Friday, May 25, 2012

Which Type of Box Should I Store My Gown In? Plastic vs. Paperboard

Paperboard wedding gown preservation boxes at Janet Davis Cleaners

What type of box should I store my gown in?

There are two main types of boxes you can store your wedding gown after it’s been professionally cleaned. Plastic and paperboard. Plastic boxes are really good at keeping stuff out, but that also means they are really good at keeping stuff in. This is bad for your dress, especially if it was packed on a day with high humidity.

The Smithsonian Museum Conservation Institute has this to say about how to preserve your textiles, “The use of acid-free corrugated cardboard boxes and acid-free tissue paper have been found to be an effective means to protect antique textiles against inadvertent exposure to light, abrasion, and soiling.” (http://si.edu/mci/english/learn_more/taking_care/geotex.html). And further states, “…the procedures to interleave and to separate individual textiles with acid-free tissue, to roll on acid-free tubes, and to pack in acid-free boxes has reduced damage enormously to textile collections in the Northern part of the United States.”

There’s another problem with plastic board as well, it doesn’t do well in fires. Sally Conant (the director of the Association of Wedding Gown Specialists, and former museum curator) has this to say about paperboard boxes, “I have many times heard of gowns in paperboard wedding chests surviving fires.  The paperboard is blackened and burned, but the gown inside can be saved.

The story I heard today is firsthand.  The bride lived in a condo.  In February, someone who smoked in another unit fell asleep, and fourteen units were destroyed.  Today for the first time she was allowed into what had been her unit.  Anything in plastic was not only destroyed due to fire and melted plastic but also smelled beyond belief.  There had been plastic storage containers in her regular closet, and everything in that closet was completely unusable.   Although it was very difficult to recognize anything in the debris, the bride did know the location of a number of things that were important to her, and she was able to rescue some heirloom bed linens and other things that were hanging in an auxiliary closet.

She also rescued some crystal, some shoes and a few other things that were packed in paperboard boxes.”

So, before choosing a wedding gown preservation company, ask which type of box they use, plastic or paperboard. 

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