Even if a label tells you how to clean something, there’s no guarantee it’s going to be easy or cheap to do so.
Ever been hit with an outrageous dry cleaning bill or realized that that gorgeous new blouse you just bought had impossible-to-understand care instructions?
Yup, we’ve been there and so have our clients. Oftentimes we give them some advice that’s worked for us at home but there have still been a couple times when we just don’t know what to say!
Sure, we’re not dry cleaners, but over the years as tailors we’ve nevertheless been able to collect several prized tips on cleaning and caring for clothes that would make even the most experienced in the dry cleaning business proud. So we racked our brains for past instances of when clients used our tips, and even did some additional research (the Glamour site was a great resource!), and gathered all of that advice to hopefully help you better (and more inexpensively) deal with your trickier clothes.
PLEATS: DRY-CLEAN ONLY!
Most designers inject pleated fabric with a little polyester so the pleats hold, meaning they shouldn’t come out in dry cleaning.
If a pleated piece gets a stain, though, it can be problematic because the spot-treat solvent causes the pleats to disappear. Luckily, many cleaners today do have machines that can repleat, so make sure yours does.
CASHMERE, WOOL, OR ANYTHING, EMBELLISHED WITH BEADS, ETC: HAND-WASH*
(*Unless the label specifically says NOT to!)
You may soak sweaters in a sink/tub with a light a light detergent (such as Woolite), then shape them on a flat low-fiber towel to air-dry. (Don’t hang them as hangers can stretch and misshape your sweaters!)
When cleaning anything with beading, avoid high heat (i.e., no ironing, no dryer!) because that can cause crackling. And if you have a beaded item that says it can be dry-cleaned only, make sure you ask the cleaner to cover the embellishments with foil or cloth to create a layer of protection.
Fabric innovations are a way for designers to be creative, but it shouldn’t be at the customer’s expense. (Bryanboy)
Some will tell you to never wash your jeans as they’ll fade overtime while some brands will even advise you to dry-clean just on the first wash. That’s fine, but we also know of a few other tactics.
A more affordable approach is to turn your jeans outside out before washing–and always use cold water–to help maintain the integrity of the color. (To counteract stretching, toss them in the dryer on low.)
Other people even put them in their freezer to kill the bacteria!
LEATHER & OTHER EXOTICS: TAKE THEM TO A SPECIALIST!
Do take your leathers to a leather specialist. Leather and suede are treated very differently than regular garments: If there’s a stain, first it should be spot-treated. Then the whole piece’ll have to be cleaned to extract those chemicals. Afterwards, the garment needs to be conditioned to keep the texture soft. Finally, a leather technician should color-match the dye or paint.
Leathers take around six weeks, which doesn’t account for leather that’s mixed with fabric, something many cleaners won’t even touch.
Some people even stick their leathers in the dryer on low heat to help kill bacteria, and, since leather can stretch, this tactic has the added benefit of shrinking pieces back to their original shape.
And while skins can’t be dry-cleaned, most dry cleaners have third-party experts they send these pieces out to.
DO IT YOURSELF (But proceed with caution)
In light of the mishaps they’ve experienced at their cleaners, some people have decided to take matters into their own hands with cleaning kits (such as Dryel) that come with sprays for spot-treating found at convenience/drug/grocery stores : They’d simply put put the item of clothing in question in a reusable bag with a sheet that resembles a baby wipe and stick it in the dryer on low or delicate for 20-30 minutes.
Thankfully, when it comes to properly cleaning and taking care for your clothes, you DO have options! The issue lies with knowing what they are, so hopefully this guide helped you find the answers.
What other tips do YOU have for caring for your trickier clothes?