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Learning, Sharing, and Teaching => Ask a Mustachian => Topic started by: Ms Manageable Muttonchops on August 22, 2014, 10:13:08 AM

Title: At home dry-cleaning?
Post by: Ms Manageable Muttonchops on August 22, 2014, 10:13:08 AM
I'll try to keep this brief.

I am newly in the world of "you are a big girl now and you have to put your big girl pants on and dress all fancy so other people will presume you are smart and worthy"

AKA Professional Office Life

This means I am also new to owning clothes that are not quick-dry, smart-wool, high-performance, spandex or fleece. Apparently business-type clothes are stuck in the dark ages of delicate linens that *gasP* can't get wet!

Long story short I now own a few items that say "dry clean only" (barf). These are mostly fancy-pants suit jackets and I think one shirt?

Is there an alternative to dropping these clothes off at the shop that says "dry cleaning" on it and paying someone else to do it? I have literally never had to deal with this before....can you "dry clean" at home...?

I hope this is not a stupid question! Also if this topic is discussed elsewhere, please direct me!

Thanks a bunch. =)
Title: Re: At home dry-cleaning?
Post by: dandarc on August 22, 2014, 10:34:53 AM
My wife uses Dryell - much more expensive than regular clothes washing, but much less than taking them to a dry cleaner.  We do still take our REALLY nice clothes to a dry cleaner - suits / very dressy dresses, but most of her professional office attire gets Dryelled.
Title: Re: At home dry-cleaning?
Post by: dandarc on August 22, 2014, 10:36:26 AM
Also, it is "Dryel", not "Dryell".
Title: Re: At home dry-cleaning?
Post by: Ynari on August 22, 2014, 11:37:42 AM
I try my hardest not to (have to) dry clean any daily wear clothing, as general daily wear for me is business casual so I have options.

I buy used clothing and normally ignore the tag (or try to find washable stuff), wash on cold, and hang dry.  Steam or lightly iron.  It has so far been cheap and effective.  It may wear out the clothing faster, but since I buy used I don't spend a lot to replace it.

If your daily wear is business formal, then...  well, personally I'd probably consider it just a cost of the job, and try to reduce the frequency of visits (clothes don't get too gross while you're sitting around all day.)
Title: Re: At home dry-cleaning?
Post by: OSUBearCub on August 22, 2014, 11:47:04 AM
Quality women's suits are constructed just like quality men's suits (I used to sell men's suits.)  You really DON'T need to launder the suit jacket very often.  Wool fibers air very nicely.  A good men's suit only needs dry cleaing 1-2 times per *year* - any more and the chemicals damage the fibers and the wool loses the fiber qualities it was chosen for in the first place.  Same goes for your jackets. 

After you wear the jackets, hang them on a hanger in free moving air for a day.  If your closet is jam packed, do this before returning it to the rod.  Also, you can avoid creasing with garment bags or by ensuring there's enough room around the jacket so that it's not smooshed in the closet.

The shirt is most likely a silk or silk blend - same rule applies try to air it before resorting the chemical treatment. 

(Side note - please don't put the jackets in the washing machine as has been suggested on other posts/websites - the seams and position of the lining materials will be instantly screwed-up and the jacket will never drape properly again.)  :-)
Title: Re: At home dry-cleaning?
Post by: TrMama on August 22, 2014, 11:50:32 AM
Read the tags very carefully to find out what the item is made of. Many items that say dry-clean only really mean, "do not wash in hot water with lots of agitation". Wool falls firmly in this category. It's perfectly fine for wool to get wet, you just have to be very, very careful not to felt it. This means cold water only and very, very little agitation. It will then take forever to dry and will need lots of ironing to make it look crisp again.

You may also not want to wash anything that's put together in a complicated way, like lined suit jackets. This is simply because the amount of ironing required afterward will be monumental (but still do-able).

