When to Dry Clean Your Clothes (And When Not To Bother)

dry clean guide

When to Dry Clean Your Clothes (And When Not To)

I love my clothes. If you ask them, they might not think I love them so much. I knock around, stain, rip, tear and even throw my clothes with general reckless abandon. They’re meant to be lived in, after all. What happens when you have to kiss and make up with your clothes the next day? Let’s talk about clothing care and when to dry clean your precious blouses and baby doll dresses…

When to Dry Clean

When the label says so. Most manufacturers keep it simple for you. If the tag says “Dry-Clean Only,” take it to the cleaners. If you’re on the West End of Richmond, try VIP Cleaners for quick and professional services.  If it only says “Dry Clean,” then that is only the recommended method, you might be able to take care of the mess you made at home. Keep scrolling for tips.

You ain’t got time for that. I’m a big fan of letting people do what they’re good at so you have more time to do what you’re good at. I hired an accountant, I let Shannon do my hair, and let Winc pick out my wine for me.  Sometimes I don’t have the patience, focus or energy to deal with the mystery stain on last weekend’s wedding outfit. I create a pile on the back of my door with my clothes and my boyfriend’s clothes that need a little extra attention. They’re not all dry-clean only, but they’ll get done a lot faster if I let the pros do it along with any alterations I need to take in. See this post for more info on alterations.

When you really love something. That vintage Bebe dress? That custom-made button down? The embroidered dress you splurged on this spring? Just don’t trust a machine to love these items as much an expert would. Especially do this if there is detailing like sequins, embroidery or intricate buttons because the label won’t always account for those. If you want to wear them again or even pass them down, dry clean the items!

Something smells. Be honest with yourself! Does that shirt have a smell to it? It might be beautiful and stain-free, but something got into the DNA of that shirt and will not come out. If you can smell it, so can your date. It’s time to dry clean! Dry Cleaners like VIP Cleaners have all the tools to remove smells. It won’t hurt to have a freshly pressed shirt, either.

dry clean tips

When not to Dry Clean

When it’s time to get rid of it anyways. Don’t waste your money taking clothes to the dry cleaner that you won’t wear any more. Just because it’s expensive or has a memory attached to it doesn’t mean you have to wear it for eternity. Similarly, if you’re on your second seam repair and there are parts of the item that are unraveling, donate it. I wouldn’t suggest taking your yucky items to donate, but organizations like Goodwill actually recycle old fabric. Do everyone a favor and give it a solid at-home clean, first.

When the labels leaves other clues. Generally silk, acetate, velvet, wool, and taffeta are fabrics that require a dry clean. Some tags will tell you NOT to dry clean and offer alternate instructions. Read the fine print. Cotton, linen, cashmere, polyester, acrylic, and nylon can usually be washed at home, though can be dry cleaned if you don’t want to do it yourself. If an item says you can machine wash, but you are feeling cautious, turn the garment inside out or place it in a mesh bag before your throw it in the washing machine.

If you’re feeling like Mr. Clean.  Want to try to clean that stain yourself? By all means. You may be really good at this. Often care instructions are for the fabric on on the label. I like to honor those as much as possible. For nasty stains like wine, lipstick, and ketchup, check out this quick tutorial I wrote for Sweetest Stitch’s blog. When you’re done working on a stain, throw it in the washing machine on a short, delicate cycle and check it when it’s done. If the stain still there, try the process again. Use cold water and avoid the dryer for really delicate items. Lay them on a towel to air dry in warm, dry area.

What are your clothing care tips?! Tell me in the comments below.