Knowing just a few clothes care tips can save you tons of money on dry cleaning.
Step 1: Know what's really "dry clean only Take that "dry clean only" label with a grain of salt. Many silks, wools, and linens can be hand-washed safely in cold water. But be aware that silk is more susceptible to fading over time if it's hand laundered.
TIP: Never wash leather, suede, acetate, rayon, and fine silks. If you hand wash an item marked "dry clean only" and you ruin it, it is your responsibility.
Step 2: Do a quick test Before washing a "dry clean only" item, dip a small, inconspicuous edge of the garment in water. If it shrivels up, take it to the dry cleaner.
TIP: Pure silk, crepe de chine, shantung, and doupioni silk are good candidates for hand washing in cold water. Chiffon, georgette, taffeta, silk satin, and charmeuse should be dry-cleaned.
Step 3: Hang your clothes Hang your clothes as soon as you step out of them to reduce the chances that they'll get wrinkled or stained.
Step 4: Let clothes breathe Leave space around dry-clean-only clothes so they have a chance to breathe in your closet. Never leave them in plastic garment bags; humidity can get trapped in the bag and cause mildewing.
Step 5: Brush and air wool suits Lengthen the time between dry cleanings for your wool suits by wiping away surface dirt and lint with a garment brush after wearing and then letting them air out for a day or two.
Step 6: Freshen with DIY kits Use home dry-cleaning kits on unsoiled items that just need a bit of freshening. They're good at removing odors like smoke.
Step 7: Pay for pressings only Don't pay for dry cleaning just because you hate ironing: Launder easily wrinkled items at home and just pay the cleaner to press them.
Step 8: Avoid dry-clean-only items Limit the new items you buy that require dry cleaning. The costs add up fast, making a moderately-priced garment an expensive one in no time at all.
FACT: Scientists working for the U.S. Air Force have developed a self-cleaning fabric that repels water, oil, and bacteria.