The lovely Bekster popped this request into a comment:
I’d be interested to see some tips for how to launder trickier wardrobe items. What might make it easier to keep clothes looking nice and fresh at home, and when is it time just to take something to the cleaners?
I hate dry cleaning. I mean, doesn’t everyone? Talk about an expensive hassle that ruins the environment. BAH! So I’ve got a few tricks in my bag to help me avoid Martinizing my garments as long as possible.
- Hand-washing: Check your tags, people. And if you’re willing to risk it, remember this – most natural fibers do not need to be dry cleaned. They may last longer and look better dry cleaned, but strictly speaking? Not necessary. Silk, linen, wool, cotton, and rayon can all be hand washed in very cold water and a mild detergent, then line-dried or laid flat to dry.*
- The Toothbrush Method: If you’re like me, your garments really only get stinky in the pits. Add a drop of detergent to a cup of cold water, then try a little scrubbing with an old toothbrush. It’ll take out old crusted-on deodorant and alleviate pit-stink.
- Febreze: I find this product to have limited use, but it can do in a pinch. For sweaters and blazers that only have a little bit of odor, I turn them inside-out, hang them up, spritz a few times, and let the Febreeze sink in for several hours.
- Dryel: Again, this stuff is not foolproof and truly works best on sweaters. But since most of my potential dry cleaning IS sweaters, I do invest in a box every few months.
- Layering: In winter, I put a short-sleeved cotton tee under my sleeveless dresses. Then I layer my blazer or cardi on top and no one even knows that tee is there. BUT! When I strip down at night? The tee goes in the wash, and the dress goes back in the closet, smell-free. Some creative layering with washables can save you loads in cleaning costs.
As for cleanliness guidelines, those are super personal. As you have probably gathered, I consider something dirty when it smells bad and am a big believer in The Sniff Test. Of course, stained or soiled garments are dirty, too, but that goes without saying.
I generally only launder something if it is smelly, super-rumpled, or has been worn several times without being cleaned. Kasmira did a great post on clothes and cleanliness, and I pretty much follow her guidelines. But, again, to each her own. Some are really ooked out by germs and or have other cleanliness concerns. But my impression is that laundering something over and over wears it out faster than wearing it “dirty,” so I’m inclined to launder as a last resort.
*DISCLAIMER! Just reemphasizing that this is “at your own risk.” In theory, natural fibers should be just fine. But I really only recommend shirking garment care instructions on old, thrifted, or unimportant garments. Things do go awry, and I don’t want you cursing my name if they do …
Image courtesy Will Hastings
**Disclosure: Actions you take from the hyperlinks within this blog post may yield commissions for alreadypretty.com. See Already Pretty’s disclosure statement for more details. Sustainable options are either used, handmade, made in the U.S., artisan made in non-sweatshop conditions, or made using sustainable/fair trade practices.
Originally posted 2010-01-12 06:42:00.