4 Easy Ways to Wash a Dry Clean Only Coat at Home

Read the Label

Even if you plan to defy it, take a long look at the care tag before you wash, and understand what the symbols on it mean. Doing that will tell you the fiber the clothing item is made from and help you decide the method you’ll use for cleaning clothes.


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Credit: Getty Images

Always check the tag before you wash. It will tell you what fiber the garment is made from and show you symbols that explain how to care for it.

So, ready to get started? These fabrics are almost always fair game. Our guide to cleaning every kind of fabric provides detailed directions on how to wash them. • Cotton • Linen • Wool • Polyester • Nylon • Acrylic

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Credit: Getty Images / coolvectormaker

You don’t have to memorize the fabric care symbols, but definitely keep a chart like this handy when you’re washing your dry clean only clothing.

Suede and Leather Care

While suede is not something that the Laundress ladies recommend doing a thorough cleaning of at home, there are some workarounds. For example, if needed, you can steam your suede clothes to remove wrinkles, freshen, and eliminate bacteria. But remember, you absolutely cannot iron suede, as ironing will crush or flatten the nap. For added fresh scent, spritz a fabric freshener, such as Fabric Fresh Classic, for a clean laundry scent and is made with ingredients that have antibacterial properties.

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Leather follows along the same long: if a leather item is labeled “not washable” or “dry clean only” don’t wash it at home. However, if a leather item is labeled washable, or is a non-leather item with leather trim, whether that be patches, collars, zip pulls, and binding, you can test them by doing a spot test on an inconspicuous area. To spot test, wet a clean, white, lint-free cloth and blot the item.

Look for discoloration, spots, or other changes once the area has dried. If these appear, do not wash it. If the item passes the test, you can proceed by turning it inside out and placing it into a mesh washing bag. Set your machine to the delicates cycle and make sure the water temperature is cold and the spin to low, and to wash with a detergent for delicates.

Or if you prefer to hand wash, fill a basin, sink, or tub with cool or cold water, add delicate wash and the item, swirl mixture with hands, then allow to soak for 30 minutes before rinsing and pressing water out with hands. Boyd reminds, “Don’t wring!”

Lay the item item in its natural shape on a drying rack or hang to dry. Be sure to position the item properly on a hanger to prevent stretching. Do not put in the dryer!

And to make sure you give your leather clothes that you washed the ultimate finish, steam to remove wrinkles and freshen between washes with a delicate spray.

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OPTION 1: Use a dry-cleaning kit

A popular option for at-home dry cleaning is purchasing a ready-made kit that’s meant to be used with your dryer. First, use the included spot treatment to remove any stains. Next, place the clothing in the dryer with a pad that’s pre-soaked in cleaning solution and then dampened by the user. The heat from the dryer essentially steams the clothing so that it never needs to get wet.

There are plenty of readily available options for sale online, including the Dryel At-Home Mega Dry Cleaner Starter Kit and Woolite’s At-Home Dry Care Cleaner, both available on Amazon.

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How Much Does Dry Cleaning Cost?

An average men’s shirt costs $1.85 to dry clean, while a woman’s shirt costs an average of $5. Suits cost $9.50 to $12.50 to clean, and long coats cost an average of $15. Women often pay more for their dry cleaning because their clothes are more likely to have special seams, extra buttons, trims, silk, and no-crease slacks that cost more to clean.

If you have a blouse or shirt that has a basic design, have your husband drop it off with his shirts. While the dry cleaner may still charge the higher price for female clothing, there is a chance that they will assume that it was your husband’s shirt and charge the lower price.

Hand Wash Your Dry Clean Only Clothes

Another option is hand washing. To hand-wash, use a clean sink or basin. Fill the tub with cold water and add a small amount of a mild detergent, like Woolite.

Test a small spot before you get carried away. Do a quick test and ensure you’re not going to destroy the color. The last thing you want is dye bleeding out of your clothes. A cotton swab can be handy for this task.

Mix until the water appears sudsy.

Dip your clothing in and out of the water until it’s saturated, then gently rub any soiled areas softly with your fingers.

When you feel confident that the garment is clean, empty the sink or basin and fill it with cold water, this time without soap. Dip the item in and out of the water until it’s no longer soapy.

Leaving soap on the item can damage it in the long

Leaving soap on the item can damage it in the long run so rinse gently but thoroughly.

To dry, lay the garment on a clean dry towel.

Roll up the towel with the clothing inside, pushing on it gently to remove water. Unroll the towel and move the garment to a drier area of the towel.

Repeat this process until the fabric is no longer dripping.

Then, lay it out flat to dry. Do not hang it because it can lose shape on a hanger while it’s wet.

