Dry-cleaning describes a process of cleaning garments and fabric using various solvents rather than water (wet-cleaning). It really isn’t “dry” at all, it just means the cleaning fluid is not water.
When considering care and preservation of your wedding gown you should understand the reasons you would use dry-cleaning for your wedding gown.
First read the fabric care label inside your wedding gown. Wedding gowns can vary in the fabrics used. Everything from delicate silks to polyester or combinations are all common. The manufacturers will state in their fabric care instructions “dry-clean only”. The reason they do this is the dry-cleaning process is the safest for almost all fabrics.
Dry-cleaning solvents used are four main varieties: perchloroethylene, Stoddard solvent, hydro-carbon also known as Exxon DF-200, and greenearch.
Perchloroethylene asll called “perc” is the most common solvent used by dry-cleaners. It is the best degreasing agent amongst the four. For wedding gowns with sequins and beads perc can sometimes damage them. It can also dissolve the glue that attaches some sequins and beads to the wedding gown. This usually only happens on “cheaper” wedding gowns – they tend to keep the costs down by using cheaper beads and sequins and glue them on rather than sew them on as done on better quality wedding gowns.
Stoddard Solvent is being used less and less. There are certain fire regulations for Stoddard solvent which dis-allows it’s use in many malls, strip malls and shopping centers. This solvent is safer than perc for cleaning wedding gowns with sequins and beads, especially if they are glued on.
Exxon DF-2000 is a newly formulated petroleum based solvent. It too is safer than perc for sequins and beads. It is not as good as a degreaser as perc. Which means it’s cleaning ability for body oils, oils in foods or oily dirt (like asphalt dirt) is not as effective as perc. DF-200 has fewer fire restrictions than Stoddard and more dry-cleaners are using it because of that advantage.
Greenearch is a silicone solvent that also is fairly new to the dry-cleaning industry. It is more environmentally friendly – hence the name. It too is not as good as a degreaser for cleaning wedding gowns with oil stains or oily dirt. It is safe for beads and sequins and can be used for garments whose care label recommends a petroleum based solvent.
All of these solvents have one BIG drawback. The do not remove sugar substances from your wedding gown. Wedding gowns are especially prone to sugar stains. These can be caused by anything containing any sugar or corn syrup in them coming in contact with your wedding gown. Cake, anything with frosting, wine, sodas are all common sugar stains. The stain may not be visible but brown spots may occur later when the sugar substances oxidize. Sugar stains is the primary cause of “yellowing” stains in your wedding gown over time.
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