wedding dress cleaningWhen all the hoopla of the big day is over and done with, it’s so easy to forget about your wedding dress. After all, it’s not like you’re actually going to wear it again. However, if you plan on preserving it for your daughter one day or making a few bucks by selling it to another bride-to-be, you’ve got to take action and now. More specifically, you’ll want to avoid falling victim to these all too common post-wedding dress mistakes. You can thank us later.

Mistake #1: Procrastinating on the whole cleaning thing
The reality is, cleaning and properly preserving your wedding dress isn’t always a top priority once you return to real life, says Malinda Macari, owner of Your Dream Bridal in Sudbury, MA. But wait too long, and stubborn stains, particularly the ones you can’t see (more on that below), can really ruin your gown’s shot at a second life. “Body perspiration can eventually cause the lining to turn brittle, while noticeable food and makeup stains may become permanent if left to rest too long.” The best thing to do is to get your dress cleaned and preserved ideally within a month after your wedding, she advises.

Mistake #2: Thinking you can clean it yourself
Brides often try using club soda to remove stains, which can be beneficial, however, it will leave rings on silk and won’t get out greasy spots like lipstick, cautions Sally Conant, Executive Director of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists. “On water-sensitive fabrics, such as silk and rayon, it can even leave permanent marks! Worse yet, if you rub too hard, especially if the gown is satin, you can rub away the finish.”

Mistake #3: Not investing in a good dry cleaner
Do yourself a solid, and only take your dress to a reputable dry cleaner that specializes in preserving wedding gowns. “Some cleaners don’t realize spills containing sugar, like white wine and ginger ale, can dry clear and won’t automatically dissolve in dry cleaning,” informs Conant. “Over time, these stains will turn dark brown as the sugar caramelizes.” Eek, not good!

Mistake #4: Keeping it in a plastic bag
Did you know that wedding dresses kept in their original plastic garment bags are exposed to the most harmful environment possible: plastic fumes! “This can lead to yellowing over time,” warns Macari. Instead, your gown should be stored in a container that is acid-free and protects against light and air, says Conant. Personally, she prefers a box to a bag.

Mistake #5: Hanging it up like any other dress
Never hang your gown by the shoulders; always use the ribbons that are attached to the side seams since they can take the weight, instructs Conant. “Even so, hanging isn’t great for your dress, as the fabric, especially lace, can stretch out of shape. Also, just opening and closing the closet door will let in more light than is good for it.”

Mistake #6: Storing it in the attic or basement
Attics are too hot for your wedding dress to handle, literally! Temperatures can rise to more than 140 degrees Fahrenheit and rot the fibers of your gown, notes Conant. “Basements, on the other hand, are damp and if a pipe breaks, it’s almost certain that water will find your dress.”