using washing machine in cleaning wedding dress

Can I wash my wedding dress in the washing machine?

The wedding day is one of the most special days for every woman, and so is everything related to that day. You take a long time to finalize your lovely dress for your BIG DAY and make sure it remains at its best for as long as possible. You’ll definitely want to preserve your wedding dress. But after all the makeup traces, food stains, and blackish-brown layer on the bottom or train of the dress, cleaning the bridal gown after THE day can be daunting. Most women rely on dry cleaners to get rid of even the toughest of stains. But there are some women who choose to clean their wedding dress on their own, that too in the washing machine.

Is it safe to wash your bridal gowns in the washing machine? Believe it or not, but you can put your wedding dress in the washing machine in most cases. If your gown is made of silk or is heavily embellished, you must refrain using the machine. If not, washing machines provide a high success rate. Your gown won’t be ruined but will be wrinkled after being washed and will need to be steamed or pressed.

Keep in mind that attempting to clean your own wedding dress at home can become a risky business. A lot of these designs are made with delicate fabrics and intricate accents that professionals are trained to care for. But, for those wanting a cost-effective strategy and a try with their own hands, here’s a rundown on how to approach the task.

Approaching Different Fabrics

Wedding dresses are made with delicate materials that need special care and attention in order to keep the wedding gown preserved. Preserving your wedding gown depends on the special care given to its delicate materials. Some of the most common wedding dress fabrics include satin, charmeuse, chiffon, organza, tulle and lace, and each requires different cleaning techniques.

Some fabrics are trickier than others. Some may shrink in the wash, and others may tear. Some may not even fit inside of your washer – like those tulle ball gowns. It’s important to do some research on the fabric of your gown and learn how to care for it appropriately. Here are some of the most popular options:

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This delicate fabric can be hand washed in cold water or put in the washing machine on a gentle/delicate setting.


Hand washing is definitely the way to go when it comes to getting your lace wedding gown cleaned. Do it in cold water to reduce the possibility of shrinking and avoid the washing machine completely.


Like charmeuse, organza is a silk option but a bit lighter in feel. Opt for hand washing.


If you are nixing the dry cleaning option on your chiffon gown, the safest route to take is hand washing. You don’t want this soft fabric to rip inside your machine.


This material is usually blended with others. It can be both hands washed or placed on the gentle cycle in the washing machine. Use your judgment here.


Same with polyester, this is a blendable fabric that can withstand both hand washed and machine wash cycles. Use your judgment.


This stretchy option is becoming a more popular choice among brides. Check the tag on this one, and it may give you specific instructions. When in doubt, hand wash but watch out for the possibility of shrinkage.


These gowns can go either way. You may want to check the tag depending on its designer, but hand washing in lukewarm water is a safe route to take.


A lot of tulle gowns won’t even be able to fit in washing machines although they can withstand those cycles (just place them on gentle). Use your best judgment when deciding which route to take here.

Stain Removal Techniques

Wedding dresses are made with special materials that are extremely delicate, and if not properly treated, can lead to stretching, yellowing and fraying. Don’t let the hours and hours you spent wedding-dress shopping (or the trips back to the store for alterations) go to waste. Instead, learn how to clean your gown.

Oil-Based Stains (Food or Baby Oil)

Dish soap and white vinegar will be your friend with these ones. Tap the stain with a cloth or Q-tip and try to remove as much as you can.

Grass Stains

These ones are really tricky as they’re usually only at the bottom hem of a dress that’s been worn outside and a lot of advice points in the direction of leaving this one to a professional cleaner. But, if you want to take it in your own hands, try mixing water and laundry detergent together and then allowing the solution to sit on the stain for about twenty minutes. After the solution is allowed to sink in, rinse the stain.

Earth-Based Stains (Sode, Wine, Juice)

Get it wet immediately. Preferably, add a bit of dish soap in its flushing. If that doesn’t do the trick, try adding some bleach in as well.

Dirt or Clay Stains

Grab a dry towel and rub away what you can before going in with a damp cloth. Once damp, though, do not rub. Instead, just delicately brush off as much as possible.

Protein-Based Stains (i.e. blood or sweat)

Don’t go in for the kill with chemicals here. Instead, dab off as much as you can – dab, NOT RUB – before creating a homemade solution. Water, ammonia, peroxide, and dish soap come together to create a mixture that can help remove these kinds of stains. But do so with a delicate hand.

Lipstick Stains

This is the doomsday stain of all stains, and there’s no real solution to getting these out completely. Instead, it’s best just to steer clear of the possibility altogether. Wait to put your lipstick on until after you’ve shimmied into the gown and give all ladies in the vicinity a warning when they come in for a hug.

Other Makeup Stains (i.e. foundation or blush): These aren’t as tricky as lipstick. You can usually dab these with water or makeup remover to get them out.

Attention To Delicate Details

The details on your gown must be considered within the washing process. Throwing a gown with a beaded bodice into the washer will cause quick tragedy. Instead, take into consideration all accents surrounding your dress and decide how you will deal with each.