OPTION 4: Use a clothing steamer

Steam cleaning is a popular alternative to traditional laundering. While this method doesn’t work for heavily soiled clothes, it’s a great option for freshening up suits, dress shirts, and other items between wears. The heat generated from a clothing steamer kills bacteria on the fabric, which in turn prevents unwanted odors. As an added bonus, steaming also removes wrinkles.

Rather than investing in a clothing steamer, you can also use the “steam” setting on your iron and simply hold it a couple of inches away from the fabric.

So, what’s the alternative at home?

It’s important to remember that if you’re doing it at home, it’s not going to be dry cleaning, per se. You’re going to have to hand wash. But, as a rule, hand-washing is always the gentlest way to wash and preserve your delicate items or items considered “dry clean” such as silk, some synthetics, lace, wool, cashmere, and other knits. Some other items that should ideally be treated by hand (and not in the washer and dryer) if you’re maintaining them at home are embellished items, bathing suits, bras, and delicate underwear.

The explanation is simple: “[Hand-washing] increases the longevity of textiles by preserving fibers and detailing. In a washing machine, delicate fabrics can snag inside the drum and disrupt the fibers or detailing, and using a water temperature that’s too warm or a spin cycle that’s too aggressive can also disrupt delicate fabrics,” says Whiting.

However if you find yourself in a pinch with certain delicates, there are some workarounds, to make using the washing machine a little more safe. First, use the right detergent (preferably plant-based and made for delicates, or if you’re washing a sweater, wool & cashmere shampoo) and cool water. Another added safety precaution is putting said delicates in a mesh bag to prevent snagging during the wash cycle.

Wash by hand or machine

Ready to wash your clothes? Pick your washing method carefully. Here’s how to deal with delicate duds.

To wash by hand

Start with a clean sink or basin when hand washing. Swish carefully in cold water to keep each article of clothing, especially sweaters and other knits, looking beautiful. Part of good care is selecting the right detergent for the job. Don’t automatically go for detergent you pour into your washer. A mild detergent will give far better results. Whether you favor a few drops of baby shampoo, a small amount of Woolite, or a squirt of Eucalan, it will treat your clothes more kindly. Drain the soapy water out, refill the basin for a cold water rinse and press out the suds till the water is clear.

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Credit: Getty Images / Tanya Lovus

Hand wash delicate clothing using a mild detergent instead of the stuff you usually pour in your washer. Treat them gently, or you might wish you’d taken your clothes to the cleaners.


To machine wash

Select a cold water delicate or wool cycle on your washing machine, and for best results, tuck each clothing item into a separate mesh bag. Pull your laundry out of the washing machine as soon as the cycle ends.

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Some more delicate clothes are safe to machine wash if you put them in a laundry bag before you pop them in your washer. Turn them inside out before you do.

To dry

A delicate cycle can leave lots of water in the clothes. That’s on purpose—it doesn’t spin them hard. Step away from the dryer—these clothes are not going in there. Lay each wet garment on a towel. Roll up the towel with the clothing inside, pressing gently to remove water. Unroll the wet towel and move the garment to a dry towel. Then, lay it flat to dry.

About this article

Co-authored by: Safir Ali Professional Dry Cleaner This article was co-authored by Safir Ali. Safir Ali is the Co-Founder and CEO of Hamper Dry Cleaning and Laundry, a startup in Houston, Texas reinventing the laundry industry. With over six years of experience launching and operating Hamper, Safir specializes in innovative ways to simplify dry cleaning using the experience from his family’s business. Safir holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and Management from Texas A&M University. Hamper offers 24/7 on-demand dry cleaning and laundry through delivery and kiosk services. Hamper has been featured on the Houston Rockets, Station Houston, the Houston Business Journal, BBVA, Yahoo Finance, and Innovation Map. This article has been viewed 877,138 times. How helpful is this? Co-authors: 11 Updated: February 21, 2022 Views: 877,138

Article SummaryX

Before you wash a dry clean only garment, make sure it is made from wool, silk, or cotton because other fabrics need to be professionally cleaned. If they are made from those more durable fibers, fill a bucket will cold water and some soap flakes or detergent like woolite. Dip the garment in that water multiple times and rub any soiled areas until they are cleaned. Then, wrap the garment in a towel and squeeze the excess water out of it before you hang it up to dry. Keep reading to learn how to machine wash cotton, linen, and polyesters!

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Thanks to all authors for creating a page that has been read 877,138 times.

Can you wash something that is dry clean only?

The truth is that most ‘dry clean’ only items can be washed at home with little time and effort. Cottons, linens, and durable polyesters can be washed in the washing machine on a normal cycle with an everyday detergent at a low temperature. You can also turn the garment inside out and use a mesh laundry bag to minimise any potential damage. Most wool and silk garments can be washed at home with a delicate product and the correct technique.