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How to Whiten a Vintage Lace Wedding Dress

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By Johanna Ullrich

How to Whiten a Vintage Lace Wedding Dress

the dress

My Laundry Question

I am getting married and want to be able to wear my grandmother's wedding dress. The dress was handmade, and is a taffeta-type underdress with a cotton (venetian?) lace overlay. The dress is in very good condition, except the lace is considerably yellowed. It is yellowed unevenly, and especially around the seams in the lace. Is there any way I could whiten the dress without damaging the fabric? The fabric still seems very strong and flexibly (I have tried it on).

Share a Little Background Info

Age. The dress was handmade in 1953 for my grandparent's wedding. The dress was in near perfect condition when my mother used it for my parent's wedding in 1979, but since then the color has changed. Is there any way I could whiten the dress without damaging the fabric? The fabric still seems very strong and flexibly (I have tried it on).

Lessons Learned

  • nothing has been tried yet. We did not want to damage the dress in any way,

Fabric Content of Item (if appropriate)

cotton lace, taffeta underdress, handmade taffeta encased buttons.

Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com Laundry & Laundry Rooms, says:

Your dress is lovely and what a wonderful family tradition. All the best in your impending wedding.

To whiten the lace, fill a bathtub with cool water.

Mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Clorox 2, Country Save Bleach, Purex 2 Color Safe Bleach) with the water. Follow the package directions as to how much product per gallon of water. Completely submerge the dress and allow it to soak for at least eight hours. Check the color. If it is as white as you want, rinse the dress. Do not wring, just squeeze gently to remove the water. Hang to dry using a plastic hanger so no rust will appear. If it needs to be whitened more, mix a fresh solution and repeat. It may take several soakings to get it back to white but it should come out well.

You will then need to press the garment well.

Good luck!

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