Hand-Washing an Old Wedding Gown

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Hand-Washing an Old Wedding Gown

Restoring an old gown back to its original state is a nearly impossible task, especially if you are doing it yourself. I decided to give it a try on an 80’s dress I am planning to use to make a new dress. Now be forewarned! I did my proper and extensive research on how to do this. If you have any doubts in yourself about attempting this or your dress has some very delicate details and the overall thought scares the bejesus out of you, then please please please get it done professionally!


I went over the dress thoroughly and used Dryell’s gentle spray and several cue-tips to remove any obvious stains.


Remove all metal fasteners from the dress beforehand! I Filled the bathtub with slightly warm water and 6 scoops of Oxi-Clean, chlorine free bleach and it’s very gentle. Also used a gentle powder detergent that is suited for baby clothes and it worked really well. Just make sure you don’t use too much.

Every 1/2 hour I “swished” the dress around very gently and checking on it’s progress. I noticed some heavy yellowing on the collar and mixed up a high concentrated solution of oxi-clean and dabbed the area, which did help lighten it.

**Tip** If the dress has a very large skirt you can lay it onto a bed sheet so you can remove it from the bathtub more easily. Also, if it feels like it will be too big for your bathtub you can wash it in portions ie. bodice first and then skirt, leaving the other portion out of the tub hanging.

The soaking was for 4 hours for this dress, but you can go longer – even overnight, depends on how yellow your dress is!


After 4 hours of soaking I felt the dress was looking much better. I slowly let the bathtub drain, filled it with fresh water and gave the dress a quick swish, and drained it again. This took 3 or 4 times before I felt that all the soap had been washed away.

I set up a large drying rack in the bathtub and carefully set the dress on it to let it drip dry. By morning it was dry enough to bring into a larger room to fully dry.

Just Look at the final result!

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