Dry-clean only?

Dry-cleaning costs can add up, especially if you have many garments that need special care. Of course, the first tip is to avoid this expense altogether by not purchasing any items that need dry-cleaning! However, that is not always realistic, especially depending on what type of job you have. So here are several tips to limit your dry-cleaning expenses. 

1) Know how to care for certain fabrics so you can wash them on your own at home. If the fabric can be machine-washed, put it inside-out in a mesh bag and use a delicate cycle. In other cases, hand-wash the item. For both, use cold water and a mild detergent or a product specially made for delicates, like Woolite or Ecover Delicate Wash. For drying, most of these types of garments need to be laid flat either on a working dryer or a flat mesh drying rack.

My husband has a trick for washing his button-down dress shirts. He washes them on permanent press and briefly dries them on low for about 15-20 minutes. He takes them out and hangs them to dry the rest of the way on a garment rack. For pants, he does the same thing; except they can lay on the rungs of a foldable hanging rack.

2) Do-it-yourself. There is a great product on the market called Dryel. For years my husband used Dryel for all his dress pants. This neat product uses a special sheet (like a fabric softener) in a special bag that you put in the dryer. The bag and sheet work together to clean your clothes without washing them. Dryel has evolved a bit since we first used it and they now have the bag kit as well as a spray-on freshener. Check out their website at http://www.dryel.com. They even have a promotion going on right now where you can receive coupons to save on their products and several others.

3) Know when to dry-clean and when not to. According to the article “Do I Really Need to Dry-Clean This?” from RealSimple.com, there are three things to consider when deciding whether something needs to be dry-cleaned:

  • The label: “Dry-clean only” means it has to be dry-cleaned to guarantee the garment will get cleaned properly and safely. However, “dry-clean” without the word “only” means it is just a recommended method.
  • The fabric: Silk, acetate, velvet, wool and taffeta items should be brought to a drycleaner. Cotton, linen, cashmere, polyester, acrylic and nylon can be washed at home. The article recommends you test the garment for colorfastness first, though. To do this, apply mild detergent to a cotton swab and dab it on a hidden area to see if any dye comes off.
  • The details: Most care directions apply to the fabric only, not to the added details. Make sure any beads, sequins, etc. are sewn on (not glued) and can pass the colorfast test above.
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