The Truth Behind ‘Dry Clean Only’ Labels

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Wash Wizards 2-17-2016


If you are not sure if you really should dry clean your clothes, here is everything you need to know about those little labels.

The Wash WizardsIf you are thinking about dry cleaning, start with interpreting the label. Most manufacturers are required to list just one way to clean a garment. If the tag says dry-clean only, obey it. If it says dry-clean, that means that is the recommended method, not the only method.

First of all, consider the fabric. Unless the label suggests otherwise, bring silk, acetate, velvet, wool, and taffeta items to the dry cleaner. Cotton, linen, cashmere, polyester, acrylic, and nylon can usually be washed at home. Just check for color fastness first: Moisten a cotton swab with mild detergent and dab it on a hidden seam to see if any dye comes off.

And a second thing is to take special care of details. Often care instructions are for the fabric only―not the accents, which may be tacked on at another factory. That’s why you see “exclusive of decorative trim” on some tags. Before you wash anything with beading, sequins, and the like, make sure they are sewn on (you’ll see stitches, not glue) and colorfast (quickly dab a wet cotton swab over each type of accent to see if any dye comes off).

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