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.
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
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.
How can I dry clean a cotton dress at home?
By madhavi from Thane
Woolite makes a product you can use to dry clean your dry clean only clothes at home. Very simple, easy to use.
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.
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
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.
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 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?
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.
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
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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 dry cleaned for years (oh, I can hear some gasping, she must be dirty). No, I've found over the years that most things can be successfully washed in the washing machine. Even things that have "dry clean only" labels on them. Nothing has ever shrunk or wrecked on me yet!
I wash in cold water only (that helps to save on electricity bills, too). I've washed my woolen winter jackets, and many other items. Of course, I don't think you would wash a fancy ball gown, (I don't have any) or a man's business suit, but for other items it works just fine.
By Ellie from Melbourne, Australia
I have washed my goose down comforter by hand in the tub, using Woolite. Make sure you never wring it out or twist while washing. It will break the feathers and ruin it. Basically you knead the comforter and let set for an hour or two, then empty and rinse until it doesn't feel soapy anymore. You can add some vinegar, about a 1/2 cup, to the rinse water and let set for 15 minutes, then rinse out with fresh cold water.
This should help the yellowness go away when the sun shines on it. I then let it dry outside on the line for all day, but it did not dry all the way. I placed it in the dryer on delicate with low heat and it stayed fluffy, and was definitely white and smelled like new. The tumbling of the dryer did not hurt the fluff a bit. Hope this helps. (03/06/2008)
Washing/drying down jackets or comforters. I have a down jacket that has instructions for washing and drying. I washed it on cold with other clothes, but the label said to dry it alone with 3 clean tennis balls. I thought this was crazy, but I had some new ones and I tried it. The jacket was as good as new and very fluffy.
You could do this for comforters perhaps on a no heat setting in the dryer and more balls. Just thought this was a strange but interesting find. I think my jacket was a Kenneth Cole. (07/29/2008)
I then use the delicate cycle on the dryer to get out excess water and then let them hang until fully dried. Investing in a steamer is a great idea to get out any residual wrinkles and return things to shape without having ironing marks. Saves loads of money! Dryell also works good for woolens. You have to be careful washing things with wool content. It almost always has some shrinkage. (10/02/2008)
I never dry clean clothes. If it is wool, I just use Woolite and wash by hand.