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Your Personalized Care Guide Results

Which "Dry Clean Only" Items Actually Need To Be Dry Cleaned?

Can You Dry Clean At Home?

Yes, it is possible to wash "dry clean" tagged items at home! Some clothes and fabrics that are labeled as “dry clean” can be washed at home with cold water and delicate detergents designed for gentle cleansing.

Word to the Wise: No matter which water temperature, laundry product, or wash cycle you select to wash your clothes, certain fabrics simply cannot be hand washed, and are under no circumstances machine washable fabrics. We don't typically encourage dry cleaning when washing is possible, however, for a handful of fabrics the only option for safe cleaning is taking your item to the professionals. That being said, in many instances you can provide "dry clean" level care by gently laundering or steam cleaning at home. Read on to learn how to "dry clean" at home and which items fall within the percentage of garments that simply should be taken to the professionals.

Viscose & Polyamide

Viscose is a semi-synthetic fabric that is made from regenerated cellulose and is known for its smooth, silk-like texture. Viscose dyes well and has a lustrous finish. Wondering how to wash viscose or whether viscose can be washed? You’re not alone. Viscose clothing care isn’t always straightforward. 

To properly care for viscose, first understand that viscose is a type of rayon. Although many rayons can be washed (be sure to check the tag!), viscose has been known to shrink or warp to extreme proportions. Shrinkage when laundering viscose does happen, so take special care when laundering this fabric. Unless the garment is specifically marked washable and/or you have completed a water test, we recommend avoiding washing at home. Viscose is generally not machine washable unless marked otherwise. We do not recommend taking the risk of laundering as the shrinkage, elongation, distortion, or puckering that can occur is typically not reversible.

What is the proper viscose fabric care regimen? Viscose has a very high shrinkage factor. Unless your viscose item is clearly labeled as washable with viscose washing instructions included on the tag, you shouldn’t attempt machine or hand washing it.

If you’re not sure about an item, it’s best to play it safe and dry clean or steam clean at home - otherwise, you might risk irreversible fabric damage. While our philosophy is centered around washing your fabrics, and dry cleaning at home to help reduce your dry cleaning bills, in some cases, it’s best to leave your beloved little black dress or heirloom scarf in the hands of an experienced professional. 

Example: Our often-cited “why is viscose not washable” example is the classic black matte wrap dress by Diane Von Furstenberg. It shrinks to half its size! 

Viscose can wrinkle, so if your viscose item is wrinkled, but not dirty, you should consider steaming at home with a fabric steamer. Steaming is a great way to lift odor and can help save money by skipping the dry cleaners. Does something smell off? Get that “clean laundry smell” between cleanings by spritzing your viscose items with your favorite fabric refreshing spray after steaming.

Polyamide is often blended with viscose or rayon. We don’t recommend washing items that contain polyamide since this fabric can expand or warp when laundered. Gwen once washed her favorite pants that were made of a polyamide blend, and they grew to twice their size! 

Example: Women’s blazers and suit pants (especially those that have lining and structure)

Care tag on garment

Items with Manufactured Pleating

These items have pleats that are not sewn in. Instead of permanently stitching the pleats into place, the manufacturer created them using a heat source. The pleats may not be preserved during washing and cannot be replicated. Steam pleated items for an at-home refresh if necessary, and store hanging to preserve pleating.

Pleated blouse

Structured Items

These are items made with structured material inside - such as padding and interfacing - that can become dislodged when washing. These items generally cannot be washed. However, you can freshen them and sometimes spot treat stains, depending on the fabric makeup of the item.

Examples: Neckties, blazers with shoulder pads

Blazer texture


If the item is labeled “Not Washable” or “Dry Clean Only” don’t wash it! Certain finishes on suede will allow it to be safely washed however, but only if tagged as such (typically only faux suede is washable). When in doubt, take to a leather professional.

Suede swatch up close

Leather Labeled Not Washable

We don't like to give specific cleaning advice for leather as this material has many different options for finishes, which makes it impossible for us to know which type you're working with. Our general guideline for leather is as follows:

Leather labeled "Not Washable": If a leather item is labeled "Not Washable" or "Dry Clean Only" don't wash it. Trust us.

Leather labeled "Washable": We have successfully washed many leather items labeled "Washable" as well as non-leather items with leather trim: patches, collars, zip pulls, and binding. Simply test the leather item before you wash it. Look for discoloration, spots, or other changes once the area has dried. Most leather used for detail or trim is washable.

Leather Trim: We have successfully washed many leather trim items labeled "Dry Clean" or "Dry Clean Only." Most leather trim is made from "garment washed" leather. This type of leather has already been washed during the production stage, which means it should now be washable as part of the garment.

Examples: Sweaters with patches and trim, accessories with collars, and pants with patches

Leather swatch up close

Fur With Skin

Fur with skin cannot be washed: We don't recommend washing fur that has skin on the underside. The skin can shrink or dry out with wet washing.

Example: A traditional fur coat

Fur without skin may be washed: Fur that is knitted or lacks an attached skin can wash beautifully. Always use Wool & Cashmere Shampoo.

Example: A fur scarf

Vintage fur should not be washed: Older fur is often brittle and frail and may disintegrate during washing.

Example: An older sweater with a fur collar, found in the attic

Black fur swatch up close

How to Reduce Your Dry Cleaning

Most people send items to be dry cleaned because they are wrinkled or because they no longer smell fresh. If the item isn’t actually dirty, you don’t need to take it to the dry cleaners. Instead, save money and reduce wear on the item by freshening between cleanings—we recommend steaming. Not only will steam cleaning release wrinkles, but hot steam also eliminates odors. Steaming works well for “Dry Clean Only” items as well as items that are not readily washable, such as upholstery, etc.

Viscose care tag
Pleated skirt hanging on clothing line
Suede swatch

Disclaimer: All techniques are based on textile science. Not all garments perform and react as science would predict.