Question: I am washing a dress that is 95% polyester and 5% spandex. The tag on the dress says to dry clean, can this piece be washed?
Washing “dry clean only” clothing is taking a bit of a chance. Though for many of us, it’s worth the risk to avoid the high cleaning costs or when we simply don’t have the time to take our clothing to the dry cleaners. While some fabrics respond just fine to a gentle wash, others shrink or lose their shape from the washing process and exposure to water. There are also kits available to dry clean your clothing at home. Regardless of the method you choose, here are the steps and information you need to know.
DIY Dry Cleaning
You Will Need:
- Dry Cleaning kit such as Dryel
Steps to Clean the Clothing:
- Dryel has developed a way for consumers to clean their dry clean only pieces at home using similar methods that the dry cleaners use. Essentially this kit comes with the dry cleaning solution and cleans your piece without exposing it to water.
- Dryel is available at most stores that carry laundry cleaning products such as Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, etc.
- Follow the directions provided on the packaging for proper use.
Washing Dry Clean Only Clothing
You Will Need:
- Mild detergent such as Woolite or
- Dishwashing liquid such as Ivory
- Cool water
- Hair dryer
Steps to Wash the Clothing:
- Though some garments can tolerate the agitation of the washing machine, most are better off being hand-washed.
- Fill a sink with cool water and add a small amount of mild detergent or dish soap.
- Agitate the water to disperse the detergent and make a few suds.
- Place the garment carefully into the water.
- Move the garment gently a few times, but avoid swishing or rubbing the fabric. Often times, dry clean only fabrics require gentler handling than washable items.
- If there are soiled areas, allow the piece to soak to remove the dirt.
- When the piece is cleaned, lift it out of the water and squeeze it gently to remove some of the excess water. Do not wring or twist the fabric as this can cause it to lose its shape.
- Empty the sink and splash some water around on the sink basin to rinse it. Fill the sink with plain water, then put the garment in the water and move it around gently to rinse out any soap residue.
- Lift it out of the water again and squeeze it gently to remove excess water.
- Spread out an absorbent towel and lay the piece flat on top of the towel.
- Roll the towel and garment, pressing gently to remove any excess water.
- Repeat with a dry towel until most of the water is removed.
- To dry the piece, lay it flat on a clean, dry towel and allow it to air dry.
- To speed up the drying process, a hair dryer can be used on the cool setting.
Additional Tips and Ideas
- Know your garments before attempting to wash silk, wool or linen pieces that are labeled as “dry clean only.” In these cases, it is best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and either utilize a DIY dry cleaning kit or take it to the cleaners.
- Some wool items will shrink greatly if exposed to water.
- Testing a small hidden area first is a crucial step to ensure that the water does not cause any unwanted effects to the fabric.
- If you choose to wash your dry clean only clothing, always be prepared for the worst. While many pieces may come out just fine, there always seems to be one piece that should have been taken to the dry cleaners. Take it as a lesson learned.
- If the clothing is valuable or of high importance, you’re better off not chancing it and following the cleaning instructions on the label or contacting a professional.