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Five Dry Clean Only Fabrics You Should Only Be Washing At Home | The Laundress

They don't call them delicates for nothin’! Delicate fabrics require a gentle approach to cleaning, but ironically, chemicals from the dry cleaner are actually super tough on them. Mind. Blown. Here, five dry-clean-only fabrics you can—and should—be laundering at home. (You can thank us for all the money and time you save on dry cleaning later.)

Start here

Before washing any of these fabrics, always test an inconspicuous area of your garment for water reactions before washing. Here’s how to do it.

Next, pretreat stains. If the stain is oil-based, lather a Wash & Stain Bar with cool water and rub it into discoloration. If it’s tannin-based (think juice, wine, coffee, or tea), use our Stain Solution. And for stains that seriously won’t let up, soak the garment in cool water for up to 30 minutes to allow the formula to sink in.

Silk

Step 1: Test For Color Bleeding

This kind of fabric is prone to bleeding, so it’s smart to test it first. Grab a small section of hem from the underside of the garment and dip it in warm water. If you see dye seep into the water, wash it individually (if it’s a solid color) to avoid staining other items. If it’s patterned, avoid washing at home.


Step 2: Hand Wash

Turn your silk inside out. Fill a basin or sink with cool water and add two capfuls of Delicate Wash. Submerge the item and gently swirl the water around with your hands until the detergent is fully dissolved. Soak for no longer than 30 minutes.


Step 3: Rinse

Run cool water over the garment until it rinses clean. Don't wring the garment! Instead, press excess water out with your hands or against the sink.


Step 4: Dry and De-Wrinkle

Hang to dry or lay the item flat in its natural shape. Once dry to the touch, steam to release wrinkles and bring out the silk’s natural luster. Between washes, a misting of Delicate Spray will banish icky odors and add a refreshing scent.

Wool & Cashmere

Step 1: Prep For Washing

Flip the item inside out to halt friction and fading while washing.


Step 2: Hand Wash

Add two capfuls of Wool & Cashmere Shampoo (many detergents can be harsh on your fabrics, but this one is pH-neutral and ultra gentle) to a basin or sink of cool water. Submerge the garment, agitate with your hands, then let it soak for 30 minutes. If you’d rather use the machine, place your item in a protective Mesh Bag and use the following settings: Cold water + woolens or delicate cycle + low tumble.


Step 3: Rinse

Run cool water over the item until it’s no longer soapy. Gently press against your sink to drain excess water—don’t wring or twist.


Step 4: Dry

Lay the garment flat on a drying rack or clean towel. To avoid damage and shrinkage, keep away from direct sunlight and sources of heat such as a radiator. In a rush? Lay your item flat on a towel then roll both upwards, as if you’re rolling a burrito. This will quickly sop up excess water.


Step 5: Remove Wrinkles & Pilling

Ironing can crush or flatten the natural pile of the yarns. Instead, steam to remove creases or give your garment a spritz of  Wool & Cashmere Spray. Pilling? For cashmere, glide a Sweater Comb over the area in one direction to remove them; for wool, use the Sweater Stone. Brushing your cashmere or wool between wears with a Cashmere Brush will also release the fabric’s natural oils and keep it looking new.

Velvet

Step 1: Know What Not To Wash

Some velvet items, like blazers, suits, and upholstery should only be dry cleaned. For at-home care, we recommend spot treating stains only with our Wash & Stain Bar and Lint-Free Cleansing Cloth: Wet the bar, gently work it into the stain, then remove soap and dirt with the cloth.


Step 2: Hand Wash

It’s the safest method for laundering your velvets. In a wash bin or sink of cool water, add a squirt of Delicate Wash, add your items, then mix with your hands. Allow to sit for up to 30 minutes.


Step 3: Rinse

Run cool water through the item until it rinses clear of soap.


Step 4: Dry

Press the garment to drain extra water. When it comes to drying, you have three options: You can air dry by laying the garment on a flat surface or drying rack, you can hang to dry, or you can put it in the dryer on the low heat and “fluff” settings (this prevents a crushed velvet look).


Step 5: De-Wrinkle

Never iron this type of fabric—it can crush or flatten the natural pile of the velvet. Steam instead. And because velvet is prone to dust, lint, and fuzz buildup, you can give it a brush with our Clothing & Upholstery Brush when you need.

Linen

Step 1: Know What Not To Wash

If your linen item is structured (like a suit or blazer with shoulder pads) or unlaunderable (such as upholstery) we don’t recommend washing. Instead, spot treat any staining. Scroll up to “Start Here” for the how-to. If you’re working with flax linen, which is prone to pit stains, yellowness, and general dinginess, presoak with a sprinkle of our All-Purpose Bleach Alternative in a basin of hot water for up to 30 minutes.


Step 2: Machine Wash

Wash your linen with Signature Detergent on the normal cycle with hot water. Add one capful each of All-Purpose Bleach Alternative for a boost of brightening power and Fabric Conditioner to soften and reduce static and wrinkles.


Step 3: Dry

Linen is sturdy enough to go in the dryer on high heat. It’s prone to wrinkling, so to make ironing easier, remove from the dryer before the cycle is up so that the fabric is still a bit damp. Then iron or stem on the highest temperature setting to loosen up creasing and lay flat to dry completely.