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Taking Care of Dry Clean Only on a Machine Wash Budget

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I used to avoid buying anything that said "Dry Clean Only" on the label.  My budget just will not stretch far enough to pay for dry cleaning every time I want to wear something, so it was best to just avoid buying those things.

But I have learned that most of the things labeled Dry Clean Only can actually be washed either by hand or in the washer.  First thing is to know the fiber content and know if that fiber is safe to wash.  Then understand the characteristics of the fiber content and you will know why it's labeled Dry Clean Only. 

Is it 100% cotton?  Well, we all know that cotton is washable, so it was probably not preshrunk, which means you will want to wash it in cold water and hang it to dry and keep it far far away from the dryer. 

Does it have embroidery?  That's why the dry clean label.  Once again, keep it far away from the dryer because it will pucker up, but it's washable if the fabric content is washable.  I have a hand wash cycle on my washing machine, so I use that for all of my hand washables.  If you don't have a hand wash cycle, you might consider hand washing in the sink and then put it in the washer right before the spin cycle of the gentle cycle, or use the gentle cycle, depending on how gentle it is and your item.

Is it 100% polyester?  Well, that's washable too and shouldn't shrink, but the texture may change when you wash it and I still would not put it in the dryer.

How about wool?  You've always heard that you can't wash wool.  Well, why not?  Where does wool come from?  Sheep, right?  Do sheep shrink when they are out in the rain?  I don't think so, LOL!!  So why does wool shrink when you wash it?  Warm water will shrink it a little, but the dryer will shrink it more.  So, once again, you can wash wool, in cold water, on delicate cycle, but it will "shed" in your washer.  There will be a lot of lint left behind.  I have a couple of nice wool "camping" blankets that belonged to my grandparents and I have washed them several times.... and I do put them in the dryer because it doesn't matter to me that they shrink.  If it were a skirt of jacket, I would not put it in the dryer.  But if you want your wool clothing to remain exactly like they were when you bought them, it's safer to just stick to dry cleaning for them.  I suppose a lot would depend on how much you paid for the article too.  So use your own descretion about whether to wash it or not.

I have a dress that is made of acetane, I think is the fiber, and I decided to chance washing it instead of dry cleaning it.  When it came out of the washer it looked all shriveled up and I thought for certain I had ruined the dress.  But I hung it up to dry and as it dried, the fabric relaxed and went back to the way it was before I washed it.  I was very releaved!!

Rayon is washable too.  It wrinkles badly when you hang it to dry, so I put it in the dryer for just about 5 minutes or so to heat it up and then pull it out and hang it up and then it isn't so wrinkled and is much easier to iron.

If you are uncertain about a fabric content and if it is actually washable or not you can google it and should be able to find some information on it.

Well, that's how I take care of my dry clean only items on a machine wash budget.  Use your own descretion and follow my tips at your own risk.  Ultimately it is your decision to make on how to best take care of your clothes.

Please add your comments below.  You do not have to be a member of Addoway to leave a comment for me and others to read.  If you know of something that you ruined by washing, please share that information with us.
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Reader Comments  (5)

Royal Presence
Royal Presence | May 8th 2013 at 1368052853

I also wash most things instead of dry cleaning, except for something that has a
lining. I hang everything out to dry outside, not only because I like it, but I don't have a dryer, plus it smells better.

I also have washed hand embroidered items. This is easy to do, but to iron (the only time I will iron), one has to put a damp cloth over the item and then iron. It will restore your hand embroidered cotton or linen items.

I haven't learned how to wash neckties yet though.
Donna's Stuff & More
Donna's Stuff & More | May 8th 2013 at 1368063502

I really prefer washing over dry cleaning. They reuse those chemicals and who knows what was in there before! LOL Dryers aren't good for most fabrics, in my opinion. Great tips, Debbie!
Jewelrywiz | May 11th 2013 at 1368277704

since the 1970's i have washed everything that says dry clean only in cold water and woolite - works great on everything! I really dont pay attention to those dry clean only labels - I cant afford dry cleaning - so I have 2 tips - dont buy anything that says dry clean only - and you can wash anything in cold water and woolite | May 13th 2013 at 1368449497

Back in my younger days, I avoided dry clean only because it added one more chore to my never-ending list. I also hung everything outside. Nothing like a towel or sheets that have dried in the sun. I even ironed. I quit all that when my husband died. Now I dun got too ole to worry about it

I hope you guys had wonderful Mother's Days!!!!!!
no photo
Mary Jean | May 13th 2013 at 1368479275

I have to wash almost everything I buy online since most sellers either smoke or have cats and find the items to arrive depressed.

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