Save Over $2000 A Year by Learning How To Dry Clean At Home
In 2008, Kash Shaikh, a manager of communications for the North American fabric care unit of Procter & Gamble, shocked us with the news that “Women spend $1,500 a year on dry cleaning, and 65 percent of those clothes are actually machine washable.” Imagine what that statistic looks like today, five years and a ton of inflation later. Actually, you don’t have to guess—the exact figure is $2,155, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. It’s time to be savvier about dry cleaning, and learn what and how to dry clean at home.
Rather than dry clean garments made from polyester, nylon, wool, cashmere, and pure shantung or dupioni silk, you can simply hand wash these delicates yourself using cold water and a splash of detergent. If you’re dealing with wool or cashmere, there are even specialty fabric shampoos that’ll really get the job done. Of course, you have to handle your clothes with care so as not to stretch or shrink the fibers, and, with the exception of silk, which needs to be hung, always lay garments flat to dry.
If what you value most about the dry cleaner's is the pressed, polished look of your favorite outfits when you ransom them, save yourself a ton of money (see above) and all that back-and-forth to the cleaners by investing in a steamer. Unlike metal irons, steamers never leave burn marks on your clothes, nor do they render them overly stiff. Plus, there’s no negotiating with ironing boards—a mini steamer requires zero set-up. It’s a great accessory to have on hand when you need to smooth out last-minute folds and wrinkles as you’re scurrying out of the house in the morning (but please, never steam clothes while you’re still wearing them, second degree burns are a lot more annoying than a telltale crease).
If you’ve got leather, suede, or fur pieces that have seen better days, there’s no avoiding it—accept your fate and hoof it to the dry cleaners. Based on New York Magazine's reviews of the top three at-home dry cleaners on the market, deeply set, large, or oil-based stains are also better left to the professionals. However, if you’ve got a piece of clothing you only wore to work once or twice, a garment sans sweat, lipstick stains or any seriously funky odors, why not dry clean it yourself for the whopping price of one dollar? Put the difference towards your seasonal wardrobe updates.
We cannot stress this enough: Home dry cleaning is really for items that are lightly soiled. Don’t waste time and energy on tops with multiple dark stains. However, if you’ve got some good clothing candidates, the process itself is pretty simple. Depending on which kit you use (we recommend Dryel) the steps vary slightly. This is the general formula:
1. Use a stain remover to spot-clean. Most dry cleaning kits come equipped with a small bottle or stain remover pen. Beware, some of these stain removers can cause discoloration, and you don’t want to scrub the fabric too vigorously, or you may warp it. We’d recommend buying a stain remover you trust and using that in lieu of the kit’s generic stain lifter. Tip: Dab deodorant stains with rubbing alcohol to remove white streaks before dry cleaning. At-home dry cleaners are notoriously ineffective when it comes to deodorant marks.
2. Place your clothes inside the dry cleaning bag. Two to four pieces at a time, depending upon their bulk. Abide by the golden rule of laundry: Clean with similar colors.
3. Place a dry cleaning sheet inside the bag and zip the bag shut. What exactly is on that dryer-activated cloth? A small amount of water, perfume, and an emulsifying agent. The emulsifying agent keeps the water and perfume dispersed within the cloth. When exposed to heat, the dry cleaning sheet lets off steam full of cleaning agents and fragrances.
4. Place the bag in the dryer.
5. Set the dryer to “delicate” for 15 to 30 minutes.
6. Remove your clothes from the dryer and immediately hang dresses, pants, silks, and jackets.
7. For a crease-free, professional look, steam your dry-cleaned items.
8. Store your dry-cleaned clothes apart from the rest of your clothes, in an airy space, to preserve their freshness and save yourself the hassle of cleaning and re-cleaning.
Click through the slideshow above for some natural stain removers that'll come in handy for step one.