How to Dry Clean Clothing at Home

The Truth About Dry Cleaning

Did you know that not all clothing that says, “Dry Clean Only” is in fact dry clean only? Clothing manufacturers are required to recommend one cleaning method and often they recommend Dry Cleaning because it can reduce the risk of returns by consumers who mishandle these clothes at home; manufacturers, therefore, tend to take a conservative approach. Most items that are made of natural fibres can actually be hand washed.

What to Wash

  • Clothing that is simply constructed, unlined and made of natural fibres (cotton, linen, silk) or polyester which is basically indestructible. These pieces can be washed by hand or in cold water in the machine.
  • Using a mesh bag can also help to protect “dry clean only” clothing.
  • Before washing anything with a deep colour make sure to test for colourfastness by wetting a part of the garment and pressing a white cotton swab or piece of paper towel into the piece of clothing to see if it picks up any colour. If it does, make sure to take it to the cleaner.

What NOT to Wash

  • Suits or pleated skirts. Don’t wash anything with a structure that could be compromised in the washing machine.
  • Don’t wash any clothing made from delicate synthetics such as rayon or fabric blends such as silk and wool. These fabrics tend to look their shape in water.
  • Leather and suede cannot be washed and should be left to the professionals.
  • Anything with an oil-based stain should be dry cleaned professionally as that stain will need special attention and specialty products.


$27.27 – The Laundress

This pH-neutral fabric wash is gentle on the natural fibers of wool, cashmere, merino, mohair, and blends. It thoroughly cleans, removing odor, dirt, and oil, while preserving your sweaters’ soft and supple hand and natural lanolin for decades to come. Plus, our cedar-based fragrance keeps pests away.

$10.68 – Amazon

Wash your garments in these bags to protect delicate fabrics and embellishment.

$12.96 – Amazon

“When all else fails and you can’t get a stain out, use Amodex. It’s a stain remover from a woman-owned company in Connecticut, and it’s actually what Sharpie recommends to remove Sharpie. It’s pricey, and each bottle is good for like eight stains, so it’s not something you can use all the time. But when all else fails and it’s going to be stained and ruined forever, use Amodex.”

$9.25 – Amazon

You can often spot-treat with a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol. It’s better on cotton garments, so you can use it on a cotton dress shirt. If you get a spot and want to wear it again, just spray on some rubbing alcohol and the spot will disappear. The alcohol won’t even leave a ring.

$25.84 – Laundress

Another trick: Use ironing water. I used to think it was silly because it’s just distilled water with a scent emulsifying it, but when you use it, the steam pushes the scent into the fibers so that it really lasts. You can wear something multiple times and it still smells good. I’m a total convert.

$29.95 – Amazon Glass Bottles

If something just doesn’t smell as fresh as it should, you can spray it with vodka, which has no scent when it’s dry and can be used to remove scent. Theater companies do this for their costumes. It’s a great trick because a lot of times you wear something to a restaurant or a smelly place, and if the scent is strong, vodka just cleanses.

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