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Dry cleaning

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    Dry cleaning

    Sorry if this has been asked before...

    Dry cleaning is not cheap so I am wondering if I could wash my "dry cleaning only" items myself. I am talking about pants etc. Somebody on this forum mentioned once that dry cleaners still wash your clothes so why can't I do it myself? Maybe I'm missing something...


    What is the material? Most "dry clean only" things really rarely have to be dry-cleaned. If the pants are wool, they do not need to be dry-cleaned as often as you might think. Hang them up for a day or two to air out, steam them if they are wrinkled and that can do wonders.

    Many other materials can be soaked in cool water with a mild detergent (woolite or the like) and air-dryed. I honestly haven't been to the dry-cleaners (aside from letting them deal with thrifted or ebayed goods) in well over a year. As long as you don't spill on yourself, I don't see the need.

    "You don't need money to dress better than you do" - Salvatore Romano



      "Somebody on this forum mentioned once that dry cleaners still wash your clothes..."

      What that person meant is that if you take dress shirts or something simple to the cleaners, they'll just launder in a machine and press them much like you would at home. For suits or coats, it might be different. My cleaners will also do "steam only" if requested which I've taken advantage of a few times for coats and blazers.



        Thanks, guys!

        @greg, some of my pants are 100% wool while some are wool/cotton blend or cotton/spandex etc.

        So you are saying for all of those I can just wash them myself?




          Don't put wool in the wash machine and especially not the dryer. Cotton is fine for the wash machine.

          I put wool socks in the washer and dryer, but I don't care about those.



            I wash all of my own sweaters (merino, cashmere, lambswool, etc) and most pants myself. For all of them, if I haven't spilled and they don't smell, I don't wash them. So they get a lot of wears before washing.

            I use cool water in the sink with a very small amount of woolite. Soak for awhile (maybe an hour? It's not an exact science) and swish around every now and then. When they are done soaking, rinse with cool water to get the detergent out. Never wring to dry. Lay a towel flat on the ground and lay the garment on the towel. Roll the towel up so the garment is inside and press gently to squeeze excess water out. For heavier things like cashmere sweaters, I do this a couple times with different towels. Then lay somewhere flat to dry. Pants are easy and will dry quickly. Sweaters take awhile and should be somewhat reshaped as they dry. It is really a lot less work than it sounds and very cheap. I just have those going in the background when I'm doing other things.

            "You don't need money to dress better than you do" - Salvatore Romano



              Thanks, NC and Greg!

              That does sound pretty easy. Time to wash some of my pants I haven't washed in a long while :-)



                Pretty sure dry cleaners don't usually wash the clothes like you do at home:

                I think the term "dry cleaning" specifically refers to a gentler, water-free cleaning process.

                I was told that my dry cleaner uses chemical cleaning (and/or steam), but does not wash them in water like you would at home unless asked to. The chemical cleaning is gentler from what I've heard, thus many finer, more expensive, or more delicate garments are safest cleaned by chemical "dry" cleaning, which does not rely on water rinse to sterilize and free dirt from the clothes.

                It often involves spraying or dipping the garment in a chemical and gently moving and rotating, but it is not full on washing or water. More of a dirt-dissolving thing.



                  Canon, he many that for things like cotton clothes and dress shirts.

                  I only take my clothes to the cleaners when they are stained. Buy a solid steamer and hang and steam your clothes. The clothes last longer and you save money.



                    @PublicName - I hope you don't steam your suits. That's a good way to ruin them.



                      @Vovan huh? I've heard many people touch up their suits before interviews with a steam.


                      People also seem to recommend using something called Dryel when doing it, to actually clean the suit a bit...



                        Vovan is referring to warnings from several tailors that steaming suits will destroy their shape, and hurt the canvas (or fused interlining), especially on the front half of suit jackets and sport coats. I've seen it discussed on Styleforum. These tailors recommend pressing suits, and they caution that any steam can ruin a suit. The problem is that this critique doesn't seem to recognize that fusing has changed a lot in the past couple of decades -- the glue used now is vastly superior to the stuff used in the 1970s. Jackets from the past decade won't pucker if steamed lightly. Canvassed jackets may lose their shapes if steamed (but they may be pressed by a tailor to regain their shape). So, everyone agrees that steaming wool pants and the back of jackets, especially the elbow area, is totally fine. Some recommend never steaming the front half of jackets. Others say that this is ridiculous, they've steamed all their jackets for years and it's always been fine. Another group (of which I'm a part) decides to split the difference, and resort to steaming the front of jackets only in rare circumstances and then only very lightly. I steam the hell out of my pants and elbows.



                          BB is right. That's exactly what I was referring to. Steam can undo fused fabrics and warp canvassed garments like suit jackets. At least, in theory...

                          I used to steam my suits too but after reading those warnings I decided to stop. Now, maybe it's outdated info and I have to mention that I never ruined my own suits by "taking a shower with my suit in the bathroom" but I was scared to ruin any of my suits after that.

                          Thanks to BB, I will definitely reconsider it.

                          I guess what really bothers me is that no one seems to come to a conclusion on this issue...

                          BB mentioned a topic on SF. Here it is:




                            Yeah, I should reiterate that I remain wary of steaming the front half of my jackets -- I just don't want to risk puckering the fused linings, even if some claim that it won't hurt them. But pants are always fair game.



                              BB, how would you clean your 100% wool pants? Just steaming? Or first washing and them steaming? Can steaming alone provide cleaning as well?