Hand Washing Dry Cleanables

Updated on February 18, 2009
L. asks from Mobile, AL
13 answers

Hi all,

I'm looking for advice from thrifty, environmently conscious folks out there. I'd like to start hand-washing my "dry clean only" sweaters because I'd like to avoid the chemicals and the cost! Before I dive in, do you have any tips? Can I throw them in the delicate cycle in my delicates bags and lay them out to dry, or should I really hand wash? Any fabrics I should absolutely not wash? I don't know if it makes any difference, but our washing machine is the old, top-loading style.

Thanks for your tips!

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answers from Little Rock on

I use Dryel...it keeps them super clean and fresh with just a light ironing on some of my pants and such. I only take things to the dry cleaners once a season or so just so they get professionally pressed and all. And then try to find the discount day!

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answers from Hattiesburg on

I use Dryel for things that are dry clean only.
If it says to hand wash, I have found that putting it on delicate cycle in the washing machine and laying it flat to dry works just as well.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I use Woolite for all of my wool and cashmere sweaters. I bought a mesh drying screen at Bed, Bath and Beyond. It dries a lot faster than laying things flat to dry on the dryer or a table because the item gets air from above and below. After you have rinsed the item and tried to get all of the water out of it, roll it in a bath towel to get out the extra water. Then unroll and lay flat on a drying screen. If you need to touch up with an iron to get out wrinkles, make sure it is on low and the item is inside out. Or, you could fluff it in the dryer for 20 minutes on air only to get out wrinkles.



answers from Tulsa on

28 years ago when I was a new Mom, my husband started giving me silk sweaters which of course need to be dry cleaned after only a couple of hours of wear. Baby formula just doesn't stay put!!!

My dry cleaner felt sorry for me because I was in his place of business almost daily. He told me to wash my sweaters on delicate (cold wash and rinse, very little spinning) and use Ivory dishwashing soap - just one quick swirl around the tub is plenty. Lay the sweaters and block them to dry.

I have used this method since for most of my dry clean only clothes. It has saved me a ton of $$$$!! And my clothes last just as long and look just as good.

My daughter now lives in Japan and doesn't trust the dry cleaners there so she does this for her clothes.



answers from Tulsa on

Be very care for what you wash if it say dry clean only that is not just a way for the dry cleansers to make more money. Do not wash anything with wool in it or any fur. Also if you do wash only dry clean only thing try the dry cleaning stuff for your dry they do work from what I have be told or was by hands and lay out on s table to dry.


answers from Tulsa on

I've washed pretty much everything that said dry clean only in a regular top loading washer on the gentle cycle. The only thing I've ever sent to the dry cleaners was a wool and leather jacket that I have, but it only needed to be cleaned every few months of so. I haven't had any kind of problems with anything else being in the washer, but I don't really remember what kind of fabrics they are. I tend to not buy dry clean only, so anything I receive as a gift tends to get shifted out quicker than most of my other wardrobe. You could also try the Dryel home drying cleaning kit. My dad bought that a few years ago and used it for his suits and he liked it well enough. I don't know if he still uses it or not. I think I used it once or twice and it was ok. I find that the washer works fine for me. Maybe some one else will know about specific fabrics. Good luck!



answers from Tulsa on

Red is going to fade if you put water on it, only use Dryel. Also, only put reds together. Don't mix the colors in the bag, they rub against each other and the color bleeds on the other colors.

Silk will lose it's sheen if water gets on it, I will only dry clean it now. I had a beautiful shirt that had warm colors and went over several shells with black pants/skirt. I decided I just didn't want to dry clean it anymore. I called a local dry cleaners and asked about washing it since it was a sturdy fabric. They told me no, it would damage the fabric but I didn't listen. I washed it and it looks awful now. It is rough feeling to my skin and even when I iron the shirt it just doesn't look the same.



answers from Birmingham on

Do NOT hand wash silk ... I did it a couple of years ago and ruined my very beautiful and expensive shirt: it is now rough to touch and the colors look so dead.

I have washed pure wool sweaters with gentle shampoo (wool is animal hair). Shampoo keeps the size and color of the garment. A quick, luke warm water, hand wash will do. Squeeze water out by making a ball (do not wring) rinse twice/thrice. Lay out on glass table or towel to dry, turning it after 12 hours.



answers from Houma on

I have had luck by hand washing in a sink. If there are spots treat them and brush with a soft toothbrush first. THen gently hand wash with your detergent (I use a nontoxic one) just move the material around without pulling on the material like you would shake your hand in water to make bubble use the same motion just not so rough. THen wring it out but not rough and rinse it several times. THen lay it out on a towel and shape it so it is not too big or small. Roll it up in the towel and squeeze it. Then do it again in another towel and squeeze it again. Then on one more towel lay it out and allow it to air dry. It is good to get away from dry cleaning anyway because the chemicals they use are nasty nasty. Good luck!



answers from Baton Rouge on

The only thing I don't put in the washer is wool - even on the gentle cycle, the agitation compacts the fibers and it shrinks. I hand-wash it, but I use the same detergent I use in the washer, which is Eco-Cleen - I just use a very small amount of it (about a tablespoon) for hand washing. I get it at Whole Foods.

Everything else that says hand wash or dry clean goes in the washer on the gentle cycle and then gets either hung on the clothesline or laid out to dry.



answers from Lake Charles on

Hello! Usually if the tag reads "Dry Clean" you can either hand wash the garment or wash it on the delicate cycle in your washing machine. I do this fairly often and I also have a top loading washing machine. When I do use the delicate cycle to wash the garment, I only put 1-2 pieces in the machine at a time. If the tag reads "Dry Clean Only" it depends on the garment. If it has beads or other delicate features on it I would hand wash it only. Do not "scrunch" up the fabric. Let it float in the water and swish it around then roll it to squeeze out the excess water after you rinse the soap out. If you have a sweater that has wool, angora, silk, or cashmere I would bring it to the dry cleaners because it will probably shrink or may even discolor the fabric. I worked in retail management for awhile and purchased a good amount of dry clean only garments. Hope this helps!



answers from Birmingham on

The only advice I have is do NOT put your wool sweaters in the washing machine - I made this mistake - it will shrink them and I mean shrink them so small you can not ever where them again. I think there is another post on here that someone actually knew why it shrank but anyway just wanted to warn you about that so you don't have to go through the same trial and error I did.



answers from Fayetteville on

Yay! Thanks for making our world a little healthier!

We use this stuff that we got, I think, at Wal-Mart or Target; you could look it up and see who sells it. It's called Dryel; it's non-toxic, it's very easy, it's for all "dry-clean only"s, and it's really cheap. I think the bag comes with it.


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