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Is it possible to have lots of dry clean only items without running up dry cleaning bills the size of the national debt?

(22 Posts)
BastardSpiders Mon 12-Nov-12 22:20:39

I want to upgrade my wardrobe gradually, by investing in fewer but higher quality, classic clothes. I am fed up of crap fabrics that don't last well despite careful washing.

The only problem is the fact that many such items require dry cleaning and the prices for dry cleaning are quite prohibitive.

Is there a way of dry cleaning at home? I mean proper cleaning, as Googling only threw up tumble dryer products which effectively just infuse the clothing with a fragrance rather than actually cleaning it. hmm

Mosman Mon 12-Nov-12 22:45:46

I think providing you don't wear them you should be fine.
The idea of dry cleaning is that it uses chemicals instead of water and that cannot safely be replicated at home. You can use those wipe things and the tumble drier to refresh between dry cleans but it won't clean them properly. That said I think pressing the clothes is often all that's really needed, who gets dirty really.

BastardSpiders Mon 12-Nov-12 22:52:46


Its probably better value to buy cheap clothes and accept that you will need to replace them more frequently.

Its all very well being told that buying fewer clothes that will last longer works out as good value, but that it totally untrue once the cost of dry cleaning is taken into account!

Thanks for replying. smile

Mosman Tue 13-Nov-12 00:13:01

My dad is s dry cleaner and so I never realised how much it cost until I moved a long way away. The truth is he hadn't really increased his priced in 15 years but what has happened is the price of clothing has come down and is more disposable do relatively speaking it seems more expensive.
Bottom line is if you drive a Porsche then you pay porsche servicing and parts costs, that's part of the deal. It's expensive but you are driving a Porsche, same applies to beautiful clothes.

Hopefully Tue 13-Nov-12 06:13:42

For things like work clothes, I put them on at the beginning of the working day an take them off as soon as I am home an finished. I get aaaages out of a pair of trousers or jacket (probably wear 20 times between cleanings), just hang them up to air and press. Use a damp cloth for any marks.

I never buy dry clean only tops, and if cashmere or silk calls itself dry clean, I hand wash it gently - I have never had (100%) cashmere or silk shrink in water. Mixed fibres are less predictable though.

Overcoats go through more or less a whole winter without dry cleaning, unless they get horribly filthy through spillage or something.

HellothisisJoanie Tue 13-Nov-12 07:39:10

ODes that Lakeland thing work?

PoppyWearer Tue 13-Nov-12 07:45:55

I have been trying to buy better-quality clothes second-hand (vintage, if you must!) through charity shops and eBay. But my dry cleaning bill has soared. I've also shrunk more cashmere jumpers in my time than I've had hot dinners, and tend to send them in to the dry cleaners too. With two small kids I get a lot of snot and food smeared on my clothes, and also have no time to faff around with hand washing.

The depressing reality is that I now tend to spend most of my time rotating the same few washable long-sleeved tops whilst my lovely dry-clean clothes sit for "special" occasions.

I had been wondering about the dry-clean-at-home methods but suspected they weren't much cop. Unless anyone knows different?

DilysPrice Tue 13-Nov-12 07:50:27

Like Hopefully says - buy dry clean trousers/skirts/jackets/coats in dark colours but on no account buy dryclean only dresses or tops.

That said, simple silk tops that say dryclean only can usually be hand washed or washed in delicates cycle.

DonaAna Tue 13-Nov-12 09:16:23

There was an article about this in Nov Vogue. Many very high-profile women wash their stuff at home in the new intelligent washing machines that have good delicates cycles.

Be very careful with viscose and tencel - I accidentally shrank a Burberry dress.

The real problem is: who will iron what you have washed?

I buy a lot of higher-end stuff and always consider practical issues while making a purchase. Silk-cotton is great as is merino wool. I do not buy linen and very little lustrous silk. 100% cotton is great but I employ a cleaner who irons for half a day every week. I'm phasing viscose out of my wardrobe as it requires too much maintenance (needs to be ironed after every wear). Wool is naturally dirt-repellent and self-cleaning, an airing is usually all that is needed.

