I'm a laundry pro & yes, you can wash ‘dry clean only’ items at home – here’s how to decode the label | The Sun

I'm a laundry pro & yes, you can wash ‘dry clean only’ items at home – here’s how to decode the label | The Sun

August 22, 2022

SPILLS and stains are unavoidable, but when you make a mess of your favorite "dry clean only" shirt, it's easy to feel dismayed.

Luckily, you don't need to visit your laundromat to wash these clothes at home, as long as you can decode the care instructions on the label.

According to the experts at USA Today, you can follow a step-by-step process to determine how to care for a garment marked "dry clean only."

There are a few types of clothing you should leave to the professionals, as some materials are too delicate to clean at home.

"Pay careful attention to the type of fabric that your garment is made of, because that will help you determine how you should proceed," the experts warned.

Leather, fur, and down – animal-derived materials – are some of the fabrics you do need to trust your dry cleaner to handle.

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Velvet, taffeta, and rayon are also off-limits, and if you're trying to remove a severe, oil-based stain, that's a job for the pros, too.

But wool, silk, linen, polyester, and cotton are all "fair game for home washing," the experts explained.

Before you get started on cleaning the garment, do a spot test with water, detergent, and a cotton swab.

"Drip a small amount of water (and perhaps the detergent you plan to use) onto a small, unseen portion of your garment, then rub a cotton swab across the area," the experts said.

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If the cotton swab comes away stained with the fabric dye, stop: this garment needs to be dry-cleaned.

But a clean cotton swab means you're in the clear to wash the item yourself.

Delicate items can be washed by hand in the sink or a large bowl.

"Fill the tub with cold water and add a small amount of a mild detergent, like Woolite," the pros instructed.

Stir the solution until suds appear, then dip your garment into the mixture. Once it's saturated, keep the garment in the water and gently scrub at stains with your fingertips.

"When you feel confident that the garment is clean, empty the sink or basin and fill it with cold water, this time without soap," the experts said. "Dip the item in and out of the water until it's no longer soapy."

If your garment is cotton, linen, or durable polyester, you may be able to wash it in your machine – but it's best to reserve this method for set-in stains.

To machine-wash, turn the garment inside out and place it in a mesh bag designed for delicates.

"Machine wash them on cold with a mild detergent, using the gentlest cycle available," the experts said.

No matter how you wash your clothing, never use the dryer for dry-clean-only items. "That dreaded machine will only transform your dry-clean-only garments into tiny, saggy shadows of their former selves," the professionals warned.

Instead, grab a towel and prepare to dry it by hand.

"To dry the garment, lay it on a towel," the experts instructed. "Roll up the towel with the clothing inside, squeezing gently to remove water.

When it's started to saturate the towel, unroll it and move the garment to a dry section, then repeat.

Once you've done this up to five times, you can lay the garment flat to dry.

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