Beadwork, appliques, sashes, etc., should all be removed before you begin the actual cleaning process (whether by hand or machine). This will ensure that these items are not lost or damaged. You just need to be sure you know how to re-apply them.

Drying Options

There aren’t many options when it comes to drying. No matter if you’ve decided to hand wash or machine wash your gown, you’ll want to dry it the same way.

Never squeeze or twist your gown to get any water out. Instead, you’ll want to spread your dress out on a flat surface and allow it to air dry. Do not put it in the light (as the sun can cause it to fade or yellow) and don’t put it in a spot that’s too hot or too cold.

When the washer is done, simply remove your gown, turn it right side out and hang it to dry. DO NOT PUT YOUR GOWN IN THE DRYER. If any stains are still present, you can try the process again - keep in mind some stains will just not come out due to type or age.

Your dress will be wrinkled, so either buy a steamer - which you can purchase at any department store - or bring it to the local laundromat to have it steamed. 

Hand Washing vs. Machine Washing

Hand washing is a completely acceptable way to get your wedding dress clean, but there are some considerations. Check the fabric of your gown and make sure that it can be hand washed. Just like some of your best pieces of clothing have tags that say, “dry clean only,” the same can go for these designs.

As mentioned previously, some fabrics can be damaged by handwashing (or machine washing) so make sure that your velvet or linen gown won’t be caused any harm in the process. Also, before you get started, you’ll want to remove as many embellishments as possible. We stressed this before as well, but those beads or appliques can be completely ruined or lost while washing.

Machine washing is very, very tricky and is never recommended as an outlet for washing wedding gowns. This really only works for the simplest of designs and after you’ve followed all the aforementioned steps including detaching appliques or other embellishments, and even going as far as turning the dress inside out.

If you have no other options and need to use this method, make sure that every setting is under control. Inputting the wrong methods (don’t use the fully automatic setting) or temperatures can result in colour fading or damage to the dress if any accessories scratch the material when spinning in the machine. It’s better to remove said embellishments from before. Turn the dress inside out and use a slower wash speed. Don’t use a tumble dryer – leave it to air dry instead.

Unsafe for Machine Cleaning

The first step in wedding dress preservation is to have your dress cleaned within 24-48 hours of your wedding day. Between sweat, makeup, reception foods and other potentially damaging substances, many stains could be on your dress (some not even visible). When these substances are left on your wedding dress, they can eat away at the fabric and cause permanent staining. Having your dress professionally cleaned is the best assurance that all stains and oils from the wedding day are removed. If cleaning can’t be done immediately, be sure to place your gown in a cloth garment bag, not a plastic one, to allow the dress to breathe properly.

Wedding dresses are made with different fabrics such as satin, rayon, silk, velvet, and other materials. They also contain many loose decorations, and the material of these dresses is very delicate. Due to this, it is better to avoid using any home remedies in washing the wedding dress, as it can damage the material and can cause the adornments to get detached from the fabric.

Professional dry cleaners take the utmost care in handling the wedding dress material. The water-free cleaning method will ensure that the dress is clean, without causing any damages to the fabric.

Revive Fabrics

The specialized cleaning agents utilized in dry cleaning are much gentler on wedding dresses. They can remove the stains by simply dissolving it away rather than using the agitating and tumbling action of washing machines. The oil contents in the cleaning solvents can also aid in strengthening the fabric material, which will provide a new and refreshed look to your wedding dress.

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Instantly Removes Dirt

The accumulation of stains from food, beverages, and oil will become permanent on the surface of your wedding dress if left unattended. Likewise, minor damages can result in the dress to tear if subjected to stress. In such a scenario, dry cleaning is the best alternative to consider, as it will instantly clear the dress of any stains.

Professional one-day dry cleaners are specialized in the field of garment care and tailoring. Besides the general cleaning, dry cleaners also offer other services like patching up tears, reattaching beads, and fixing any stitching concerns in the wedding dress.

For cleaning wedding dresses, dry cleaning is the best option to consider. Other options like cleaning at home using a washing machine can damage the material of the dress and should be avoided at all costs. Here are some of the reasons why you should employ professional one-day dry cleaners for cleaning your wedding dress.

FAQs About Washing Wedding Dresses

When it comes to the question of whether you can wash a wedding dress in the washing machine, it is possible but on two conditions: that the fabric is washing machine-friendly (ideally cotton or polyester) and that there aren't any embellishments that might get stuck and rip in the washing machine.

Professional dry cleaners will steam or press wedding dresses, but brides can also purchase a handheld steamer for their own use at home.

You can easily hand-wash the gown on your own if your bridal gown fabric and lining are polyester. Dry-cleaning solvents don't remove perspiration and most food spills, so wet cleaning will often clean your gown better than dry-cleaning.

The delicate fabrics in a wedding dress will begin to yellow after just six months if your dress is not cleaned, cared for, and stored properly after your wedding day. This situation is an example of fabric yellowing in an environment where heat, moisture, and temperature are ideal.

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