How to Wash Clothes That Should be Dry Cleaned

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Don't ruin that nice coat!

When it comes to laundry, I am what you call “not good at it.” I leave my dirty clothes piled up in a corner of my room (unless company is coming over, and then they just become a dirty pile of clothes hiding in my closet.) When it comes time to start cleaning things, I throw all the colors in at once, and just click start. This has lead to many clothing related debacles: the shrunken shirt incident of ‘04, the tie dye dress disaster of 2015, and, most recently, when I ruined a really nice coat that was Dry Clean Only.

I don’t usually buy Dry Clean Only things and in fact I did it on accident. But, having recently turned 30, I figure it’s time to actually start knowing how to take care of my things like an actual adult person. But, and this is a big but, I'm also on a budget. So I decided to research something potentially risky: how to wash your dry clean only clothing at home. It turns out it's not that hard. Even someone who's a disaster when it comes to most things cleaning related can do it. Here's how.

  • Always read the label. Wool, silk, and cotton can all probably be washed at home. Other items, listed later, are best left to be dry cleaned.

  • Do a spot test first. Using a q-tip, use a small amount of water and detergent and clean a tiny surface of the garment. *If the dye of your garment stains the cotton swap, it needs to be dry cleaned.

  • To machine wash, this is the best way: turn garments inside out, put them in a mesh bag, and wash them on cold on the most delicate cycle.

  • Dry. Roll clothing up in a towel and ring it dry. Do this multiple times until the clothing is no longer wet. After completing this process 4-5 times, lie your clothes out flat on a dry surface of the towel, and wait for the items to dry completely.

  • If you want to hand wash, fill a clean sink with cold water and a bit of mild detergent. Dip your garment in and out until it has been thoroughly cleaned. Then, empty the sink and refill it with new water. Wash off your garment, and then dry.

However, not everything can be washed at home. There are a few things you should definitely always splurge on getting dry cleaned, such as suede, leather, velvet, fur, and taffeta.

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Additionally, if you want a life hack, there are some at home dry cleaning kits made by companies like Woolite that do all the work for you at home. If you're nervous about all the other steps, this might be the best option for you. You can buy your own kit online at websites such as Amazon.


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