Everyone throws clothes into the washer without a second glance. I’m guilty of that too. But what you may not know is that your favorite shirt, skirt or suit jacket will get destroyed in the washing/drying cycle. Hence why, when you look at the their tags, you will find “Dry Cleaning Only.”
Dry cleaning is just as it sounds. It prevents your clothes from shrinking or misshaping. This way you keep your favorite threads smelling and looking fresh without sacrificing comfort.
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If you learn how to dry clean at home, you will save yourself the costs of taking your clothes to a dry cleaner in the long term.
Do I HAVE to dry clean?
To be honest, most manufacturers that label their clothes with “Dry Clean Only” only do so because the industry requires at least one recommended cleaning method. Alternatively, it may read simply “Dry Clean.”
You can actually wash clothes labeled “Dry Clean” in a washing machine, particularly those stitched with natural fibers or polyester. If you are unsure, dry cleaning is the safest bet.
For fabrics like silk, wool, suede and pleaded skirts and suits, dry cleaning is preferred. Also, be wary of washing deep colors in the washer. Test a small area of the clothing to see if the color bleeds through when wet. If so, you should dry clean it.
How to Dry Clean at Home
Dry cleaning at home can be done a few ways, from purchasing a DiY cry cleaning kit, to buying steamers.
DiY Dry Cleaning Kits
You can find these in the laundry aisle at your local supermarket. Dry cleaning kits come with everything you need. They work best on water-based stains, and they also eliminate odors and wrinkles.
One dry cleaning kit can refresh several clothes. Follow the manufacturer’s directions to the letter for best results.
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These kits are only so effective, though. They do not remove oil-based or body-based stains too well.
Steam Washers & Dryers
This home appliance reaches high temperatures perfect for breaking down even the toughest of stains. To top it off, a steam washer also cools down clothes to prevent shrinkage.
When done, turn over to your steam dryer to finish the task. Steam dryers blast clothes with steam, leaving them smelling pleasantly fresh. Always thoroughly check for stains before using a steam dryer, as it will set stains deeper into the fabric.
Like their home-ridden cousins, portable steamers utilize steam to dry clean your clothes anywhere in the world. They are great for managing stains at work or out on vacation. However, there is an increased risk of burning from dripping water. Practice caution.
If you would rather not take a risk of washing an item labeled “Dry Clean,” hand washing is a simple alternative. Test an inconspicuous area first by wetting it and rubbing the spot with a cotton swab. If the color bleeds through, take it to a dry cleaner.
However, other fabrics can be hand washed in a bucket of cold water and a specific fabric cleaner or mild detergent. You want to use a delicate cleaner for these fabrics to maintain their integrity. Silk and wool may prove tricky to clean, but a little patience goes a long way when hand washing.