There is so much to be learned in the realm of dry cleaning. First off — did you know that the process isn’t even completely dry? And how safe (and effective) are at-home dry cleaning kits? We turned to our Trendsetter *Unfunded for the answers. If you’re stylish, a little edgy, and don’t have a ton of funds, Unfunded is a fantastic blog to check out.*
We all love to scour the sample sales and VIP membership sale sites like Shop It To Me for the best deals on designer duds. This, however, can be a double-edged sword. Pro: we score a $400 dress for $30; con: it’s still an expensive piece, made of expensive fabric, thus, we can’t just pop it in the washing machine to get rid of our daily stench (not that you have a daily stench…I’m just sayin’).
The fact is, the majority of the amazing designer pieces that put us on that post-sale high are dry clean only, and dry cleaning can be expensive. Being the “I am my own woman” and “I can do this on my own” type of person that I am, I set out to unravel the tightly knit secrets of dry cleaning so I could save a little money and learn how to dry clean my better pieces on my own.
The first thing that stands to mislead anyone planning a DIY dry clean is its name, “dry” clean. From that name alone, you might think you’d simply be able to stick your items in the dryer, tumble it around for a bit then have your garments come out completely stain free (I mean, come on, we’ve all thrown dirty clothes in the dryer to freshen them up a bit, right? Well, at least I have). Actually, clothes that get dry cleaned do get wet, just not with water. Dry cleaning involves the use of a liquid solvent, called perchloroethylene, to remove soil and stains from your clothes. The solvent dissolves grease and oil and prevents garment shrinkage, loss of color and fabric distortion – kind of like the secret ingredient.
At a professional dry cleaners, a garment’s spots and stains are pre-treated with a special cleansing solution, then the items are put into a machine with the liquid solvent and washed, then pressed and packaged with a clear plastic covering and a wire hanger (usually covered with paper that says something cute like, “thank you, come again” or “I love my dry cleaner”). Take a look at how dry cleaning works in the video below by HowStuffWorks:
The reason some of our items are tagged as “dry clean only” is because of the fabric the item is made of. Fabrics like rayon, silk and wool blends will shrink, change colors or become misshapen if washed in water. This, however, doesn’t negate the fact that dry cleaning is just plain expensive. So – how do you take care of things on your own? There are a few home dry cleaning kits on the market that allow you to get your better pieces clean simply with the use of your home clothes dryer. The main products are:- Dryel *– about $12, includes pre-treatment stain remover pads, special Dryel cloths and garment bag for the dry cleaning process
- *Dry Cleaner’s Secret by Woolite – about $20, works with just the use of the special cloths, no bag necessary and cleans up to 56 garments, also non-toxic - 15 Minute Dry Cleaner by Bounc*e* – about $10, like the Woolite product it only uses the cloths, 6 cloths included and cleans up to 24 garments
I tried product #2, Dry Cleaner’s Secret by Woolite. I was a little hesitant when I first saw the small, barely wet cloth that came out of the package. I wasn’t completely confident that my clothes would end up clean. How can this little thing compare to the commercial dry cleaners? The instructions were pretty easy, though – stick a few garments in the dryer with one of the cloths and turn on the dryer for about 2o minutes – so I decided to give it a try.The result? After not expecting much, I have to say I was pleasantly surprised with the results! My clothes came out refreshed, clean smelling and wrinkle free. I will say, though, that the clothes I cleaned weren’t overly soiled and didn’t have any serious stains – I’m not sure if one of these kits would work for items that need a “good cleaning.” I’d definitely take those items to the pros. But if you need to freshen up your dry-clean-only clothes, or remove some type of bar/club/smoke stench, then these kits are absolutely perfect. It’s $20 well spent and will end up saving you tons of money.