lignin-free environment and the dark is your best protection against yellowing.

  • Padding and wrapping your gown with acid-free tissue or cotton muslin will help to prevent acid migration.
  • Storing your clean wedding gown in an acid-free/lignin-free wedding dress preservation box or wedding gown preservation bag will be best in a dark, interior closet or under a bed.

Buffered tissue should be used for wrapping and filling wedding gowns made of synthetic fabrics such as polyester, rayon, and acetate. The buffering agents in the buffered tissue give added protection against acid migration. But buffering agents may damage gowns made of animal proteins such as silk or wool. Therefore un-buffered, acid-free tissue or muslin are recommended for silk fabrics.

Why do wedding dresses turn yellow?

Oxidation

Exposure to air and light causes oxidation, and when fabric oxidises, it turns yellow. Different types of fibres oxidise to varying rates of speed. For example, cotton discolours more quickly than other fibres, but over a long period of time, the different fibres may all oxidise to the same hue. As a result, a vintage wedding gown that appears yellow or even brown throughout may, when restored, turn out to be an ivory silk gown trimmed with white cotton lace. Still, other factors that yellow gowns are excessive heat in the attic where the vintage wedding gown was stored and fumes from the plastic bag or container in which the vintage wedding gown was stored. Dry cleaning does not remove oxidation, but our restoration process does, and we can return a vintage wedding gown to the true colour--whether it is white or ivory. Oxidation is not as evident in coloured fabric, but it, too, oxidises, and colours may also be restored.  

An oxidation spot can occur when a substance that was not properly cleaned on the dress oxidises and turns brown. This can happen even if your dress has been cleaned as dry-cleaning solvents do not remove all substances.

Spills from clear soda or wine and dried perspiration may go unnoticed at the time of the initial cleaning. Unless these substances are pre-treated, it is likely they will oxidise over time. Inspecting preserved wedding gowns periodically ensures the wedding dress remains in the best condition. The sooner an oxidised stain is caught, the more likely it will be able to be removed.

You Left Your Dress in Sunlight

For a few weeks after your wedding, you kept your dress on display for friends and family members to admire. After a while, you moved your gown to a more discreet location in your bedroom, but you left it on the display mannequin for your pleasure.

Unfortunately, blinding white fabrics are not a natural colour. To achieve that snowy look, manufacturers use white dyes when making their fabrics. When exposed to UV rays, the chemical bonds in fabric dye start to break down and fade, leaving wedding dresses with a yellow, cream, or off-white colour.

If you want your dress to last for generations, keep your dress out of direct sunlight, and put it in a back closet or basement. If you prefer to display your dress, ask a professional to construct a protective shadow box and install dim LED lights. Make sure the LED lights do not emit excess heat or UV rays that could damage the material.

Keeping your wedding dress covered and stored in a dark place will protect it from the damage caused by light and dust.

Caramelised Sugar Stains

Sugar stains are caused by anything that contacts the wedding gown that has any sugar-based or corn syrup-based products. These include cake, frostings, wine and sodas. Even though the stain may not be visible, it will later. These sugar stains oxidise over time and can cause yellowing or even brown spots on your wedding gown.

Brides who bring us yellowed and stained vintage wedding gowns. Often think the original bride spilled coffee on her wedding dress and that the wedding gown was never cleaned or the cleaner failed to remove the stains. These dark brown stains are actually caramelised sugar stains. Years ago--and even today--cleaners did not realise sugar does not dissolve in dry cleaning solvent. The wedding gowns they processed looked clean, but the sugar content in the stain was still there. The sugar content in these intrinsic stains turns yellow and eventually dark brown. Much like oxidation, dry cleaning does not remove caramelised sugar stains, but our restoration process does.

For more information on how to protect your dress from yellowing check out our blog.

Common Mistakes to Avoid When Preserving Your Wedding Dress 

Waiting too long

There are lots of reasons to preserve a wedding dress. "The majority of customers we serve plan to keep their wedding gown as an heirloom item to pass down to their children," says Jeff Schwegmann, president and owner of Happily Ever After, the exclusive gown preservation partner of Wedding Dress Preservation by a local shop near you. "We've seen a rise in repurposing gowns into other items such as veils, baby blankets, christening gowns and more." Even if you're unsure what you're going to do with your gown, preservation helps you keep your options open.

Remember that stains (even those you can't see at first) can set over time, so the longer you wait to have your gown cleaned and preserved, the more likely your dress will become discoloured permanently. Within three to four weeks after the wedding is an ideal time frame, says Schwegmann.

In fact, many brides research wedding dress preservation companies before the wedding, so they already have a plan in place, and all they have to do is send in or drop off the gown after the honeymoon.

Using someone who's a wedding gown cleaner but isn't a specialist.

Wedding dress preservation starts with a really good cleaning, but this isn't a task for just any ordinary dry cleaner. Make sure the cleaner is truly experienced and specialises in wedding gowns. A good pro will use multiple methods to clean different bridal gown fabrics and embellishments and can choose the right one for your dress.

Ask for recommendations and referrals and check reviews from other customers before committing.

Some bridal stores sell cleaning and preservation packages with the gown. It may appear to be a good deal, but you should research the provider before purchasing this package from the store.

Trying to treat stains yourself.

Got a little dirt on your gown at your outdoor ceremony? Resist the urge to try to get rid of the stain yourself.

Avoid home remedies for stain removal, since they may not work and could set the stain. The professional is going to determine the safest and most effective cleaning medium.

To give you peace of mind, Wedding Dress Preservation services allow customers to send photos of stains in advance so that they can evaluate them.

Storing the wedding dress improperly after the wedding.

It's okay not to rush your gown off to get preserved the day after the wedding—you're a busy newlywed. But you should neatly hang your dress in a safe place until you return from the honeymoon. You don't want to add to the stains and wrinkles by leaving it on the floor.

Many wedding dress preservation companies are mail order; you simply put your dress in a special mailing bag and have it shipped to them. If drinks were spilled on the gown, make sure they dry before you place it in the bag since that could worsen the stain as well.

Not storing a preserved gown correctly.

Once your wedding dress is preserved, you'll receive it in a handy box for safekeeping. Don't stash it in the basement or attic. The box should be in a temperature-controlled room (air-conditioned is best), out of direct sunlight, and away from dampness or humidity. Usually, a closet shelf or under the bed will do just fine. Preserved wedding dresses shouldn't be hung on a hanger since that could stretch the fabric over the years, especially if the gown is heavy.

The preservation box will be airtight and sealed for safekeeping, and if you open it, you risk discolouration due to oxygen exposure. Don't break the seal until you're ready to pass it down or repurpose it, or only if you're willing to have it preserved and sealed all over again.

When your wedding day is over consider the importance of your wedding gown cleaning and preservation. Choose a company to do this that has the experience and know-how to do the job right. They should specifically use an "anti-sugar treatment" and offer a long term guarantee.

We have a range of wedding dress preservation boxes for you to choose from.


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