Why Do Wedding Dresses Turn Yellow? [And What You Can Do]

Ever look at some of your white clothes and notice yellow rims around certain areas like the neck, armpits, and short liners? Yup, it’s natural for clothing that is white to turn yellowish, but what about your wedding dress? The last thing you want is your once beautifully pearly white wedding dress to look yucky yellow and dirty. 

So, why do wedding dresses turn yellow? In simple terms, wedding dresses start to turn yellow when the fabric and original fibers start to degrade. It is often the result of chemical changes. Every fabric has a lifespan, so no matter how good the materials are, at some point, they will start to experience this. Although some fabrics will yellow quicker than others.

Certain environmental factors can actually speed this process up too.

And there can you be things you are inadvertently doing that make it worse! 

But don’t worry, there are some things you can do to keep your dress brilliantly white.

Either ahead of your big day, or the months and years following!

Will My Dress Turn Yellow Before My Wedding?

It is a possibility that your wedding dress will start to turn yellow before your wedding. Although, this generally only happens if it is not properly cared for or stored properly. 

Because wedding dress shopping starts around 10 months or so before the wedding date, it becomes a real possibility that yellowing can occur. 

Yellowing starts to happen around six months.

And it can happen due to a number of factors. 

And due to the timelines, if you don’t take care of your dress and/or get it properly cleaned, it is surely going to start to show signs of yellow bits here and there. 

But with proper care and good materials, you may just be in luck.

Here are all the factors that contribute to yellowing fabrics that you should be aware of. 

Fiber Degradation

Fiber degradation is one of the top reasons that a dress will yellow. 

Part of the reason that wedding dresses can be so expensive is that they use quality fibers as a way to prevent the dress from yellowing. 

That doesn’t mean that an expensive dress is of good quality and that a cheap dress will yellow. 

But generally, good quality fibers will have a better shelf life which is why it is important to buy from reputable bridal shops. 

It is also why it is important to take care of your dress by following the manufacturer’s recommendations. 

Chemical Changes

Chemicals that are added to the dress during the manufacturing stages will also play quite a hefty role in the yellowing of your dress. 

What happens is that manufacturers will add an array of chemicals like fabric softeners, oils, waxes, and more to hold certain pieces of the dress together and create the flow of the fabric. 

A stiff dress is never comfortable, so this is the main function these chemicals play. 

But over time two things happen. 

The first is that as the chemicals become more exposed to air, they break down and can start the yellowing process themselves.

The other issue is that these chemicals can attract dirt, oil, pollutants, and more. 

Environmental Issues

Environmental issues combined with the other factors can become a real issue. 

When a dress is overly exposed to sunlight, this is one of the causes for it to change color. Just like when you have a couch or blanket in the sun, it starts to fade. 

Pollutants from the air also can dirty a dress. 

It’s impossible for it to avoid collecting dust if it is not stored correctly, and this will all contribute to the dress turning a yellowish color because simply it’s collecting debris and getting dirty. 

Added Contaminates

Your wedding day has a lot going on. 

You are going to put on body lotions, perfumes, makeup, hairspray, and a whole galore of products that will ultimately lead to the dress yellowing. 

This is why it is so important for brides to get their dresses cleaned after their wedding. 

The oil from the products attracts dirt from the dance floor and food, which continues to dirty the dress. 

How Do You Keep A White Dress From Turning Yellow?

The good news is that you can keep a white dress from turning yellow by taking proper care of it. 

The manufacturer may have specific instructions for you to take care of the dress, but also, the bridal shop from which you bought it will assist in keeping it clean. 

If you have brought your dress to a different seamstress than where you bought it, they will also need to do a good job of keeping it clean. 

Here are the best practices for keeping your dress nice and white both before and after your wedding day!

Stay Away From Stains

Of course, on your wedding day, you don’t want to wear your wedding dress when putting on your makeup or any of the above. 

But even trying the dress on multiple times could end up yellowing your dress because, shockingly, pollen in the air sticks to your dress.

This is why it’s important to try it on as little as possible and inside with the windows closed. 

When you do try on the dress, make sure you are freshly showered, free of residue from any body washes, and that your hair is dry free of oils.

You don’t want to have fragrances on or any body lotions that could leak and smear onto the dress. 

Wrap It Well

Keeping it protected is the most important thing that you or your seamstress should be doing.

Whenever it is being transported, it needs to be wrapped properly in a quality garment bag that avoids wrinkling the dress and doesn’t expose it to any air.

It needs to be protected from the environmental factors we talked about. 

It shouldn’t be exposed to sun, pollutants, and/or pollen. 

Avoid Boxes/Wraps with Acids

Boxes and garment bags that use chemicals may contain acids in their dyes or products that eat away at the dress and turn it yellow.

It’s important that you spend money on a quality storage option so that you don’t have to spend more money trying to fix the problem or getting a new dress. 

Can A Yellow Wedding Dress Be Whitened?

Yellow dresses can be whitened, but it’s a fairly difficult process and one that is, for the most part, best left to the pros.

Besides, wedding dresses are expensive, and they have a lot of meaning.

And if you are approaching the big day, it’s generally best not to risk it!

But, if you notice your dress starting yellow even a little bit, you should take action. 

Your first thought may be trying to clean it yourself! Don’t!

This can lead to even further yellowing or damaging the dress permanently beyond repair.

Thanks to technology and more advanced cleaning techniques, you can now turn a yellow dress back to its almost perfect white state. 

How To Get A Yellow Wedding Dress Whitened

Brides who have used these technologies and advanced treatments have even felt like their dress has been returned to a brand new pearly white state.

Here are some of the best ways you can turn that yellow into white and have a wonderful wedding day. 

Soak It

The last thing you should ever do is scrub your wedding dress.

This will cause the fibers to break and degrade quickly.

When you soak the dress in lukewarm water, it will help get the stains out and remove the debris, dirt, and oil.

Hot water is not recommended because it can melt chemicals and fibers on the dress. 

Professional Services

Professional services are your best bet.

They will know how to use special chemicals and cleaning solutions that won’t hurt the dress.

Steaming the dress and ironing the dress are both possible solutions.

But what happens is when someone uses a steamer or an iron that has an unclean surface, it can actually damage the dress.

The reason being is you are melting more unwanted pollutants into the dress. 

In Conclusion

Most women’s bridal gowns and wedding dresses remain beautifully white for their big day.

It is when someone is careless in the process that the dress can start to turn yellow.

Now that doesn’t mean that you are exempt from yellowing even if you do take care of your wedding dress in the months leading up to the wedding.

Wedding dresses can start to turn yellow as soon as six months after it is made.

The reason being is that cheap fibers will degrade quickly.

Environmental factors can speed up this process of the fibers degrading and turning yellow.

That is why it is important to invest in a storage system that is good quality and can block out the sun, air pollutants like pollen, and more.

After wearing your dress to your wedding party, the next thing you want to do is get it cleaned before getting it properly stored.

That way, you can get off all the dirt you picked up from the dance floor and other debris during your big day!

Naturally, over time your wedding dress will ultimately yellow, but by taking all these steps, you can at least prevent this before your wedding day, which is the most important thing.