Many of our nice clothes are dry clean only. Taking your suits, dresses, etc. to the dry cleaner can be very expensive. Are you looking for a way to clean them at home? This is a guide about cleaning dry clean only clothing at home.
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If you have items that you have been dry cleaning (say, a silk blouse), a way to rejuvenate them is to wash them by hand. That will freshen them up by removing cleaning fluid buildup and make the whites white.
Source: My Mother
By pamphyila from L.A., CA
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Here are questions related to Cleaning "Dry Clean Only" Clothing at Home.
Can you wash a men's robe that says Dry Clean Only? The contents are 80 percent polyester and 20 percent acrylic?
By Linda L. 09/17/2011
I just bought a lovely pair of Ann Taylor slacks at a Thrift Store. I didn't think to check the care label. It says "Dry Clean Only". The fabric is 91% triacetate, and 29% polyester. Can triacetate be hand-washed?
By VBartlett from Columbus, IN
By joanfry 02/27/2011
Forget dry cleaners. I have not been for years. Think about the finer fabrics, wool, linen, silk, cashmere. They were all invented before dry cleaning. I do all of the above on the delicate cycle. For silk, roll up the item and store in the freezer until ready to iron It is actually the ironing and pressing that is the challenge. But there is a system for getting a professional look. I will post that another time. Think of the chemicals you are keeping out of your life if you do it yourself.
I have a nylon jacket that's dry clean only, oh and it's down. I thought I'd wash it with gentle soap and hang dry and then after put it in dryer to fluff. Thank you for any tips.
By Janice S
By Donna 10/30/2014
They sell dry clean kits in the grocery store. They include their special cleaning solvent and a bag to place the item in. Much cheaper then buying another coat if washing ruins it.
How can I dry clean a cotton dress at home?
By madhavi from Thane
By Pamela 05/20/2011
Woolite makes a product you can use to dry clean your dry clean only clothes at home. Very simple, easy to use.
I have some dresses that require dry cleaning. I would like to know how to do that work in home conditions?
By Marita from Shkoder, Albania
By Cindy 01/06/2011
Another suggestion - check into the "Dryel" product (I believe it is a Procter and Gamble product) that you can buy at the grocery store or discount store and use in your dryer. I've not used it for any kind of set-in stains, but it works well for refreshing and de-wrinkling "dry clean only" garments at home.
I have a pale pink cotton Guess jacket. So I left it alone for a bit and when I came back coffee or pop or something like that was spilled all over my coat. This was a couple of months ago and I need this stain to come out! The thing is, that my dry cleaners doesn't ensure that they can get the stain out so I want to know if it will be able to come out before taking it there. If anyone can help that would be great or any at home remedies even though it is dry clean. Please help.
By Lissy D. 
By Abigail A. 08/11/2015
You need a new dry cleaner. Find one that guarantees they can get it out or you don't pay the money.
I have a lovely and expensive wool peacoat. Unfortunately my niece threw up all over it. I checked for a washing label, but can't seem to find one, so I'm assuming it needs to be dry cleaned. Unfortunately the one closest to me has closed. Does anyone have any ideas on how to clean it? I've heard of washing on a gentle cycle with Woolite, but I'd like some other opinions before I give it a try.
By simplystephanie 12/28/2013
If the tag recommends dry cleaning, you're taking a risk by washing it yourself. However, some wool coats may be safely washed by hand or machine. If your coat just needs a touch-up, you can safely spot clean even dry-clean-only coats.
To hand wash:
1) Swish the coat back and forth in the soapy water for several seconds. Let the coat soak for up to 5 minutes.
2) Smooth out wrinkles with your hands, and gently shape the coat.
3) Lay the coat on a large bath towel. Roll the coat in the towel. Leave it for a few minutes to absorb water, then *dry.
*Allow the coat to dry thoroughly before hanging or wearing
I have a vest that looks like it is suede, but the shell says 100% polyester. The inside looks like sheep skin, but tag says 60% polyester, 40% acrylic. I brought the vest to a place that is the middle person. The dry cleaner did not want to clean it. Do you think I can wash the vest in Woolite only and hang dry it without damaging it?
By Kelly S
Will machine washing a pair of slacks labeled "dry clean only"made of 65%polyester/35%rayon ruin them?
I picked up a dress at a thrift store that's 50% rayon and 50% acetate. How do I clean it without dry cleaning? Can I machine wash this in cold water? Are there any other ways to wash it? Should I just hand wash it? If so, hot or cold water?
