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Dry clean only? Can I wash it at home?

We're here to explain what all those dry cleaning symbols mean & answer the age-old question: can you wash dry clean only clothes at home? Read on for tips!


By Cleanipedia Team

hand washing delicate clothing

Key steps:

  • Test any cleaning product or detergent on a hidden part of the fabric first
  • Wash delicates or embroidered clothes in a laundry mesh bag
  • Always wash with cool water – heat is more likely to damage material

Taking clothes to the dry cleaners is a hassle that many people could do without. Not only is it time consuming, but it can be very expensive, too! So if you’ve ever wondered – ‘can you dry clean at home?’ – we’ve got a guide to doing just that.

From how to wash clothes without water, to advice on removing stubborn stains, here’s a rundown of how you might be able to avoid paying a professional.

If you’re worried about damaging an item of clothing in the machine, washing with Persil Washing Powder can give you much greater control over the amount you use.

How concerned are you about disinfecting while cleaning?

How to wash dry clean only clothes … at home

When checking your clothing care labels, it’s likely you’ll often come across one that has a series of dry cleaning symbols. While there are certain materials – such as suede or velvet – which do require specialist care, this may not be the case for everything.

Before deciding whether or not to take the item in question to the dry cleaners, consider the following factors:

  • What’s it made from? If clothing is made from polyester, cotton, or linen – these are all durable fabrics that can usually withstand machine-washing. The most important thing is to ensure you are using the correct type of cycle on the machine. As long as you choose a cool cycle and a gentle spin, chances are your garment will be ok.
  • Can you hand wash dry clean only instead? Items like silk or wool are often marked ‘dry-clean’ due to their delicate nature but if you treat the item with care, you might be able to safely clean them by hand at home. Use tepid water, a laundry detergent designed for hand washing, and gently soak being careful not to overstretch it. Comfort also has some suggestions on handwashing clothes with their fabric softener.
  • Does it have embroidery or embellishments? A lot of delicate garments have embellishments, like beading or lace, which is more likely to fall off or get damaged in the machine. If this is the case, you might be able to prevent the problem by washing the item inside a mesh laundry bag or pillowcase.
  • Does it require you to wash clothes without water? If an item of clothing is made from suede, or a type of material that will be ruined by water, take it to the dry cleaners. If the label says ‘Dry Clean Only’ it is best to take this to a specialist rather than attempting to clean it at home. You’d hate for it to get damaged in your washing machine after all.

How to remove stains from delicate clothes

If you’ve spotted a stain, you might be able to remove it yourself (as long as the material is suitable). Test the detergent or product you plan to use on a hidden part of the garment first, and follow these steps:

  1. Wet the stain with cool water.
  2. Apply a good quality laundry detergent like Persil directly to the stain.
  3. Gently dab – but don’t rub!
  4. Rinse through with cool water.

For more advice about washing symbols or how to handle stains on clothes, make sure you check out the rest of our laundry articles.

Originally published