Understand the cleaning cost of your prom dress

Here’s the scoop:  Knowing what goes into cleaning prom and other formal gowns can be helpful when shopping for your perfect dress.

It is prom season and girls are hitting the stores to find that perfect dress.  Among all the sequins, tulle, beads, and satin are potential cleaning challenges that can drive up the cost of the gown to almost more than the original purchase price. 

When selecting a gown, take the time to consider the construction and the care label.  Cheaper doesn't necessarily mean that it will be inexpensive in the long-term. Take a close look at the fabric and how it was sewn together.  Beading and sequins glued in place will dissolve in many dry cleaning products.  If the bling is made of inexpensive material, it can become damaged in the dry cleaning process.  The more bling, layers, and delicate work will be more expensive to clean.

Also understand a label that states, "spot clean only".  Sometimes spot treatment will leave water marks or stains from the spotting agent.  If this occurs, the entire dress will then need to be cleaned.

A specialized dry cleaner with experience will take the time to treat each dress with a careful hand and eye.  With this extra care, you typically will pay more for that extra attention.  It will also take more time to ensure that the job is done well.  Dry cleaners are trained to understand the various types of fabrics and the types of treatments that can be used on various stains.

In the end, you need to look beyond the price tag on the dress to determine its actual cost.  When the dance is over, if you are planning on storing the dress for the long-term it is best to clean any perspiration, self-tanning lotion, make-up and food and beverage stains before they set or attract moths that make small holes and damage the fabric.

In any case, have fun shopping and do select that dress that you love.  If cleaning costs worry you, then have the best time of your life and celebrate the heck out of that dress and happily never wear it again.  You will have the fun memories to remember for years to come!