How To Wash “Dry Clean Only” Clothing: Easy DIY Methods

how to wash dry clean only clothing

Many of the garments that you own today come with a “dry clean only” tag. Given that synthetic and mixed fabrics tend to be more delicate, they need special care when using as well as washing them.

But, the good news is you don’t always need to send these clothes to the laundry. There are several ways how you can wash dry clean only clothing in your home and save big on your laundry costs. Here’s a brief DIY guide on cleaning your dry clean only clothes.

What Does “Dry-Clean Only” Actually Mean?


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When you see a “Dry-Clean Only” tag on your clothes, it’s the brand manufacturer’s way of informing you that the most recommended and safest way of washing your garment is through dry-cleaning.

Dry-cleaning doesn’t mean that your clothes won’t get wet when cleaned. When you send your clothes to the laundry for “dry cleaning,” the cleaners will still get the material wet. The only difference is they don’t wash the clothing using water and detergent but instead use a chemical solvent called perchloroethylene.

This solution is what removes the stains, grease, and dirt. It is also the same chemical that leaves behind an industrial scent when you pick up your freshly dry-cleaned clothes.

Is It Bad To Wash Dry Clean Only Clothing?

Washing your dry clean only clothing is not necessarily bad for the fabric, but it does come with some risks.

The manufacturer recommends a particular washing methodology to ensure that the fabric doesn’t get damaged. In most cases, using regular cleaning methods for dry clean only clothing is safe, but it can lead to color fading, discoloration, and even shrinkage.

How To Wash Dry Clean Only Clothing


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#1. Hand Washing

The first method for washing dry clean only clothing at home is to hand wash them. It’s a simple process and you often only need things that are readily available in your home.

Step 1: Prepare your wash area. This can be a bucket or your sink equipped with a stopper.
Step 2: Fill this container with warm or room-temperature water.
Step 3: Add a gentle laundry detergent. Dish soap or hair shampoo is also a workable alternative. Don’t use your regular laundry detergent.
Step 4: Add your dry clean only clothes, and use your hands or a wooden spoon as an agitator for your load. Make sure that you start the squishing, churning, and squeezing until the water and the fabric gets soapy.
Step 5: Rinse the clothes separately in clean water and transfer them to another basin or receptacle. Do this repeatedly until the water no longer shows any signs of soap.
Step 6: Hang your clothes to dry naturally.

#2. Using The Washing Machine

If you want to use your washing machine, your washing machine needs to have an “express” feature or setting to make this possible. If your device doesn’t have one, it’s best to hand wash your clothes instead.

Once you confirm that your machine has this feature, here are the steps you can follow:

Step 1: If there are any stains on your garments, apply a stain remover to the specific area while the clothing is still dry.
Step 2: Put the soiled garment in a mesh bag.
Step 3: Add in a gentle laundry detergent using your detergent dispenser or add it directly to your washing machine, depending on your machine’s features.
Step 4: Run your load following your washing machine’s express cycle. This mode agitates your clothes in less time.
Step 5: Hang your clothes to dry naturally.
Step 6: To remove the wrinkles, use a steamer.

#3. At-Home Dry Cleaning Kits

One of the best options for washing your dry clean only clothing, at-home dry cleaning kits are now more easily accessible. You can conveniently purchase one from pharmacies, supermarkets, and big-box stores.

These at-home dry cleaning kits include an initial spot treatment for any stains on your clothes. You then place a damp pad that has a cleaning solution in your dryer. The heat streams this solution and proceeds to remove the stains.

However, these kits do not work on oil-based stains, including body-produced stains, but you can count on them to freshen your clothes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Happens If You Wash Dry Clean Only?

The likely consequence of washing dry clean only clothes would be significant shrinkage of your garments. Some clothes shrink up to 2 to 3 sizes while drapes can even shrink to half their size.
So, if your fabric says “Dry Clean Only,” try to stick to it as much as possible. But if you can’t, wash your clothes with gentle soap and cold water.

Can You Hand Wash Dry Clean Only Silk?

Silk is a delicate fabric and incorrectly washing it can cause it to shrink.

While you can hand wash silk using a gentle soap and cold water, if anything goes wrong, you won’t be able to get a refund or a replacement.

Can You Steam Dry Clean Only Clothes?

Steaming is an effective method if your dry clean only clothes are not too dirty. Steaming can extend the number of times you can wear your clothes until they need to be properly washed.
Steaming is also great for controlling the odor and killing germs without using any chemicals.

How Do I Dry Clean At Home Without A Kit?

You can still dry clean at home even if you don’t have an at-home dry cleaning kit. All you need is a mesh bag if you plan to use your washing machine, a stain remover of your choice, and laundry soap.

Follow these steps on dry cleaning at home:

  • Pre-treat any stains on your dry-clean clothes.
  • Place all your dry-clean-only clothes inside a mesh bag to avoid your delicate garments getting stretched or snagged in the laundry drum.
  • Add gentle soap flakes into your washing machine.
  • Let your fabrics soak in warm soapy water for 20 minutes while manipulating the clothes using your hands about 2-3 times.
  • Swap out the water for cold water.
  • Swish the clothes around until no traces of soap remain.
  • Hang your laundry to dry naturally.

Featured image source: Pinterest.com

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