Although we try to overlook the “dry clean only” tags on our favorite clothes, the cost of looking sharp is steep. We could easily blow $50 on a few blouses and dresses (five blouses at $6 each, plus two dresses at $12 apiece). If we did that once per month, it'd come out to over $600 each year.
But we don't. Instead, we follow these 6 rules:
1. Don’t Overdo It.
Only dry clean items like wool coats once per year. Between wears, use a garment brush to get rid of surface dirt.
2. Freshen Up.
Spot-clean stains with an instant stain remover stick. To remove stray odors and daily dirt from lighter pieces like slacks and blouses, use products like Dryel or Woolite’s Dry Cleaner's Secret.
3. Do It Yourself—The Right Way.
Wash some “dry clean only” items by hand. Use cold water and a gentle soap like facial cleanser or Dove dishwashing liquid. To start, dip your fabric in and out of the sudsy water. Then, use your fingertips to scrub problem areas like underarms and necklines.
4. Care About After-Care.
Roll your clean item tightly in a bath towel. Unroll, move your piece to a dry area, and do it until your it stops dripping. Make sure not to twist or wring it. When you're done, give each item a gentle shake. Then, reshape clothes with stretchy fabrics, like sweaters, on a flat surface. Hang up blouses and dresses by the shoulders; never put these clothes in the dryer. If a piece is made out of natural fibers like silk or wool, make sure that your drying rack is away from direct sunlight.
5. Press Your Advantage.
If your self-washed clothes still have some wrinkles, consider having the dry cleaners press them. We like doing this to get the wrinkles out of our self-washed blouses. At our dry cleaner, pressing a blouse saves $3 over getting it fully cleaned, and pressing a dress saves $6.
6. Know When NOT To Go It Alone.
Don't skimp on the cleaners if it means ruining your clothes. Do not launder your stuff at home if your clothes:
- Include acetate fibers.
- Are made out of rayon, leather, or suede.
- Are very structured, like a suit, or have lots of pleating.
- Have labels that says not to iron professionally.
- Are new and you’ve never self-washed clothes with that fiber before.
- Have texture that's important to you, as in silk.
- Have stains you can’t get out on your own.
Keep it fresh!
*If you use these tips to cut your monthly dry cleaning expenses in half.
**If you are 25 today and retire at age 65. We calculated that number here.
LearnVest Living: Helping Your Leather Goods Go The Distance