How to Wash a Wedding Dress


A wedding dress is a big investment that you may only use once in your lifetime. However, you may pass it on to the next generation. It is therefore important to clean your wedding dress properly to ensure it stores well and stays in tiptop shape for future use. The usual process of cleaning a wedding dress is to dry clean it, since most wedding dresses are made of materials that may not be suitable for washing.

With so many cleaning agents to choose from, a wedding dress made of certain materials including polyester can usually be washed with water. Washing a wedding dress may not only save you a lot of money, but you are assured that it's been cleaned properly since you did it yourself.

Things You'll Need

  • Clean bathtub
  • Water
  • Colorless sponge
  • Mild bleach
  • Mild detergent
  • Examine your wedding dress meticulously. Check to see if there are stains, particularly on the train and hemline areas. It is common for the train to get dirty because it is usually dragged on the floor. Once you know the kind of stain or dirt that your wedding dress has, you can prepare the cleaning materials that you will need.

  • Delete any embellishment or removable items from your wedding dress such as bows, ribbons or belts. You can wash these separately. Taking off these items from your wedding dress makes the dress easier and safer to clean.

  • Fill a clean bathtub with warm water and soap. The soap should be foamy enough to wash away the dirt and stains. Soak the train and hem in the water for at least 30 minutes. Depending on the material, you can gently scrub or wipe the dirt off by using a sponge and a mild detergent. Do not scrub delicate materials such as lace.

    Pay extra attention when you wipe the trim or lace on the dress. Putting too much pressure may ruin delicate fabrics. You can also use your fingertips to gently rub the stains off. Continue wiping off the dirt on the inside of the hemline, layers and lining. When these areas are clean enough, rinse them thoroughly.

  • Wash the bodice of your wedding dress by turning it inside out. The bodice is the upper part of your wedding dress where underarm stains and dirt marks are found. Again, gently wipe the stains off using a sponge and mild detergent. If the stains are not easily removed by the detergent, use mild bleach such as Oxi Clean. Mild bleach will not leave any discoloration on the dress. Soak the stained area in Oxi Clean following the product directions until the stains disappear.

  • Remove the dirty water and replace it with clean water. Carefully immerse the wedding dress into the water. Rinse the soap suds off the dress by swishing it around. Repeat the whole process three times until no more soap suds can be seen.

  • Take the dress carefully out of the bathtub when it is thoroughly clean. Do not wring, twist or squeeze the dress. Let it drip for a while and then hang it on a drying rack. Make sure that the dress is evenly spread out so it will retain its form. Allow it to completely dry before pressing and storing it.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the bodice of your wedding dress can be detached from the skirt, wash the pieces separately.
  • The longer the stains have to set, the harder it could be to get them out.
  • Look at the label of your wedding dress before making any attempts to hand wash it. Fabrics and linings made of polyester are safe for hand washing.

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  • Photo Credit wedding dress image by Mat Hayward from
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