Laundry Room: Is it really dry clean only?

Have you ever decided against a clothing purchase because the label says “DRY CLEAN”? Or, better yet, have you ever needed a shirt for an important work meeting the next day only to discover it’s both dirty and dry clean only?   

Dry cleaning puts hassle into our lives. Some of you may disagree and actually like taking your special clothes and fancy linens for a regular visit to the neighborhood dry cleaner so someone else can worry about them instead of you. And yes, dry cleaners have found ways to make it more convenient with pick-up and delivery service, but for those of us who like a low maintenance life, there’s still an element of hassle. Not to mention an unwanted, sigh-provoking expense.

Now, if you’re a bit of a laundry risk taker, you might be asking yourself, “Does it really have to be dry cleaned?” Or you could be thinking there’s a conspiracy between fabric companies and the dry cleaning industry to suck up all your extra cash and leave you skipping that latte in order to get your favorite blouse out of dry cleaning jail.

The truth is there truly are some fabrics that are dry clean only. If the label says, “DRY CLEAN ONLY” then there is no wiggle room and you’ll just have to make accommodations in your life for this. (For some of us, that means only wearing it on special occasions to limit the dry cleaning.)

There’s good news, though. If the label simply says, “DRY CLEAN” then that is a recommendation, not laundry law. You can choose to follow it or not. If you choose the latter, then hand washing is your best method. Use cold water and the gentlest of detergents. For these fabrics, you’ll want a detergent that is labeled specifically for delicate fabrics and hand washing. Also, remember that the dryer is not your friend in this situation, so prepare to air dry.