Diana off Duty

Yes, you can wash 'dry clean only' clothes at home. Here's how.

Yes, you can wash 'dry clean only' clothes at home. Here's how.

Did you know that ‘dry clean only’ clothes aren’t necessarily dry clean only? They just need a little more TLC when it comes to washing them.

I was talking to a friend of mine (hi, Teddy) recently and she was telling me that she needs to go to the dry cleaner’s to have a silk shirt washed. And it dawned on me that most people aren’t as lazy as me and do actually have their clothes drycleaned. But not me. I wash most of my clothes at home. 


So whether you don’t have time to go or just want to save some bucks, here’s how to wash most of the ‘dry clean only’ clothes you have.

When I'm deciding whether I should wash something at home or leave it for the professionals

  • Is it stained?
  • Is it structured (wool and linen blazers, for example)
  • Is it a patterned fabric and does any of the colours bleed?

is it stained?

You could usually take most stains out of your clothes (I took a red hair dye stain out of a silk top by myself), but I would generally prefer to leave that to the professionals. However, I am yet to give a stained piece of clothing for drycleaning. I prefer to remove them myself if they aren't too visible and if I caught them while they were 'new'. In fact, the only stain I have ever removed myself has been the red hair dye one. I worked extremely quickly and managed to soak the stained part in a soapy water mixture (I had nothing else near me). I then handwashed the garment as described below. I don't think I would've managed to remove the stain if I wasn't as quick as I was. Anyone who has ever had to deal with red hair dye is going to understand.

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is it a bigger this? (winter jackets, coats and stuff like that)

I prefer having my winter jackets dry cleaned, just because it’s easier. They are heavy and take forever to dry and I just don’t have the space at home to have a random coat handing around.

is it a structured item? (wool and linen blazers as well as anything with shoulder pads)

The best approach for structured items like coats and blazers with shoulder pads is to dry clean them or not wash them at all. It is generally suggested to only treat the spots on them. However, I wash those at home on the hand wash setting of my washing machine or with the method below, depending on the fabric.

always check if the colours bleed.

I cannot stress how important that is. Especially for silk or pattered fabrics with multiple colours on them. You could ruin the item or the whole load, if you wash them together with other things.

how to test if a fabric is going to bleed?

If the clothing is a solid colour, just wash it with similar colours and you won’t have an issue. However, if it is patterned or has more than 1 colour on it, you need to do the following:

Find an inconspicious area, like a hem, and submerge it in warm water. If you aren’t able to submurge it, wet a clean, white, lint-free piece of fabric and blot the item. If dye releases into the water or on the piece of fabric, it’s best to have the item washed separately or to simply have it drycleaned. 

How I wash silk, wool and cashmere at home.

If there is a stain – work on that first. 

If not - turn your garment inside out and mix a gentle liquid detergent with cool water. You can use baby shampoo, I have used my Moroccan oil Hydrating shampoo as well as a normal Ariel liquid detergent, they both work great. 

You would then submerge the item and leave it there for about half an hour. Swirl it gently around, no vigorous washing, maybe a few presses. To rinse it off, run it under cool water until it rinses clean.

When you’re done, don’t wring the fabric, but press it firmly with your hands or against the sink. Then put the garment on a clean, dry towel and roll it up to further squeeze the excess water out of it. Finally, hang it to dry or preferably, lay it flat in its natural shape. 


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