If you want to do minimal ironing, invest in good jersey fabrics (mercerized cotton is very good, merino too) and hang your clothes after every wear. Some polyester is also easy to care for and good for coats, travel clothes etc.

Finally, t shirts were invented to keep jackets over them clean. If your layer of next-to-skin clothes is easy to clean and care for, you will need to wash/ dry-clean the rest of your outfit very rarely.

MousyMouse Tue 13-Nov-12 10:08:19

I just put anything in the washing mashine.
wool or handwash cycle + delicate detergent or shampoo if in any doubt.
gentle spin
gently pull into shape before hanging up to dry, hang up shirts on hangers for minimising ironing. if you are careful you might be able to get away without ironing at all!

Bonsoir Tue 13-Nov-12 10:19:06

Buy a really good washing machine and use really good detergents. Nearly everything can be washed in a Miele or Siemens machine.

Mosman Tue 13-Nov-12 10:55:39

Put wool in the washing machine and it will fit barbie IMO

ouryve Tue 13-Nov-12 10:59:24

That's what the cold wool wash is for, Mosman. It's gentler than hand washing as it agitates and stretches the wool less. If you use the cold wash, then wash and rinse are the same temperature and minimise the likelihood of felting.

DonaAna Tue 13-Nov-12 11:02:03

No, Mosman, I wash all of my cashmere and merino on the wool and silk cycle of our Bosch and get perfect results every time. Temperature is important too, 30 to 40C.

Viscose/tencel is the only fiber I've accidentally shrunk.

Hopefully Tue 13-Nov-12 11:04:44

I don't even have a posh machine and cashmere and merino is fine on the cold/delicate cycle. I don't actually put it on the wool wash as it is 35 degrees which I panic about!

Mosman Tue 13-Nov-12 11:06:03

Not a suit jacket though surely ? I've washed a washable suit on a wool wash and it's shrunk

PoppyWearer Tue 13-Nov-12 11:22:36

I have a Miele machine and have risked washing cashmere jumpers on occasion but mixed results...maybe I will try again as we got a new machine this year and it might be better <nervous>.

DonaAna Tue 13-Nov-12 11:33:06

Nah, suit jackets I air after every use and take to the dry cleaners maximum once per season (often much less frequently). Like I said, wool is self-cleaning and does not need frequent washing if you protect it wearing easy to wash items underneath. I like Chanel-type jackets and have had many of them for more than a decade.

Labeling clothes dry cleaning only is also a protective measure from the clothing manufacturers - they cannot be held liable if something does not wash well.

I have two toddlers and cannot wear my silk shirts and silk jersey dresses around them atm. My fancy clothes are for work and evenings out; around children I wear easy-to-maintain things, cotton shirts and tops, cotton-silk mixes and lots and lots of merino in all forms (short-sleeved scoop-necked sweaters, sweater dresses, long-sleeved V-necked tops). Merino-silk is a lovely lighter mixture too. Dishwashing liquid is brilliant for grease stains btw.

Bonsoir Tue 13-Nov-12 13:57:27

I've developed hitherto unnecessary expertise in stain removal since having a family. I have a large housemaid's cupboard and a shelf is devoted to stain removal products, all sorts of laundry detergents, whiteners etc. Mostly I find dry cleaning doesn't remove stains nearly as well as any of the home use products.

The one issue I have with not using the cleaners is having to iron in-house because, frankly, I am rarely satisfied with the quality of ironing of difficult things like suit jackets unless the professional ironers at the cleaners do it (or else I do it myself - yawn). General-purpose cleaning ladies rarely have super-duper ironing skills sad

MrsCampbellBlack Tue 13-Nov-12 14:15:09

I actually washed my son's wool school blazer on the wool cycle with woollite recently and it was fine.

The only thing I've ever ruined was an ivory silk shirt with a navy silk collar - I really should have dry-cleaned that.

Woollite is fab and I use that after Bonsoir recommended it ages ago.

Bonsoir Tue 13-Nov-12 14:24:10


<rearranges shelf of laundry detergent bottles>

BastardSpiders Tue 13-Nov-12 14:35:23

Thank you!

Hopefully with a combination of washing what I can and minimising the amount of dry cleaning trips for other items, I can actually afford to have nicer things in my wardrobe. smile

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