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What to Dry Clean and What Not to

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Clothes Drying
Credit: http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1430331

Many of use will see a clothing item at a store and fall in love with it until we see that it says dry clean only. Don’t let this turn you away, there are many things that say dry clean, but can be washed at home.

What to Dry Clean

Wedding Dresses

This should be obvious to most people. Wedding dresses have to be dry cleaned because first of all wedding dresses would not fit in a washing machine at home. Second, your washer would destroy the delicate and fine fabric wedding dresses are made of. To preserve your wedding dress, and to keep it looking nice for years to come dry cleaning is a must!

Dresses with beading, sequins, etc

Dresses with embellishment such as beading or sequins need to be brought to the dry cleaner. Dresses with embellishment need to be dry cleaned because the embellishment would otherwise fall off in the washer or dryer. Also, dresses with embellishment are often made of fabric that needs to be dry cleaned such as silk or taffeta. Fine dresses can often be worn a few times before they need dry cleaned, this can save you lots of money.

Suits and Tuxedos 

Like wedding dresses, suits and tuxedos are not items that you want to wash at home. They too need to be brought to the dry cleaner, because they are made out of fine fabrics like wool. Suits and Tuxedos can also be worn several times before they need to be dry cleaned.

 Wool Coats

Wool coats need to be brought to the dry cleaner too. Wool shrinks very easily, and no one want that to happen to their coat. Wool coats can be worn for an entire season before they need to be dry cleaned though. I always bring my wool coats to the dry cleaner in the spring or summer, then they are all clean for fall and winter. 

Anything Silk, Acetate, Velvet or Taffeta

Any clothing item that is silk, acetate, velvet or taffeta needs to be dry cleaned. These fabrics do not do well when washed at home, they will wrinkle, shrink etc. If you want these fabrics to continue to look like new for years to come they need to be dry cleaned. 

What Not to Dry Clean

Wool and Cashmere sweaters

Most people would think that wool and cashmere sweaters need to be brought to the dry cleaners, however this is not the case. To wash wool and cashmere sweaters at home turn them inside out, wash on cold and delicate cycle, and hang dry flat. Make sure you wash on cold and hang dry, this will prevent shrinkage! 


 On several higher end jean brands the tags say to dry clean. You do not need to dry clean these high-end brands. Jeans can be worn several days before washing, this will help to increase the life of your jeans too. To wash your jeans, turn them inside out and button, wash on cold with like colors, and hang dry. 

Cotton, Linen, Polyester, Acrylic and Nylon

Clothing made of cotton, linen, polyester, acrylic and nylon can always be washed at home. If you want to prevent color loss wash on cold. If you want to prevent shrinkage, skip the dryer and hang dry. If any of these fabrics has embellishment such as beading, this item can be put in a mesh bag to protect it. 


Lingerie can be put in a mesh lingerie bag and washed on cold and delicate cycle, or washed by hand. Never, ever dry lingerie in the dryer, always hang dry. If you are not sure if you should wash by hand or in the washer look at the tag. I find that most lingerie washing instructions offer good advice.

Dress Shirts

Dress shirts are an item that I see people bringing to the dry cleaner all the time! Most dress shirts can be washed at home. Before washing, make sure the shirt is not made out of silk, acetate, velvet or taffeta. Like all other items that can be washed at home, be sure wash on cold and hang dry. Also button the dress shirt all up before washing. If needed iron the shirt to get any wrinkles out. Many dress shirts today are washer and dryer friendly. Buy these instead and it will save you time and money!


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