That dreaded ‘dry-clean only’ tag doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t wash your favorite clothing at home. The easiest way to tell if you can clean it at home is to first check the tag to see how to proceed. The second thing you need to check is the fabric type.
Garments that are made of natural fibers like cotton, silk, or linen are candidates for home washing. Some synthetic polyesters can be washed as well. However, delicate synthetics like rayon or blends that can also include silk should be taken to the dry cleaners. Articles of clothing with unique beading or sequins should also be left to the professionals.
Once you determine the fabric is safe, try a test spot. You will want to use cold water and some detergent on a small area to see if the color bleeds. If it does, then it can’t be taken care of at home and will need to be sent to the cleaners.
Here are a few ways to clean your dry-clean-only clothes at home:
Pre-Treat: It’s important to pre-treat any stains on your clothing before proceeding with any washing technique. There are many great spray stain removers, for example Spray n’ Wash or Oxi Clean. Spray the stained areas and let it sit for a few minutes before proceeding. You can even rub the area to help it set in further.
Washing Machine: Cotton, linens, silk, and polyesters can go in the washing machine. Turn your clothes inside out and place them in a mesh laundry bag. Wash with mild detergent on a gentle hand wash or delicate cycle in cold water. Don’t forget fabric softener. When it’s done, take out and lay flat to dry.
Hand Washing: Fill your sink, a basin, or the tub with cold water and a small amount of mild detergent and fabric softener. Dip your clothing in and out of the water until it’s saturated. Rub stains with your fingers. Once you feel it is clean, empty the basin and refill it with cold water. Use the same dipping method until your clothes no longer feel soapy.
Dry-Cleaning Kits: You can purchase an at-home dry-cleaning kit that is quite a bargain compared to bringing it to the cleaners. These work well to get rid of wrinkles and eliminate odors. However, stains have different results. Water-based stains can be removed, but these kits will need more help to get rid of oil-based stains.
Remember never to use a drying machine with your dry-clean-only clothes. It will shrink and destroy them. When you dry your clothes, lay them flat so they keep their shape.