How do I clean a vintage veil?

Martha Stewart Weddings, Spring 2009

I want to wear my grandmother's veil, but it has yellowed. How can I clean it?

Examine the veil closely. If it's fragile or brittle, or you have any doubt about whether it will stand up to hand-washing, take it to a pro. Specialists can test it (something you can't do at home) to see if it can safely be restored. Inspect the trim, too. A wide satin band, for example, might wrinkle if cleaned at home; outsource the job if that's the case.

Next, inspect the fabric. If it's tulle, illusion netting, or lace, Joe Hallak, principal owner of Hallak Cleaners in New York City and Hackensack, New Jersey, suggests the following method for hand-washing: Lay the veil flat between two clean white towels, folding it if necessary to fit. The towels will keep the fabric from tearing under its own weight while wet or floating to the top of a tub full of water, which might result in uneven bleaching.

In a bathtub, combine warm water with all-color powder bleach, such as Clorox 2, according to the manufacturer's instructions; mixing the bleach with a small amount of very hot water before adding it to the basin of water helps ensure it dissolves fully.

Submerge the towels completely, with the veil between them. Soak for 20 minutes to 2 hours, checking every 20 to 30 minutes for whiteness. When it's done, rinse the towel-and-veil "sandwich" thoroughly with cold water. Wring gently. Remove the veil, lay it flat on a dry white towel, and tamp with another dry towel to remove excess water. Let dry; if the veil is made of tulle or netting, you can then hang it on a plastic hanger to store.

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