Dry Cleaning Your Clothes
In answering the common question “What should and what shouldn’t be dry-cleaned?” there is one universal answer that can be applied to all garments: Mostly everything can be dry-cleaned in moderation. When it comes to dry cleaning your clothes, the high drying temperatures and chemicals used in the dry-cleaning process can directly damage your garments or slowly decrease their lifespan.
So, while it may be easier to leave that suit with your trusted neighborhood dry cleaner rather than try to remove those unattractive creases yourself or to attempt to hand wash them yourself, be aware that in the process you’re ruining your clothes.
Here is a rundown of how those delicate garments should be laundered.
Dry cleaning your clothes isn’t a very beneficial option for getting stains out of your knitwear. The chemicals used in the dry-cleaning process will shorten the lifespan of knitwear — this holds especially true for cashmere.
Get it clean: Hand-wash your knitwear with a mild soap in warm water; it’s the only guaranteed way to maintain the softness and luster of the fabric.
Cotton dress shirts should only be dry-cleaned once every so often — unless, of course, you have the funds to keep replacing them. Frequently dry cleaning your dress shirts will deteriorate the fabric fibers, and the chemicals used will give your shirt an unsightly yellow tint.
Get it clean: Machine-wash and hang-dry your dress shirts. If you do take them to the dry-cleaner, specify that you want the garment hand-ironed rather than machine-pressed, and ask them not use any starch, as this lessens the lifespan of a shirt.
If you’re dry cleaning your clothes, know the three telltale signs of a bad dry cleaner…
The chemicals, solvents and high drying temperatures used in dry cleaning your clothes will deteriorate the threads and fabric of your suit over time. It is advised that your suit be dry-cleaned as infrequently as possible (only a handful of times a year) to lengthen its lifespan.
Get it clean: Dry-clean your suit once per season. In the meantime, clean any stains or spots on your suit by hand, using a mild soap and warm water. To get rid of any wrinkles, stretches and creases in your suit, invest in a clothes steamer. A steamer is easy to use and makes stretched-out or creased parts of a suit (like the elbows and knees) regain their natural shape and look as good as new.
Signs of a bad cleaner
You may be following all these dry-cleaning guidelines, but what good will they be if you’re dry cleaning your clothes with a bad cleaner? Here are three signs that you need to shop around for a new dry cleaner.
- Clothes fit differently: If garments are cleaned at the wrong temperature, the threads can shrink.
- Clothes look shiny: Fabric can become glossy if it has been crushed by hard-pressing.
- Clothes have indents: If imprints are visible around the pockets and buttons, it’s probably because of improper pressing techniques.
It’s important to ensure your clothes are clean and wrinkle-free before wearing them, but sending them off to the dry-cleaner’s every time you get a stain isn’t always the solution. There are many at-home options to remove stains and creases, and to keep your best threads in tip-top shape for as long as they’re fashionable.