Here’s How You’re Accidentally Ruining Your Dry Clean-Only Garments

One of the first things you should do when shopping for new clothes is check the wash instruction label. While anything tumble or hand wash is fair game, you should select those “dry clean-only” pieces with care. They’re an investment — and you should treat them as such. While sending them to a professional dry cleaner is a cardinal rule, you might be wreaking havoc on these pieces unwittingly. Below are 10 lesser-known ways you’re destroying your dry clean clothes, and how to fix them.

1. Leaving your clothes in plastic garment bags

Get those garments out of the bags. | iStock.com/darak77

When we get our clothes back from the cleaners, most of us leave our shirts, blouses, and dresses in the plastic garment bags,only remove them once we’re ready to wear the piece in question. But little do we know, keeping our clothes nicely folded in these bags is ruining the pieces. Plastic traps in heat and moisture, so instead of letting your clothes air out, you’re trapping all that moisture in. It’s likely your clothes will already be soiled with grit by the time you wear them.

Laundry blog The Hanger Project recommends you store your clothes in a cotton twill garment bag. Your clothes will be able to breathe, plus it looks a lot more polished than having a bunch of plastic hanging out of your closet. And the next time you pick up the clothes from the cleaners, spend five minutes unwrapping and rehanging each piece. Trust us, it’s worth it.

2. Filling your closet with wire hangers

Clothes hanger

Invest in quality hangers — you’ll be glad you did. | iStock.com/iamnao

Most dry cleaners will return your clothes on thin wire hangers, but it’s important you ditch them, stat. According to Cosmopolitan, wire hangers are too flimsy to carry that chunky sweater and help it retain its natural shape. So, you might notice any clothes that have spent too much time on wire hangers may begin to look past their prime. In their place, opt for something sturdier.

3. Stuffing your closet

Clean out your closet instead of stuffing it to the brim. | iStock.com/DLMcK

Over the course of your life, you accumulate so many clothes, it’s possible your closet is filled to the brim with shirts, pants, dresses, and much more. But having a fully stocked wardrobe isn’t necessarily a good thing. According to The Huffington Postkeeping all your garments in such tight quarters can wear them out quickly. So what should you do? Well, for starters, clean out your closet. Do you really need seven white button-downs? Exactly. Once you hit the refresh button on your wardrobe, space each hanger a quarter inch apart.

4. Hanging everything

This might be a surprise, but not everything should go on a hanger. | iStock.com/Thatpichai

Even if you have the closet space doesn’t mean you should hang all your garments. While you should always hang up your shirts, skirts, and dresses, go ahead and fold items like sweaters, undergarments, and swimwear. Make sure to fold your pieces with care. After all, sloppy folding can ruin a garment’s natural shape.

5. Placing your out-of-season clothes in containers

Women's garment

Rotate your closet, but make sure you properly store items. | iStock.com/photon64

Every season, you should rotate out items you aren’t going to be wearing for the better part of a year. But the way you store those out-of-season clothes matters. “I loosely roll and pack things, because you don’t want creases, which are hard to get out. Imagine something that is folded for nine months,” professional organizer Ann Sullivan told The Huffington Post. “It impacts the integrity of the fabric. I always unfold it and there are little, yellowed lines.” If you want to keep the integrity of your clothes in tact, hang everything in a breathable garment bag.

6. Folding your leathers

Lady with red high heel

Leather should never, ever be folded. | iStock.com / grinvalds

Your closet can only hang so many items. While you may fold your selection of sweaters and pants, you might want to reconsider folding anything made of leather. As WhoWhatWear puts it, folding your freshly cleaned leather makes it easier for the pieces to crinkle. And since you can’t iron leather, back to the dry cleaners they go. Avoiding this senseless cycle is easy: Simply hang up your leather wares.

7. Using an adhesive lint brush

Getting a lint brush is a must, as long as you get the right kind. | iStock.com/ brianbalster

Even those top-tier sweaters, pants, and dresses collect lint every once in a while, so it’s important to have a lint brush on hand to keep pesky dust at bay. What you don’t know is the type of lint brush you use can harm your clothing. Case in point: Adhesive lint rollers. Sure, they’re the most accessible type of lint roller on the market. But in reality? They can leave a sticky residue that can ultimately discolor — or even worse, deteriorate — your fabric. If you want to play it safe, The Hanger Project recommends investing in a bristled lint brush.

8. Spritzing on all your cosmetics

Perfume bottles

Cosmetics can destroy dry cleaning, so apply before you get dressed. | iStock.com/Saddako

Slathering on perfume, deodorant, and moisturizer are non-negotiable. Unless you want your colleagues to refer to you as “she who stinks” or “the girl with the dry skin.” What’s even more important, you ask? Slapping on these morning essentials before you put on your clothes. All those chemicals you’re spritzing and rubbing onto your skin will likely get on your clothes and cause lasting residue stains, Martha Stewart’s site points out. Keep your clothes fresh by applying all your cosmetics while you’re in your towel or robe. It’s a win-win for everyone.

9. Dry cleaning your clothes too often

Be careful about how frequently you clean these delicate items. | iStock.com/ AndreyPopov

Yes, there is such a thing. We want our clothes in pristine condition, but sending the same dress to be cleaned every single week will eventually weaken the fabric. Plus, it’s not the most effective use of your money.

Simplify your next trip to the cleaners by taking a closer look at those instructional tags. While anything that says “dry clean only” should go to the cleaners, Cosmopolitan reports you can usually get away with throwing those “dry clean” garments in the wash, then line drying. But even if it’s mandatory to get them dry cleaned, we highly doubt you have to wash each piece every time you wear it.

But you can wash your dry clean only clothes

Washing machines and dryer

Those labels are a precaution, which means you can actually clean some of them yourself. | iStock.com/starush

You should definitely take your dry clean only garments to the cleaners, right? Well, think again. According to USA Today, those fateful “dry clean only” labels are slapped on your clothes as a precaution, so you can theoretically get away with washing some of your fussier pieces. The site further explains that you can slip your delicates into a mesh laundry bag, toss it into the wash, and forgo the dryer altogether. You can perform a spot test on your clothes if you’re slightly hesitant about throwing them in the wash. But if you’re anxiety is at an all-time high, save yourself the stress and just drop them off at the cleaners.

Follow Kelsey on Twitter @Kmulvs and Instagram @Kmulvs

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