Skip The Dry Cleaner And Learn How To Get The Same Effect On Your Clothes At Home

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The world of laundry can be more complex than most people think. Some clothes are better hand-washed, some are safe to be tossed into the washing machine, and some are meant for dry cleaning. But are these distinctions important? How different is dry cleaning, really?

At home with your washing machine, you're probably used to a straightforward process: Just place your laundry inside, press go, and unload them when they're rinsed and ready to dry. But some fabrics — like silk, cashmere, and wool — are compromised when they come into contact with water. Enter dry cleaning, which removes pollutants and stains from your clothes by soaking them in a chemical solvent instead of water and detergent, per Rinse. Your clothes are then spun in a dry cleaning machine to remove excess solvent and dried with warm air. 

Given the technology involved in the cleaning process, professional dry cleaning is a great way to have your clothes properly cleansed and pressed, especially for valuable pieces or special occasion outfits. However, USA Today notes that many clothes are labeled "for dry cleaning only" as a precaution and can actually be washed at home, sparing you a trip to a dry cleaner and tons of money. Here are some tips for dry cleaning your clothes at home and achieving professional results.

Buy or make a dry cleaning kit

There are numerous dry cleaning kit brands available on the market that you can purchase to freshen up dirty clothing right at home. These kits come with everything you need to pre-treat stains and clean clothes. For example, the Dryel At-Home Dry Cleaner Starter Kit includes a booster spray for soiled areas, specially-treated cleaning cloths, and a reusable cleaning bag to keep your clothes intact in the dryer. 

Or, if you prefer a DIY approach, you can concoct your own at-home dry cleaning mix the way fashion designer and YouTuber Angelina McCullar does in a video for her channel, BlueprintDIY. In her video, McCullar talks about making your own dry cleaning formula using one cup of warm water, ¼ cup of vinegar, one teaspoon of Borax, one teaspoon of oxygen bleach, and a couple of drops of lavender essential oil. Soak a cleaning cloth in the solution, and place the damp cloth into a bag or zip-top pillowcase with about three dry cleaning items. Put the bag in a tumble dryer on medium heat for 30 minutes, where the heat will steam clean the clothes.

Use your dry cleaning kit strategically

While you can dry clean a number of clothes at home, some items aren't well-suited to your kit. For starters, steer clear of materials like suede and leather, Jessica Ek from the American Cleaning Institute tells Byrdie. Instead, she recommends these temperamental materials be left to professionals.

In other cases, you might be surprised to find that certain items don't require dry cleaning at all, even when it comes to delicate clothes. With the right steps, you may be able to safely clean your delicates without a dry cleaning kit. According to laundry expert Patric Richardson (via Apartment Therapy), you can even wash wool or wool-like fabrics in a washing machine. As he advises, you can clean delicate clothes with a washing machine by loading them into a mesh bag and choosing a gentle laundry soap instead of harsh detergent for the cleaning solution. Use the delicate wash cycle, cold water, and a low spin. Make sure to remove all stains with a stain remover before washing, and always hang delicate garments to dry instead of using a dryer, as this prevents your clothes from shrinking.

So if you're looking for ways to dodge the dry cleaners without sacrificing the hygiene of your wardrobe, there you have it. Use these tips to help you freshen up delicate clothing at home and save some bucks!