You Don't Really Have To Dry Clean Your Clothes

Laundry has been a hot topic of late, namely how to improve the efficacy of your wash and refrain from ruining your favorite ensembles during the cleansing process. Now, it may even be possible to take the process a step further and care for dry clean only clothes at home, without laying waste to your favorite delicate items. Instead of entrusting your most valued satin slip dresses and silk blouses to a dry cleaner, cleaning your clothing may be as simple as walking to your laundry room and breathing new life into clothes with store-bought detergent and spot treatment.

The dry cleaner has always been somewhat of a mystery to me, between what chemicals each business uses to vanish stubborn spots and restore clothing's original luster. Paired with the rumors that many dry cleaners utilize unsavory and toxic chemicals to clean clothing, it seems that tending to stains at home would be a much more prudent idea — if I only had any idea how to do so. With the goal of avoiding the dry cleaner for the foreseeable future, I caught up with Research and Development Specialist and ‎Senior Scientific Communications Manager for Proctor & Gamble Mary Johnson to ask her several questions about exactly how young professionals on the go can launder their delicate clothing at home.

1. Cashmere Can Be Hand Washed

It's not always the case, but Johnson advises you check the care label before laundering cashmere as some cashmere garments can be washed at home. If the label indicates that you're good to go, hand wash using a mild detergent like Tide Free & Gentle liquid. Gently squeeze the water through the garment and rinse until the water runs clear. Do not wring or twist! Squeeze out excess water. To dry, lay flat on a towel and roll up the towel with the garment inside. Remove and lay on a clean dry towel, away from sunlight or heat until completely dry.

Tide Free & Gentle Liquid Detergent, $21, Amazon

2. That Silk Stain May Not Be Permanent

If you've got a nasty spill on your fancy silk dress, pre-treat the stain before washing per the manufacturer’s instructions. Then, dampen a towel with a watered down solution of a detergent specifically for delicates (like Tide Free & Gentle liquid) and pat onto stain. Blot stain with clean towel to soak up excess moisture and stain. Repeat as needed alternating damp and dry towels until stain is gone. Then, wash inside out in cool water as per manufacturer’s instructions.

3. When In Doubt, Go Inside Out

For any washable garments that are stained, Johnson advises you turn the garment inside out from stain. Run cool water from the faucet through the stain to try to “push” the stain out. If the stain persists, pre-treat the stain as noted above alternating damp and dry towels then wash as per manufacturer’s instructions.

4. Always Pre-Treat Your Stained Stuff

Rinse in cold water to dilute stains, pretreat or soak in a gentle detergent solution.

5. Pens Are Your Friends

For two of the toughest stains to get out are coffee and red wine. They also happen to be two of the things I spill on myself most often. But Johnsons says fear not! There's a way to get even the most stubborn stains out without taking your stuff to the dry cleaner. First, check manufacturer’s instructions to determine if clothes are machine washable.

For wine, rinse in cold water to dilute the stain, pre-treat with a liquid detergent by pouring it all over the stain and letting set for 20 minutes. Then, wash in warm water. Add a Tide Boost if you want to get extra fancy.

Tide Boost, $15, Amazon

For coffee, if available use a Tide-to-Go pen for on-the-go removal. At home, soak in solution of cold water and liquid detergent for 20 minutes. Then, wash as per manufacturer’s instructions. The stain should slide on out!

Tide-To-Go Pen, $5, Amazon

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