How to wash dry-clean-only clothing at home

NewsUSAApril 19, 2013 

When it comes to delicate fabric and dry-clean-only clothing, washing your favorite items can be a hassle. Picking things up from the dry cleaner isn’t always a quick stop, especially if any unexplained marks or stains appear on your clothes.

And some chemicals used at specific dry cleaners can trigger allergic reactions – from respiratory symptoms to irritated skin.

The same chemicals also tend to remove the natural oils from yarn, which can leave sweaters dull and thin. But cleaning your favorite sweater dress or down comforter doesn’t have to be an inconvenience. It also doesn’t have to be expensive. By using a few tricks of the laundry trade, hard-to-clean items can be washed at home for less.

Here’s how to clean delicate garments at home:

• For delicate items that are machine washable, use a mesh bag designed for laundry. Mesh bags help protect bras, lingerie and fine fabrics. To minimize irritation, turn clothing inside out and use the shortest, gentlest cycle available.

• For dry-clean-only clothing, use an at-home product like Dryel. Since Dryel uses a protection bag with a cleaning cloth, it works well for dark jeans and sweaters that are vulnerable to stretching. It can also save money on cumbersome items like curtains, throw pillows, bedding, even stuffed animals.

• Hand-wash clothing in cold water with mild detergent. Once you’re sure colors won’t bleed, use a spot remover on stains and scrub gently with your fingers. Linen, cotton, cashmere and polyester pieces can be washed by hand, but don’t hand-wash fabric like silk, velvet and taffeta.

• Unless using a dry cleaning kit, skip the dryer. Too much heat can ruin accents, embroidery and fibers. Instead, lay the item flat to dry on a white towel to avoid discoloring. If the garment was hand-washed, gently push out excess water using a towel before laying it flat to dry. Roll fabric between towels to dry as needed, but don’t twist or wring out delicate clothing.

• Be careful hanging wet fabric on racks or hangers; it may stretch and lose shape.

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