Dry clean vs Laundry
Launder and Press versus Dry Cleaning
December 10, 2019

Which Pieces of Clothing Needs to be Dry Cleaned vs Washed at Home

Adding a fresh new article of clothing to your closet is always exciting. However, keeping it looking and feeling like new can be tricky. Not all clothing or fabrics are created equally, and some require more attention than others. At times, it can be as easy as reading a clothing label such as when the tag states ‘Dry Clean Only.’ Other times, it is difficult to understand what it is the tag is exactly instructing you to do, like “Hand Wash.” After you wash it by hand, does that mean it needs to be hung to dry or lay flat? To make matters even more complicated, sometimes there isn’t an instruction label to be found, to begin with. Here is a general reference of what needs to be professionally washed or dry cleaned, and what items can be happily washed at home.

At Home: Cotton and Synthetic Fabrics (Nylon, Polyester)

It is recommended that cotton be washed in warm or cool water with regular detergent. A general rule of thumb is to avoid hot water. Heat can cause colors in the fabric to fade. The same goes for polyester, nylon and other synthetic fabrics. When drying, ensure that you use a delicate or permanent press cycle, and hang them after drying to avoid permanent wrinkling.

When it comes to denim, you should wash it inside-out in cold water, and hang it to dry. Although a durable material, denim still requires special care, and raw denim isn’t supposed to be washed at all. When you bring it to your local dry cleaner, they can help advise you on taking care of your high-end or blended denim.

At Home by Hand, or Professionally Washed: Cashmere Blends

A luxurious fabric, such as cashmere blends, should be washed in either cold or lukewarm water by hand, using gentle laundry soap. Avoid wringing the fabric after washing it, as this may cause harm. To dry, use a drying mesh rack to retain its shape or dry it laying flat. Alternatively, you can place the item in a laundry bag, using the most delicate cycle on your machine to mimic the hand washing process.

If this sounds like too much of an arduous process, you can simply bring your luxury fabrics to your local professional cleaner instead.

Professionally Cleaned: Silk, Leather, Velvet, Wool, Chiffon, and Others

It is best to defer to a professional cleaner when it comes to the more delicate and complex fabrics, such as silk, leather, velvet, chiffon or wool. Many of these can be ruined when washed without expert knowledge. An experienced dry cleaner will ensure long-term maintenance of the piece. 

Suits, gowns, and professional pieces should also be entrusted in a dry cleaner in order to maintain shape and wear.

TBD: Accessories, or Embellished Fabrics

An embellished clothing item with sequins, beads, or accents, or even a fancy hat may bring up a lot of question marks. Often they can be cleaned by using a damp cloth to wipe off dust, dirt, or little stains. Ensure they are out of the sun, and stored in a cool, dry place to avoid color damage. If you have something with sensitive details like sequins, you can hand wash it with a gentle detergent. Embroidered pieces should be placed inside-out in a mesh laundry bag on a delicate cycle. If it feels more complicated than you want to try, then take it to your local cleaner.

When in Doubt…

Whether you are confused by the label, can’t find it, have a difficult stain, or are just in doubt on how to best take care of your clothing, visit your dry cleaner expert for proper care and attention. If they aren’t able to take care of it in-house, they likely can send it out, or have a trusted resource available for you.

Author: Christina P. Kantzavelos