Silk needs special care too,

Linen gets really soft with washing. If it's a shirt, wash the heck out of it. If its a crisp suit or has been coated with something to make it crisp, you don't want to wash that off.

Do some reading on how to care for the specific types of fabric you have.  Your washing machine should have a hand wash setting. Get friendly with it.

If an item is smelly, but not visibly dirty, try hanging it outside in the sun. Sunshine is fantastic at getting rid of odours.
Title: Re: At home dry-cleaning?
Post by: OSUBearCub on August 22, 2014, 12:26:32 PM
+1 on sunshine TrMama - I do this a lot

And I'm not saying the following to be boorish or argumentative - this comes from a few years dressing men in suits for a living:

I really disagree with the idea of putting any tailored or structured garment in the washing machine.  Yes you can try to iron it back into shape but it will never lay against the body the same way again.  The canvas (material between the outer fabric and inner, silky lining) is often just hand-tacked into place.  Full disclosure, machine sewn garments can have canvasing too but the stitching holding the canvas pieces place is still minimal.  You would have to get up under the lining to smooth and reposition these pieces after machine washing - ie separate the lining from the jacket to get up in there. 

All of this for items that don't need to be washed in the first place - you've got a minimum of two absorbent layers between you and the jacket (male or female), underwear and shirt/blouse.  (Trousers are a little more complicated but suffice to say I dressed a bunch of guys who managed to go commando most days and still didn't need to launder their pants after every wear - it's all about the lining and hygiene.)  Just air these types of garments properly for at least 24-48 hours between wears and you'll be just fine.
Title: Re: At home dry-cleaning?
Post by: yyc-phil on August 22, 2014, 04:49:00 PM
I love suits, and I am frugal, so the idea of spending a lot of money on dry-cleaning does not appeal to me. My wife had a consignment store, so I had a constant supply of suits that were not suitable for resale, so I experimented with machine machine wash at the "hand wash" and "delicate" settings, and believe me, the results are disastrous to say the least. You might be able to get away with ironing the pants back into shape, but there is very little chance that the jacket will ever be wearable. You have to bite the bullet, and have your suit dry-cleaned at least once a year, and "dry-cleaned" at home every week or so if you want to keep it fresh. My home-made recipe is simple: I spot clean visible stains with a clean white cloth and a solution of water and white vinegar or for tough stain with a hydrogen peroxide/water mix (try it in a non-visible area first), then I "dry-clean" it with my home-made Dryel system. I take that same white cloth and soak it in a solution of 1 cup warm water, 1 teaspoon borax, 1 teaspoon oxygen bleach and 3 drops essential oil, squeeze out the excess liquid, toss it into a “steam bag” (right now, I am using a large pillow case but I will be experimenting with various plastic bags soon) with the suit jacket and put it in the dryer for 30 minutes at low heat. Hang it to dry a bit, because the jacket will be a bit damp. Voilà. It does work well to refresh a suit every week or two, and requires little or no ironing when you take it out of the dryer.
Title: Re: At home dry-cleaning?
Post by: zinnie on August 22, 2014, 05:50:25 PM
I have found very few things that can be ruined by handwashing in cold water (as in, washing in the sink with your hands, not selecting "handwash" on the washing machine)

I wash in the sink with cold water this way: Fill up sink with soapy water, place item in and swirl around for a while. Drain sink and gently squeeze out item (do not wring out!). Fill sink again with water and swirl around again. Again, gently squeeze out. To dry, place fluffy towel on floor and lay item flat on top of it. Place another towel on top. Walk over the towel to draw the water out of the item. This is a great way to get most of the water out while still being very gentle with it. Hang up on a hanger (one that will maintain the right shape in the shoulders, for suit jackets), and steam when it is still wet, and again when it is dry.

This has been fine for all of those "dry clean only" items I own--dresses, silks, pants, and suit jackets.  The only thing I have ruined was one silk shirt where ALL of the color came out when it got wet. That doesn't seem to be the norm, though--I think it was just a poor-quality shirt.