How To Get a Dry Clean Finish When You Wash Your Clothes at Home

Think of how much money you would be able to save if you could do your dry cleaning at home. Read on to learn the simple steps.


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If you are a regular user of delicate fabrics like silk, wool, velvet and so on, you will know that it requires extra care and tender handling, especially while washing them.

When Can You Dry Clean Your Clothes At Home?

If you check the wash care label on these garments, it often mentions ‘dry clean only’. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions in order to keep them looking their best. If the care label suggests ‘dry clean only’, simply take the garment to the professional dry cleaners. Garments with heavy embroidery work or sequins are more challenging to wash at home. You may not be able to achieve that dry clean finish at home for heavily embroidered clothing items. 

However, if the label simply says ‘dry clean’, you can wash such clothing articles at home. Of course, you will have to adjust your washing technique. Regular wringing and twisting of the fabric can damage your garment irrevocably. 

The washing technique to be employed will depend on the type of fabric. For example, delicate fabrics like silk and wool should be hand washed. Fabrics like cotton, polyester, nylon and spandex can be machine washed.    

But before we get onto how to dry clean clothes at home, you need to know how to treat the stains on the clothes that need dry cleaning. 

Ingredients to keep handy:

a) A Microfibre cloth

b) Mild detergent

c) Warm water

d) Steam cleaner or steam iron


Method 1: Spot Treat the Stains

  1. Step 1: Treat the Stain

    Soak a microfibre cloth in warm water. Squeeze the cloth to eliminate the moisture. Pour a few drops of liquid detergent on the cloth and dab the stained areas of your garment with the microfibre cloth. Keep at it until the stain is lifted off the fabric. 

  2. Step 2: Allow Air-Drying

    Once the stain is cleaned, allow the stained portion of the garment to air dry thoroughly. Place the garment in a well-ventilated area.

  3. Step 3: Store Away

    Store away the garment as you usually do.

Method 2: Using Steam Cleaner

  1. Step 1: Put Detergent in Steamer

    If you do not own a clothes steamer, you can also use the steam function in your iron. Add 1-2 drops of liquid detergent along with the water. This method is very effective for removing stains from silk garments. 

  2. Step 2: Steam Your Garment

    Run the steamer over the stained areas of your garment. The stains will be lifted off the fabric.

  3. Step 3: Allow Air-Drying

    Spread out the garments neatly on a flat surface and allow them to dry thoroughly.  

How to Dry Clean Clothes at Home?

As explained earlier, there are two methods to achieve the desired dry clean finish: Hand washing and machine washing. The washing technique you employ will depend on your fabric. If you have a ‘hand wash’ cycle on your washing machine, you can use that. 

Ingredients to keep handy: 

a) Mild detergent 

b) Tub of cold water 

c) Fabric conditioner

Method 1: Hand Wash Your Clothes

  1. Step 1: Check for Colour Bleed

    Rub a damp cotton swab on the insides of your garment. If there’s no colour on the white cotton swab, you can be sure that it is safe to wash your garment at home. 

  2. Step 2: Wash Your Clothes

    Add 3-4 drops of mild detergent in a tub full of cold water. Delicate garments made from silk, wool and cotton require extra care and using a mild detergent can work wonders. We recommend Love and Care, which is available in the market. Soak your silk/wool garments in the water for no more than 30 minutes. You can add few drops of a fabric conditioner to it, if you want to add a mild fragrance. You can try Comfort Core. It is easily available in the market. It keeps the fibres intact, thus making the fabric soft and smooth. It also adds a mild fragrance to the fabric. Check the pack to understand correct usage instructions. Rinse with cold water. 

  3. Step 3: Air Dry

    Wrap your silken or woollen garments in a towel and press it gently to remove excess water. You must dry your delicate fabrics in a shaded place away from direct sunlight. Please note that woollen clothes should always be laid out on a flat surface. 

Method 2: Machine Washing Your Clothes

Step 1: Put the Clothes in Mesh Bag 

Turn your garment inside out and place them in a mesh bag. Using the mesh bag will ensure that your garment does not snag against the machine drum. Aggressive twisting and turning of the garment can ruin it forever. Delicate fabrics can even end up tearing. 

Step 2: Set the Machine Cycle 

Use cold water on a gentle cycle for the wash. To preserve the colour and smoothness of your garment, use a mild detergent. Run the wash for the shortest duration possible. You do not want to damage your garment by exposing it to water for too long. 

Step 3: Get Rid of Excess Moisture 

Please note that you cannot use the spin function of your washing machine or the tumble dryer for ‘dry clean only’ clothing items. The heat from the dryer can ruin your delicate garment. Once the wash cycle is over, take out your piece of clothing, lay a towel on a flat surface and place your garment on it. Do not wring as it can damage the shape of your garment. Roll up the towel and press it gently to remove excess moisture. You must use a light coloured towel that has been washed many times before. A new towel that bleeds colour can ruin your expensive garment. So, be careful. 

Step 4: Air Dry 

Unroll the towel and lay out your garment on a flat surface, away from direct sunlight. Sunlight can cause fading. Let your garment air dry in a shaded place. Ensure that the room is well-ventilated. You do not want your expensive designer wear to end up smelling musty. To fasten up the drying process, you can lay it under the fan. Or even hang in on the clothesline using a wooden clothes hanger.  

Why run to the dry cleaner’s when you can achieve the same dry clean finish within the comforts of your home. You may not notice this, but eliminating the dry cleaning expense can contribute significantly towards your savings. Try out these washing methods the next time you read dry clean on your clothes’ care label. 

To save yourself from a potential laundry disaster, always sort and organize your laundry. Make separate piles for light and dark coloured clothes. Do not mix your delicate intimate wear with your regular clothes. Wash all of them separately. For example: Put all your innerwear in one load, all towels in another.   

Originally published