The dry clean only tag can be the bane of the girl on a budget. I’ve got a basket of dry cleaning that ashamedly has been piling up for a year. Word to the wise don’t ever under any circumstances follow suit. You’re better off not wearing your favorite pieces then letting stains sit and ruin them.

The problem is, dry cleaning is not cheap, especially since fashion brands have taken to stamping a dry clean only tag on just about everything.  But there are a lot of items you don’t actually have to dry clean.

Fair warning: wash at your own risk, but these are all rules I follow, and they haven’t failed me yet.

100% Rayon: Anything that is 100% rayon will usually tell you it has to be dry cleaned.  Not so. You can either hand wash in cold water, or wash on delicate in cold.  You have to line or hang dry. Don’t wring out the item, but press the water out.

Don’t freak if your favorite rayon dress looks smaller.  Rayon fabric tends to give the appearance of shrinking when washed, but when hung to dry, it will return to its regular shape.

Cashmere: It’s winter. You want to layer with cashmere.  But it gets costly to clean a sweater every time you wear it out.  Some emboldened ladies just wash and dry their cashmere, but The Laundress offers a Wool & Cashmere Shampoo.  Hand wash and line dry.

Quick tips and tricks:

  • Examine your clothes and spray stains with pre-soak spray.
  • Turn your clothes inside out.
  • Typical hand wash soak time is 30 minutes (and never soak silk for longer).
  • Test out a couple of pieces.  Be gentle and patient.  And you’re sure to see that dry cleaning bill whittle down.

-Arianna Schioldager

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