Do you pick out a blouse or sweater, only to put it back on the rack if the tag reads “Dry Clean Only?” While all clothing has tags with instructions on proper care and laundering, this is a only a recommendation.
Depending on the fabric and type of garment, you may be able to clean that dry-clean-only garment at home. Learning which items you can clean at home and which really require dry cleaning can save you money and reduce your exposure to chemicals used during the dry cleaning process.
What You Can Wash at Home
Simply constructed garments that are unlined and made of natural fibers, like cotton, linen, and silk, and synthetic polyester fiber are generally safe to clean at home. You can hand wash them or place items in a mesh bag and use on cold cycle in the washing machine.
What Not to Wash at Home
Clothing made from delicate fabrics, like rayon, silk, and wool as well as pleated skirts, suits and other delicate synthetics require dry cleaning. Garments made from these fabrics will lose their shape in water.
Clothes with deep colors, like red, must be tested for colorfastness before washing at home. Choose an inconspicuous area of the garment and wet it with a few drops of water. Press the area with a cotton swab or white cloth; if the color bleeds, take it to the dry cleaners.
Leather and suede garments and clothing with beads or other types of embellishments need special care too. Heavily soiled garments are best left to the pros, because professional dry cleaners have specialized solvents to help remove oil-based and other difficult-to-remove stains.
Tips to Keep Clothes Clean
You can do a few things during your daily routine to keep your clothes clean.
- · Make it a habit to apply deodorant, brush your teeth, spray perfume and other toiletries a few minutes before getting dressed. This allows the products to settle, so nothing rubs off on, or drips, on your clothing.
- · Take care of stains ASAP! When a dribble of coffee or a dot or mustard is not treated immediately, the stain oxidizes and becomes almost impossible to remove. Carrying a stain remover pen is a good idea; however, for oil-based stains, like lipstick, get the garment to the dry cleaners as soon as possible.
- · After work, hang your outfit in a well-ventilated spot. An airy place can help remove smoke, perspiration and other odors.
- · Change clothes as soon as you get home. This way you won’t splatter sauce or oil on your clothes while cooking dinner.
Don’t put back a garment you really love because of care instructions. With proper care, it may rarely need dry cleaning, or you may be able to clean it at home.