Dry cleaning is a technique that allows you to wash fragile clothes that would not withstand a cycle in an ordinary washing machine. It avoids the use of water that can damage the fibers of certain fabrics and uses liquid solvents (contrary to what the name suggests) that protect the textile. On the label of your garment, the letters "P" or "F" indicate which type of solvent to use: "P" for common solvents, and "F" for petroleum solvents.
BUT, when you read "dry clean only" on the care label of the piece of clothing you just bought, you are rarely enthusiastic. Dry cleaning is quickly expensive, not necessarily ecological (cf. solvents used) and it needs to be organized. So sometimes we'd like to do without, especially since most clothing labels recommend dry cleaning simply to avoid problems (not at HABILE, of course).
Rest assured, there are alternatives for some of your wardrobe: hand wash, machine wash on a gentle cycle, or use a dry cleaning kit at home.
This will take more time, but will allow you to get back to respectful maintenance of your clothes and thus to be part of an authentic and virtuous process of conservation of your wardrobe. Clever, isn't it?
Wool or silk garments: delicate hand washing always possible
Nothing is safer than washing in your sink the old fashioned way, think about it...
- Prepare a cold soapy water (Marseille soap or mild detergent)
- Soak the garment in it, gently
- Rub stained areas (such as underarms or collar) with fingertips.
- Rinse thoroughly in clear, cold water
- Lay the item out on a clean absorbent towel. To remove excess water, carefully wring it out, rolled in the towel, without wringing out and thus damaging the fibers.
- Dry flat in a dry place
Forlinen, polyester and most knits (mohair, cashmere and even angora) : machine washable
- Choose the most delicate cycle with a mild detergent. The water must be cold to avoid any risk of shrinkage
- Lay your delicate items flat to dry after the wash cycle. The dryer is the real enemy of your fragile clothes.
Forsilk, polyester or other fragile fabrics with small stains: clean at home with a dry cleaning kit (sold in most department stores and drugstores): It consists of a bottle of stain remover, wipes and a dry cleaning bag.
- Dab small stains with the stain remover, after testing on a hidden area and carefully reading the posted instructions.
- Slide the garment into the case provided, with a wipe. Make sure to close the zippers and buttons and empty the pockets.
- Place the bag in the dryer, set on the short cycle and only at low temperature. Once the cycle is finished, take the bag out.
- Hang the garment on a hanger to smooth it out.
Woolen coats often require special cleaning (see care label). It is best to brush it regularly and remove stains with a damp cloth soaked in soapy water and a little lemon juice.
Special cases: no alternative to dry cleaning
- Leather, suede, fur, certain velvets, acetate-based garments or certain very fragile textiles have no alternative to dry cleaning
- Delicate textiles, with beads, sophisticated folds or seams cannot escape either
- Viscose can shrink in the hand wash or in the machine after the first wash.
So, for those who are still addicted to dry cleaning, at least try the ecological pressings. At the very least, ask your dry cleaner about the nature of the solvents used (especially avoid perchloroethylene, which was banned in 2012 but is still sometimes used). Their "green" cleaning solution is intended to respect the environment and human beings by using entirely natural products. To be HABILE is to think ethically and rationally!