High quality garments often carry those little “Dry Clean Only” tags, and for some this can be a real drag. If you’re a busy mama with kids who somehow manage to always get their lunch on your shirt, or a busy guy or gal who just doesn’t have time for endless trips to the cleaners, that tag can be a total deal-breaker when you’re shopping for clothes. If you can relate, we’ve got some good news for you!
We’ve seen an increase in garments with “Dry Clean Only” tags, and in turn we’ve had many customers asking us, “Can I wash this?” The good news is that more often than not, the answer is “YES!” Here’s why: many clothing lines seem to be using the “Dry Clean Only” instruction as a way to ensure that the integrity of the fabric is maintained after cleaning. They can’t control how you care for the garment and therefore suggest you leave it to the professionals. But here’s the deal…you are MORE than capable of washing most of your “Dry Clean Only” garments at home (we believe in you!). Here’s what you need to know about what can/can’t be washed, and some tips for the best results:
What fabrics can be washed?
— Cottons & linens are an easy starting point as these fabrics can typically be washed in a machine on a normal cycle with a mild detergent and at varying temperatures. And don’t be afraid to tumble dry these fabrics (linen should be removed while still damp and hung to dry to finish)! | Try the Signature Wash by The Laundress $25/1ltr, available at Garys’ |
— Wool, cashmere, merino & angora – These fabrics will fare better if you take a little more care when washing them. They should be either hand-washed or washed using the hand wash cycle on an HE machine. Use cold water and a mesh bag to protect the garment. Press out any excess water and lay flat to dry — never throw these pieces in the dryer!
| Try the Wool and Cashmere Shampoo by The Laundress $20/16oz, available at Garys’ |
— Silks should always be placed inside out in a mesh bag and hand-washed or placed on a delicate cycle in your machine with cold water. Press out excess water and lay flat to dry.
|Try the Delicate Wash by The Laundress $20/16oz, available at Garys’|
— Synthetics like rayon, Lycra, spandex & modal follow the same wash instructions as silk but instead use tepid water and lay flat to dry or hang depending on the knit of the garment.
Fabrics NOT suitable for washing:
— Viscose & polyamide: Avoid washing these fabrics unless the label says otherwise.
— Suits & sport coats: Sorry guys, these should always be sent to the cleaners. However, provided the suit does not have an odor it really only needs to be cleaned once or twice a year – phew!
— Leather or leather trim: Your favorite leather jacket has a small food spot? Not a problem – take a damp rag and do a little spot cleaning. It’s been a few years and it’s starting to look a little tired or has some more serious staining? Send it to a leather specialist for proper cleaning and restoration. If you have a dry cleaner in town that specializes in leather, awesome! If you are like us and don’t have someone locally, we suggest sending it to Arrow Leathercare Services (recommended to us by one of our favorite leather manufacturers, Remy). | https://www.arrowcare.com
— Garments with embellishments like sequins or beading: Again, these types of garments can be spot cleaned in between wears but when it’s time for an all over refresh, send it to your trusty dry cleaner.
Bonus tips for laundering at home:
— It is best to pre-treat all stains before washing the garment…Apply a stain solution directly on the spot, working it into the fabric with your finger and then launder as normal.
— Invest in a steamer… A good steam is a great way to refresh your garment in between wears and reduces how frequently you need to wash it. This is an especially good rule of thumb for sweaters. | Here at the store we use this one: bit.ly/1ROh4Ep
— Pick up a trusty sweater comb…Certain fabrics pill, especially cashmere. If you have a sweater comb to de-pill some of these luxe fabrics, you will extend the life of the garment while keeping it looking good. | You can usually find one at your dry cleaners, or try this one: bit.ly/1l8tytD
— Stock up on mesh wash bags… It’s a good idea to have a couple of sizes in a mesh washing bag to protect your delicate garments at home. Choose ones with a zip closure and gusset bottom for added protection and movement. | The Laundress, $18 for a bundle of 1 small & 1 large bag, available at Garys’. |
We hope now that you have the knowledge and access to the right tools, you won’t let a pesky little “Dry Clean Only” tag deter you from purchasing an item you love. So buy that cashmere sweater you’ve been coveting and skip the unnecessary trip to the cleaners! Happy cleaning!
Here’s to great style!
Karla & The Garys’ Team