Keeping your clothes stain-free is a hard task. From sweat smell, lily pollen, nail polish, foundation and even wax, the troubles are endless. While some clothing items will always require professional care, many fabrics can actually be freshened at home. Dry-clean clothes are certainly no exception here.
The thing is, you can actually dry clean many of your clothes without much effort or expense in the comfort of your own laundry room once you know how to do it. As such, below, you will learn exactly that and how to deal with different types of fabrics.
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What is dry cleaning, and can you do it at home?
Contrary to what the name suggests, the clothes do not stay dry in the dry cleaning process. Instead, your clothes become wet, but not with water. Instead, they get wet with Perchloroethylene, or Perc, which is a cleaning and degreasing solvent that’s been around for decades.
They’re then washed in giant washers similar to the ones you have at home. Such machines come in various brands and models, but their principles and functions are essentially the same. They have a motor-driven dryer with a spinning, perforated stainless-steel basket that holds 9 to 45 kg of clothes.
There is a steady flow of clean solvent from the pump and filter system while the clothes revolve in the perforated basket. It is constantly sprayed into the basket and chamber, soaking the clothes as well as gently dropping and smashing them against baffles in the cylinder.
The dirty liquid is continuously pumped through the filter and recirculated free of any dirt that may have accumulated. When you want to dry clean at home, however, the process is slightly different.
You’ll need to use water and mild detergent instead of chemical agents. Fabrics like wool, silk, rayon and others are typical dry-cleaning suspects, and all can also be washed at home.
Read the labels on your clothes
Look for the label with care instructions, usually located on an inner seam on your clothing item. Each label should state the type of fabric as well as up to five symbols indicating how to care for it.
It is essential to follow these symbols as different fabrics always have different requirements and may need special care. If you have an item with the label “Dry Clean Only,” you should take it to the cleaning service. Otherwise, you can probably wash anything at home if it simply says “Dry Clean.”
Dry cleaning by hand-cleaning
Before you start, look for an area on your item of clothing that is not quite visible and pour a few droplets of water on it. Rub the water across the surface with a cotton swab and check to see if any colour was lost during the process.
If you end up with colour bleeding, you’ll need to take it to the dry cleaners. If not, then go ahead, and you can simply start the procedure at home. Let’s take a look at the different types of fabric you will be dealing with:
- Silk is more difficult to clean at home, but it is still possible. If you want to clean it yourself, you’ll need a silk detergent that’s designed for lingerie or silk sheets. It should be washed in cool soapy water.
- Fill a tub or sink halfway with water and a tiny bit of mild detergent (or silk detergent, if you have it). Hand-wash your clothes gently in under thirty minutes, as silk deteriorates when exposed to water for long periods of time. Allow the silk item to dry for at least 10 hours.
- Woollen clothes should be washed in cold water. “Felting,” which occurs when wool fibres become matted together during washing, is the biggest issue in washing wool at home. To avoid such problems, wash wool clothing with a delicate touch in a tub filled with water.
- Clean cashmere, angora, and other wool fabrics with a cleaner like Woolite. Wool clothes should not be washed in the washing machine since the agitation will likely result in felting and shrinkage.
- When washing cashmere, stay away from detergents that contain a lot of chemicals and always choose all-natural products. Plus, wool clothes should always be dried flat.
- Use cold water to hand-wash your linens with a moderate detergent. After that, let your linens dry. You should press them immediately after washing.
- If you don’t press them right after hand-washing, they may wrinkle. You can air-dry your linens on a clothesline.
Suede and leather
- Suede clothing can be steamed to remove any wrinkles and to refresh and kill bacteria. However, you must not iron such fabric because ironing can crush or flatten the nap. Do not wash leather items that are labelled “not washable” or “dry clean only” at home.
- You can test a leather item that is labelled washable or a non-leather item with leather trim, such as patches, collars, zip pulls, and binding, by completing a spot test on an inconspicuous place. Wet a clean, white, lint-free cloth and blot the item.
- Once the area has dried, look for discolouration, patches, or other changes and do not wash it in such cases. Fill a bowl, sink, or tub halfway with cool water and few drops of dish soap.
- Swirl the mixture with your hands, and soak your item for a maximum of 30 minutes before washing. Once done, it is vitally important that you should never wring it out as this can damage the fabric.
- To ensure that your freshly washed leather clothes have the best possible finish, you can always freshen between washes with a mild spray.
Dry cleaning by using your washing machine
You can machine wash an item of clothing that says “Dry Clean” if it is composed of cotton, polyester, nylon, or spandex. Although wool, silk, and linen are best washed by hand, as we stated above, you can still use your machine’s hand-wash cycle. Consider the following tips:
Treating multi-fabric items
- If you have an item that is made up of several fabrics, treat it as if it were made entirely of the more fragile fabric. Generally, sophisticated clothing with many fabrics and elaborate designs should be left to the dry cleaners.
- Tops with sequins that are embellished are difficult to wash at home. Rayon and viscose should be dry cleaned at all times.
- Place your delicates in a separate cleaning bag or a mesh bag. When you want to use your machine for clothes that you regularly take to the dry cleaner, always go with the cold water option. Avoid hot water at all costs as warmer temperatures might cause issues such as shrinking or deformed clothing.
Choose the shortest cycle available
- Delicate fabrics, such as silk do not benefit from prolonged water exposure. When it comes to the pace and power with which your clothes are washed, washing machines provide various options.
- Choose between gentle or delicate cycles and always avoid the “normal” and “permanent press” cycles, as they are not soft enough for delicates.
Keep an eye on your load mix
- Rather than washing everything together, you should wash silk with silk and wool with wool. Instead of adding towels or other things, stay consistent and only combine all of your delicates into one load at a time.
- Light colours should be washed with other light colours, rather than darks and whites in the same load.
- Avoid the dryer at all costs since it will most certainly cause the items to shrink or become deformed. You can air dry on a clothesline. If you’re drying wool, place the item on a drying rack or hang it to dry in its natural state.
- To avoid stretching, make sure the item is properly hung on a hanger. Also, wool items should be air-dried away from heated locations since they may shrink if exposed to too much heat.
How to remove dirty spots and stains
As a general rule, clean your clothes on the spot. For delicate items, use a microfibre cloth and a delicates-specific cleaning detergent, such as a silk detergent or a brand with the word “delicates” in the name.
Dampen the cloth with warm water and a small amount of the cleaning agent. Squeeze the cloth to eliminate any excess water and then dab the stained areas of the clothes.
You can also remove hard stains and body oils with soda water. Dampen a clean cloth with soda water and then rub it over the affected area, adding more soda water along the way as needed. Always remember to remove stains as soon as they happen. Once the stain sets, it will be increasingly difficult to treat it.
That’s basically all you need to know to make sure you can dry clean your clothes and go the DIY way at home without having to take them to a professional dry cleaner. Just remember to always read the care label beforehand and determine what fabric you are dealing with!