How to wash 'dry clean only' at home?

Things You’ll Need

  • Dry cleaning kit, which contains stain remover, a dry cleaning bag, and dry cleaning sheets
  • Clothes hangers
  • Iron
  • Clothing steamer (optional)


Suede and Leather Care

While suede is not something that the Laundress ladies recommend doing a thorough cleaning of at home, there are some workarounds. For example, if needed, you can steam your suede clothes to remove wrinkles, freshen, and eliminate bacteria. But remember, you absolutely cannot iron suede, as ironing will crush or flatten the nap. For added fresh scent, spritz a fabric freshener, such as Fabric Fresh Classic, for a clean laundry scent and is made with ingredients that have antibacterial properties.

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Leather follows along the same long: if a leather item is labeled “not washable” or “dry clean only” don’t wash it at home. However, if a leather item is labeled washable, or is a non-leather item with leather trim, whether that be patches, collars, zip pulls, and binding, you can test them by doing a spot test on an inconspicuous area. To spot test, wet a clean, white, lint-free cloth and blot the item.

Look for discoloration, spots, or other changes once the area has dried. If these appear, do not wash it. If the item passes the test, you can proceed by turning it inside out and placing it into a mesh washing bag. Set your machine to the delicates cycle and make sure the water temperature is cold and the spin to low, and to wash with a detergent for delicates.

Or if you prefer to hand wash, fill a basin, sink, or tub with cool or cold water, add delicate wash and the item, swirl mixture with hands, then allow to soak for 30 minutes before rinsing and pressing water out with hands. Boyd reminds, “Don’t wring!”

Lay the item item in its natural shape on a drying rack or hang to dry. Be sure to position the item properly on a hanger to prevent stretching. Do not put in the dryer!

And to make sure you give your leather clothes that you washed the ultimate finish, steam to remove wrinkles and freshen between washes with a delicate spray.

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How Much Does Dry Cleaning Cost?

An average men’s shirt costs $1.85 to dry clean, while a woman’s shirt costs an average of $5. Suits cost $9.50 to $12.50 to clean, and long coats cost an average of $15. Women often pay more for their dry cleaning because their clothes are more likely to have special seams, extra buttons, trims, silk, and no-crease slacks that cost more to clean.

If you have a blouse or shirt that has a basic design, have your husband drop it off with his shirts. While the dry cleaner may still charge the higher price for female clothing, there is a chance that they will assume that it was your husband’s shirt and charge the lower price.

OPTION 4: Use a clothing steamer

Steam cleaning is a popular alternative to traditional laundering. While this method doesn’t work for heavily soiled clothes, it’s a great option for freshening up suits, dress shirts, and other items between wears. The heat generated from a clothing steamer kills bacteria on the fabric, which in turn prevents unwanted odors. As an added bonus, steaming also removes wrinkles.

Rather than investing in a clothing steamer, you can also use the “steam” setting on your iron and simply hold it a couple of inches away from the fabric.

Wash by hand or machine

Ready to wash your clothes? Pick your washing method carefully. Here’s how to deal with delicate duds.

To wash by hand

Start with a clean sink or basin when hand washing. Swish carefully in cold water to keep each article of clothing, especially sweaters and other knits, looking beautiful. Part of good care is selecting the right detergent for the job. Don’t automatically go for detergent you pour into your washer. A mild detergent will give far better results. Whether you favor a few drops of baby shampoo, a small amount of Woolite, or a squirt of Eucalan, it will treat your clothes more kindly. Drain the soapy water out, refill the basin for a cold water rinse and press out the suds till the water is clear.

        Credit:                      Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images / Tanya Lovus

Hand wash delicate clothing using a mild detergent instead of the stuff you usually pour in your washer. Treat them gently, or you might wish you’d taken your clothes to the cleaners.


To machine wash

Select a cold water delicate or wool cycle on your washing machine, and for best results, tuck each clothing item into a separate mesh bag. Pull your laundry out of the washing machine as soon as the cycle ends.

        Credit:                      Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images /bungoume

Some more delicate clothes are safe to machine wash if you put them in a laundry bag before you pop them in your washer. Turn them inside out before you do.

To dry

A delicate cycle can leave lots of water in the clothes. That’s on purpose—it doesn’t spin them hard. Step away from the dryer—these clothes are not going in there. Lay each wet garment on a towel. Roll up the towel with the clothing inside, pressing gently to remove water. Unroll the wet towel and move the garment to a dry towel. Then, lay it flat to dry.

OPTION 1: Use a dry-cleaning kit

A popular option for at-home dry cleaning is purchasing a ready-made kit that’s meant to be used with your dryer. First, use the included spot treatment to remove any stains. Next, place the clothing in the dryer with a pad that’s pre-soaked in cleaning solution and then dampened by the user. The heat from the dryer essentially steams the clothing so that it never needs to get wet.

There are plenty of readily available options for sale online, including the Dryel At-Home Mega Dry Cleaner Starter Kit and Woolite’s At-Home Dry Care Cleaner, both available on Amazon.


Miscellaneous Tips

One last tip for seasonal items that you might be putting away? Whiting reminds, “Launder your clothing with the appropriate detergent to prevent perfume, body products, body oil, food, and dirt from showing up later, which are much harder to get out. This also is true for starch. Do not store items that are starched.” Why? Because all of the above are a feeding ground for bugs.

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You can also keep your clothing fresh while laundering less frequently by using a steamer on high heat. Boyd says, “Steam works to eliminate odor-causing bacteria and release wrinkles. If you don’t own a steamer, then set an iron to the “steam” setting and hovering it over the item. Be sure you’re not making direct contact with the item, as pressing down on certain fabrics, like wool, can crush or damage the fibers.

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