How to Launder Dry-Clean-Only Clothing at Home

POPSUGAR Photography | Sarah Lipoff
POPSUGAR Photography | Sarah Lipoff

You fall in love with a shirt only to flip the tag and see the dreaded words, "Dry-Clean Only." Instead of leaving it at the store, bring your new favorite item of clothing home with you without fear of dealing with the dry cleaner. Along with being a big bother to drop off clothes and then pick them up, dry-cleaning isn't the best for the environment — and getting clothes professionally laundered adds up!

Check the Material

Start by figuring out what type of material you're working with. Most store-purchased clothing items are already colorfast, but it's always smart to do a quick test to double-check hues won't fade or bleed before hand washing. And it's a good idea to spot treat with a gentle stain remover before giving a gentle cleaning.

How to Hand Wash

After you know what type of material you're working with, you can safely hand wash these items at home:

  • Cashmere: Your lovely cashmere sweaters can be hand washed with warm water and a gentle cleaner, like The Laundress's Wool and Cashmere Shampoo ($19). Hand wash in warm water, then dip in fresh cold water until the clothing item is free of soap. Cover a countertop with a soft, dry towel and lay the cashmere item flat to air-dry. Avoid wringing, rolling, or hanging, which will stretch the material.
  • Wool: Just like cashmere items, wool clothing can be hand washed, or machine washed on gentle in cold water for a cleaning when needed. Just like washing cashmere, lay flat and avoid hanging or wringing.
  • Leather: Use a damp cloth to clean jackets or pants, but avoid being too aggressive while cleaning, which can damage the surface.
  • Silk: Silk is a hard material to colorfast, so you might experience some fading while hand washing. Wash with a mild, natural soap, such as castile soap, in room-temperature water. Let the item soak for a few minutes and then lightly agitate with hands. Rinse with clean water, then hang dry on a padded hanger.

Try an At-Home Dry-Cleaning Kit

If you're still concerned about actually dunking your beloved clothing item in water, you can pick up a dry-cleaning kit ($20) that works with items that have linings, like business suits and velvet jackets. Follow the directions, and you're on your way to refreshed clothes.

You can also DIY your own dry-cleaning sheets and follow these directions for cleaning dry-clean-only clothes at home.