How to Clean a Taffeta Dress

by M.H. Dyer
Taffeta dresses display a smooth surface and high sheen.

Taffeta dresses display a smooth surface and high sheen.

A stiff, shiny fabric often used for special occasion dresses, taffeta is traditionally made from silk fibers. Synthetics -- such as polyester, acetate, nylon and rayon -- often make up newer taffeta fabrics. Take silk taffeta to a professional dry cleaner, because dry cleaning prevents water stains and maintains the fabric's softness and sheen. However, taffeta dresses made of sturdy synthetic fibers can withstand careful home laundering according to the garment care tag instructions.

Fill a sink or large basin with lukewarm or cold water. Although taffeta is shrink-resistant, hot water may cause colors to bleed or fade. Add a capful of gentle shampoo or soap for hand washables. Never use bleach, which is harsh and may strip the color from the garment.

Dunk the taffeta dress gently in and out of the sudsy water. Use gentle motions and avoid rough handling or agitation.

Rinse the dress twice, or until the water runs clear and all soap residue is removed.

Squeeze the excess water carefully from the dress. Avoid wringing or twisting, which may stretch the fabric and distort the shape of the garment.

Roll the dress in a clean white towel to remove excess moisture, then hang the dress on a rustproof hanger.

Allow the dress to dry in a well-ventilated area. Avoid direct sunlight, which may weaken the fibers.

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Items you will need

  • Large basin
  • Gentle shampoo or soap for hand washables
  • Clean, white towel
  • Rustproof hanger


  • Take stained taffeta to a professional dry cleaner as soon as possible. Explain the nature of the stain to help the professional cleaner determine the best treatment. Stains that remain in the garment are harder to remove.
  • Perspiration on taffeta often causes color changes that appear after the area dries. Don't attempt to remove perspiration stains at home because you may create permanent, set-in stains. Take the dress to a dry cleaner.
  • Press taffeta dresses with an iron turned to low heat or the delicate setting. Cover the fabric with a press cloth, such as a clean linen kitchen towel or pillow case, then press the dress on the wrong side of the fabric.

About the Author

M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.

Photo Credits

  • George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images