Does anyone know of an at-home method of cleaning men's dress suits? I remember reading books that mentioned "sponging" and other ways to clean wool suits prior to dry cleaning, but I don't know the procedures with today's fabrics.
By Elizabeth K.
Thrifty Fun has been around so long that many of our pages have been reset several times. Archives are older versions of the page and the feedback that was provided then.
A lot of clothes that _say_ dry clean are actually able to be washed in water. Most fabrics that we conventionally think of being dry clean only actually wash fine in water, except for two things:
1. Did the manufacturer pre-wash the fabric? Often, they don't. When you pre-wash fabric, it gets smaller, so if your clothes have not been pre-washed, your garment _may_ get smaller. Fabrics that are really bad for this are rayon and wool. Linen, silk, and _woven_ cotton (not knitted!) tend to be better.
2. Is the garment made out of a lot of fabrics that don't wash the same way. For example, polyester and linen shrink in completely different ways. If your garment is all of one fabric, you have a better chance of getting a garment through a wash unscathed. Also, sometimes the innards, interfaces, shoulder pads, etc. may get twisted in a wash. A less structured garment is more likely to survive water.
So, if you are willing to risk your clothes, you can often get away with "never" dry cleaning. I wear silks, rayons and wools all the time and I only go to the dry cleaners for my husband's suits (which I'm NOT willing to risk).
Obviously, if you wish to try this, HAND-WASH the garment first and let air dry.
By Kathleen K.
I have heard that soaking the item in cold water with hair conditioner and then stretching it out helps, but maybe nothing really does.
I'd appreciate any tips anyone might have! (05/17/2005)
I was wondering if you ever found a solution to your shrunken garment problem. I've been searching the web and so far all I've learned is that washing the garment in cold water and then drying in high (yes, high) heat and then ironing is the best solution. Supposedly it's warm WATER and the TUMBLING that shrinks clothes, not heat from the dryer. Heat from the dryer and ironing is supposed to aid in stretching. I don't want to risk this though if you've found a better solution. (11/04/2005)
Then, fold a towel and reshape the item on the towel. Place another folded towel ontop of the item and press. Let dry this way.
If it's really shrunken, maybe do this twice. The second time, let dry for a bit and then stretch and reshape again.
First of all, dry cleaning is an oil-based cleaning solution (usually percloroethylene) where upon the cleaner is "shot" into the washer and then sucked back out again by a "dryer". The cleaner adheres itself to many particles (that are NOT sugar-based or contain chemicals) which is why it works. However, there are so many iffy things that can occur.
For example, if you get the smallest spot of any kind liquid (but water) on your garment, it can react to the heat and/or dry cleaning fluid used which may result in a stain you did not notice before leaving the item. For example, Sprite, which dries clear but contains sugar, will turn a dark brown in dry cleaning because the heat caramelizes the sugar in it. Likewise, perspiration, hairspray, etc. all damage the color and/or fibers in a garment which can go unnoticed by you, until the mechanical action of the cleaning machine washes away the top layer of damaged color or washes out the damaged fibers.
I, too, would not recommend taking anything with sequins, glitter, or other added on accoutrements because in my years there, we found most of these things, despite what the label says, would NOT hold up to the dry cleaning process.
Remember that if you request a cleaning method other than the one on the label, the dry cleaner cannot be held responsible if something goes wrong. Likewise, if stain of some sort does appear such as the above, or in the underarm area, it is most likely NOT the result of mishandling by the dry cleaner, but of an unknown stain prior to cleaning, or simply a mislabeled cleaning method.
You would be surprised at how many garments are mislabeled in foreign countries simply because the manufacturers just want their money from the sale. Once you buy it, the manufacturer may disappear or refuse to back up its garments, and while there are laws that supposedly protect you, the consumer, against this, it may take weeks, months, or years to get any compensation out of the company.
The dry cleaning process simply does not create stains, it just may not be able to remove them. If you know of a stain, tell the counter person or dry cleaner and have them mark it with tape to be spotted prior to cleaning. They use a high-powered steam gun that can push the stain out of the fabric without damaging the fibers but if it is not gotten prior to cleaning, again, a stain will probably result. Just thought I'd let you all know.
By Wendy Cabler
I haven't had any clothes drycleaned for years (oh, I can hear some gasping, she must be dirty).
I never dry clean clothes. If it is wool, I just use Woolite and wash by hand. Anything else I use a mild detergent such as Woolite, Dreft, or Ivory and gently wash by hand in cool water.
When wringing out water, do that gently and do not twist. I always dry outside (or on the drying rack inside in the winter). The items always come out nice and I have saved a lot of money.