dry cleaning at home

How To Dry Clean At Home

I’ve always wondered how to dry clean at home.  I try not to buy dry clean only clothes, but sometimes unsuspecting dry clean only clothing works it’s way into my wardrobe.  More often than not this happens when I’ve bought clothes on eBay and haven’t been able to inspect the care label.  These items will inevitably end up in the laundry basket and sadly never see the light of day again.

I’m a bit loathe to dry clean my clothes, you see.  The most commonly dry cleaning chemical used is perchloroethylene, a carcinogenic and neurotoxic chemical linked to higher incidences of leukemia and tumors in dry cleaning staff, and who knows to what effect to those wearing dry cleaned clothes.  To add to this, dry cleaned clothing is hung on plastic hangers and wrapped in plastic adding to it’s environmental impact.   If we can lessen this impact by bypassing the dry cleaners then I’m all for that.

I’ve never known the right way to dry clean at home, so some attempts at home dry cleaning have been successful.  The “dry clean only” coat I’ve worn every winter for the last five years has been gently machine washed time and time again and still looks fresh as a daisy.  Other times the odd item of clothing has come to a sad end at the hands of my washing machine – RIP my lovely but synthetic pleated skirt circa 2006.

Thankfully for me, and for you, I’ve recently come across this guide from the wonderful Yumi Sakugawa over on WonderHowTo.com on how to dry clean at home that helps take the guess work out of dry cleaning:

How To Dry Clean At Homehow to dry clean at home

Of course, if you are in any doubt, or if an item of clothing is particularly special to you, then do use a dry cleaners.  I don’t want to be responsible for ruining your wedding dress or bespoke suit!  I have heard of dry cleaners that don’t use perchloroethylene but at present I don’t know enough about them to vouch for their environmentally friendliness.

ps: 12 natural stain remover tips to remove almost any stain from your clothes.


  1. Woolite is actually, weirdly, not great for wool. For stuff like 100% wool sweaters, I recommend getting a no-rinse wool wash of the sort marketed to knitters for washing finished knit items. (Brands i’ve used are Eucalen and Soak, but I’m in the US. You can find Eucalen on Amazon, but knitting stores and websites are good sources. A tiny bottle lasts forever.) This stuff is easy to use because it contains lanolin and is meant to be left in the fiber–swish a wool item around a bit by hand with a capful of the wash, don’t bother trying to rinse it out, and it acts like a leave-in conditioner for the fiber.

  2. What about clothes that are lined? I’ve been washing “dry clean only” clothes for years, mostly without disasters, but things with linings are scary. When they get wet, the lining fabric almost always shrinks at a different rate than the outer fabric and goodbye garment. Do you have any tips for cleaning those at home?


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