You are what you wear. And if you don’t think so, you may as well go naked… But since most of us live in societies where clothing is mandatory, and often a fun and expressive part of life, take care of what you wear. As winter dwindles down and our wardrobes kick into a new gear, know what you can and cannot dry clean, and where you can skimp and save on professional care.
1. Dry Clean vs. Dry Clean Only
Clothing that just says Dry Clean means it’s machine washable. Dry Clean Only objects need the care of a professional. As a rule, pieces that read Dry Clean Only are usually materials that don’t mix well with water, like rayon, silk, and linen.
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2. Hang up your clothes!
Do as your mother told you and hang clothes up if they can be worn again between washings. Half of the reason people take their clothes to the cleaners is for the pressing. Prevent wrinkles by hanging your clothes, not chucking them in a pile in the corner. And no more wire hangers! Pants and jeans hung over wire hangers develop a hard-to-get-out crease, while dresses and blouses often get stretched-out indent marks in the shoulders. Instead, use wooden or padded hangers, which are better for keeping the natural shape. Also invest in a steamer. A handheld one is only around $60. It’s easy to handle and will prevent you from visiting the cleaners every week.
3. Womens clothes cost more. Women often pay more to dry clean because they have more details, like ruffles, or beading, or trim that require hand cleaning and pressing. But, if you have plain, button-down shirts you should be able to be charged the same as a men’s shirt, so ask your cleaners.
4. Wash your sweaters and jeans by hand. Many clothing experts suggest caring for your cashmere and wool sweaters at home, because the solvents used in the dry cleaning process can be too hard on these fine fabrics. Hand wash sweaters in Woolite or the Wool & Cashmere Shampoo from The Laundress and lay flat to dry. And save dough on dry-cleaning your expensive denim by caring for it at home. The Laundress makes a special denim detergent aimed to soften denim, and they also have a Dark Wash detergent with a color guard to protect dark blue and black jeans. Don’t forget to air dry to avoid fading.