Wash clothes yourself instead of dry cleaning

How to Wash Clothes Yourself Instead of Dry Cleaning

Manufacturers label their garments with washing and drying instructions to help ensure the piece lasts as long as possible. However, if you have a closet full of items that are labeled “Dry Clean Only,” you may want to look into a cleaning option that’s cheaper and more convenient. Many items with this label can be successfully washed at home using one of three methods: hand wash, gentle machine wash, or a home dry cleaning kit.

Hand wash

Read the label on the garment.

You can hand wash it gently if it’s wool, silk, or cotton. Avoid washing suede, leather, fur, feathers, and other extremely delicate fabrics. They should be taken to professional cleaning. You should also avoid hand washing garments that have multiple layers attached, even when the layers themselves are safe to hand wash separately. For example, a wool jacket with a lining and padding can lose its structure if washed by hand

Mix soap and cold water in a sink or bucket.

Use soap flakes or a mild detergent and agitate the water to create suds. Never use hot water on items that will be dry-cleaned. It damages the fibers and causes the fabric to shrink. Woolite® is an acceptable detergent for hand-washing wool.

Repeatedly dip the garment in soapy water.

Submerge it completely, then lift it out of the water to submerge it again. Use your fingertips to rub dirty areas, such as the armpits and collar. Don’t use anything that scrubs the clothing, as this could damage the fibers.

Rinse the garment.

Drain the soapy water from the sink and fill it with fresh cold water. Repeatedly dip the garment in clean water until it is free of soap or detergent.

Lay the garment flat on a clean, absorbent towel.

Roll up the towel with the piece inside and gently squeeze to remove the water. Unroll the towel again, place the garment where it is still dry, and roll the towel back up. Repeat the process three to five times until the garment stops dripping. Don’t wring the garment, as you could damage the delicate fibers.

Pull the garment back into shape and lay it flat to dry.

If it’s made of stiffer fabric that won’t distort when hung, hang it on a hanger to dry.

Machine wash

Read the label of the garment.

Reserve the gentle machine wash for items made from stiffer fabrics that won’t distort when moved. Cotton, linen and durable polyester can usually withstand machine washing.

Set your washing machine to the gentlest cycle.

The water should be cold, not warm or hot. Use a mild detergent to wash the clothes. For dry cleaning, wash your items on a gentle cycle.

Take the items out of the laundry as soon as the wash cycle is finished.

Lay them flat or hang them to dry.

“Refresh” at home

Purchase a kit to do a superficial touch-up at home.

These kits contain a bottle of stain remover, dry cleaning wipes and a dry cleaning pouch.

Read the tag on the garment!

Dry cleaning kits are not suitable for silk; they can be used for polyester fabrics and other delicate items that are not heavily soiled. If your garment is heavily soiled, it’s best to take it to a dry cleaner instead.

Remove the stains with the stain remover.

The stain remover with the dry cleaning kit is the same one you can buy separately at the store. Apply according to the included instructions. If you’re concerned that the stain remover might leave a mark on your clothes, do a stain test in an inconspicuous area first to make sure you can use it safely! Don’t use stain remover on large stains. If a stain extends over a large area of ​​your clothing, it’s best to take the garment to a dry cleaner rather than try to remove it at home.

Place the garment in the dry cleaning bag.

Add a dry cleaning cloth to the pouch. The cloth releases perfume and moisture to refresh the garment during the dry cleaning.

Put the bag in the dryer.

Start the dryer on the gentle cycle, ensuring it is set to low heat only. Remove the bag once the drying process is complete.

Hang the garment on a hanger.

As the garment airs, the creases should “unhook” and complete the dry cleaning process.


Some garments are labeled “Dry cleanable” or “Dry clean recommended”. You can machine or hand wash these items, but the manufacturer says the quality of the dry cleaning will extend the garment’s lifespan. Machine washing and drying clothes shorten the lifespan of all clothes. Dry-clean any item of clothing that is extremely important to you, regardless of the manufacturer’s washing instructions. However, there are a few materials that should never be dry-cleaned. These items say “no dry cleaning” on the label.


As a general rule, you should always dry clean acetate, leather, or suede garments and never attempt to wash them. Material that has a finish, e.g., B. something that makes it stiff, can only be dry cleaned. Some materials meant to be dry cleaned only, such as rayon, will shrink if you wash them wet by hand or machine. However, most things only shrink in the first wash. Never wash garments with delicate lace or beads or special pleats or embroidery intended for dry cleaning in the washing machine.


About the Author

Helen Miller

Helen Miller is a freelance writer at CouponKirin. She covers personal finance topics in a syndicated column that appears in Financial Planning Magazine. Her work has been featured by Market Watch, Digital Journal, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, and Yahoo Finance. Helen has a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of California, Los Angeles.