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DIY Dry Clean

There’s nothing worse than snagging a great outfit on sale before realizing it’s dry-clean-only. Even with coupons, dry cleaning can make a double-, or even triple-, digit dent in your budget. Plus, who wants to wear clothes that have been cleaned by a toxic-sounding solvent?  Avoid these unnecessary costs (so that you can buy more clothes, obviously!) by subscribing to these broke-girl-friendly, at-home alternatives to expensive professional dry cleaning.    

1. Be the dry cleaner — There are at-home kits you can buy at the supermarket, like Dryel, which cost about $7 and can be used a few times. Put three to four items in the Dryel bag, add in the cleaning cloth, and then throw the whole shebang into the dryer for about 30 minutes.  After, hang your items until they are fully dry, all while adding "Dry Cleaner" to your resume.  We've even got coupons

2. Put your hands to work — Wool, rayon, silk, and cashmere (we swear!) can all be hand-washed.  Invest in a gentle detergent (like The Laundress Delicate Wash) and a pair of gloves to protect your manicure. Here are some more specific instructions for each fabric: 

For wool, cashmere, alpaca, and angora — Use 100-degree water with gentle detergent to clean your item, and add a little distilled white vinegar into the water when you rinse.  After, lay the item flat and stretch it to its original size to dry. Be sure to keep it out of the sun.

For rayon — Cool water and detergent do the trick. Be careful not to twist or wring out the water, just press it out of the garment after rinsing. 

For silk — Swirl silk around in 100- to 120-degree water with some gentle detergent that has a neutral pH. Dry it by hanging indoors and avoiding the sun.  You may want to hang the item in a steamy bathroom to get out any wrinkles (instead of ironing).  Note: Avoid hand-washing multicolored silk since colors can bleed -- those items will have to be dry cleaned.

3. Dry clean once, launder later — A wise dry cleaner once told us that items labeled "Dry Clean Only" can usually be laundered after they’ve been dry cleaned for the first time.  Because the fabric sets after the first dry clean, it can later be washed using a gentle detergent, gentle wash cycle, cold water, and a low setting on the dryer.

4. Steam it up — You can steam clothes at home with a garment steamer, or you can even use your iron in a pinch.  The hardworking heat kills off microbes and wrinkles.

written by Kerry Quinn 

Oct 16, 2012 - 01:29 AM

DIY, dry cleaning, money-saving tips