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Are Bodies Cremated With Clothes On?

stack of clothes

Are bodies cremated with clothes on? How to dress your loved one for direct cremation

It’s been a common practice for centuries to be buried or cremated in fine clothing and surrounded by mementos of a life well lived. But every cremation is different, and not all clothing or accessories are safe to include.

Many people wonder whether bodies are cremated with clothes on, and how much control they’ll have over what clothing and objects their loved one may be cremated with when the time comes. The answer depends largely on the cremation provider you choose as well as what you communicate to the provider prior to cremation.

When are bodies cremated with clothes on?

Typically, a traditional cremation arranged with a funeral home will include a dressing prior to a viewing and/or cremation. This may be taken care of by professional personnel, but many funeral homes also offer the option of allowing family members to dress their loved one at the funeral home. Often, the clothes will be chosen and provided by the family. Some funeral homes also sell funeral clothes that can be purchased for the dressing.

Direct cremation services, on the other hand, do not include viewings or dressing services. In many cases, people are cremated in either a sheet or the clothing they are wearing when they arrive at the crematory. However, most direct cremation providers allow you the option of dressing your loved one, yourself, prior to direct cremation if you prefer.

Keep in mind that not all materials may be allowed in the cremation chamber.

What clothing and accessories can be cremated?

Regardless of the cremation service you choose, certain materials cannot be cremated due to the risks involved. These materials are simply not combustible and may severely damage equipment and pose a safety risk if they’re in the cremation chamber while it is operating. Generally avoiding outfits with buttons, zippers, or snaps will help you make a safe selection.

Here’s a brief overview of some of the most common materials that typically can and cannot be cremated.

May be cremated: 

  • Wood
  • Wicker
  • Cardboard/paper
  • Most clothing, especially natural materials such as cotton or wool

May not be cremated: 

  • Metal
  • Rubber
  • Glass
  • Plastic
  • Certain (usually synthetic) clothes that may contain chemicals that are hazardous to burn
  • Mechanical or electronic devices, including battery-operated implants such as pacemakers

In addition, certain states and counties may have their own unique laws regarding what materials may be cremated. Each cremation provider may have their own set of rules as well. For this reason, it’s important to always talk to your provider about specific guidelines before choosing an outfit for your loved one’s cremation.

How to dress your loved one for direct cremation

While traditional funeral homes often include dressing in their services, more and more people are opting for direct cremation instead due to its affordability and simplicity. If you do choose direct cremation, dressing your loved one before cremation will likely be your responsibility, not your cremation provider’s.

Some may find this idea intimidating. However, many find a sense of peace and even closure in the process of grooming and dressing their loved one after their passing. It’s also likely that help will be available if you need it. If your loved one passes away in hospice or a care center, professional caregivers may be able to aid with the process. Even if this is not the case, you can still dress your loved one on your own—though the help of a family member or friend is highly recommended.

Here’s how to dress your loved one before direct cremation:

  • Remove the clothing you do not want your loved one cremated in. In many cases, it’s usually easier to cut the clothing off than to try to remove it as you normally would.
  • Wash your loved one, if desired. While not necessary, many people like to include this step for religious or personal reasons. Soap, water, and a washcloth are likely all that you’ll need. Be sure to dry your loved one’s skin thoroughly afterward.
  • If your loved one will be wearing a shirt, skirt, or dress: Carefully split the garment straight up the back. You can then dress your loved one by laying the garment over them and wrapping it around them. (For shirts or dresses, be sure to slide the sleeves up their arms first before tucking the back sections underneath them.)
  • If your loved one will be wearing pants or shorts:
      1. Compress the pants or shorts so that the bottom cuffs are pressed against the seat of the garment. Raise your loved one’s legs and slide the garment onto both legs, pulling it up as high as possible. Usually, this will be somewhere around the top of the thigh.
      2. Roll your loved one over onto one side. Seize the belt of the pants or shorts and pull them up to their waist. Repeat with the opposite side. Fasten the garment closed.
  • Add socks, shoes, and other desired accessories. Keep in mind that you can dress your loved one in whatever you like before cremation, but that any prohibited materials will be removed by the crematory operators before the cremation takes place. Gently brush and/or comb their hair, apply makeup, and perform any other desired grooming activities.

What happens after the dressing?

After the dressing is complete, the rest of the process will be the responsibility of your direct cremation provider. At Tulip Cremation, we arrange the transportation of your loved one to the crematory and take care of all the necessary paperwork for you, including acquiring certified copies of the death certificate and permits of disposition. Your loved one will be cremated along with their clothing, provided they are safe to cremate. Our dedicated Family Care Team is available 24/7 online or by phone should you have any questions about what materials can be included in your loved one’s cremation.

Following cremation, we’ll return your loved one’s ashes to you in a secure container. We can ship to any address within the United States via USPS Priority Mail Express. Or, if you prefer, we also offer a personal hand-delivery service featuring a premium aluminum urn in select counties. Feel free to contact our team anytime, night or day, to learn more about our direct cremation service.

Tulip Cremation offers a simple direct cremation service for an affordable upfront cost. Our service includes transportation, preparation, and a dignified private cremation. We can then ship your loved one’s ashes in a simple container to any US postal address. Call our Family Care Team at (844) 942-4909 to learn more or arrange online quickly and easily.