Dry Cleaning Is a Total Waste of Money If You Know These Simple Laundry Hacks

woman looking up while putting clothes in plastic

Instead of paying for dry cleaning, you can wash most of your delicate fabrics at home. | iStock.com/IPGGutenbergUKLtd

Dry cleaning is expensive. According to Business Insider, the average household spends about $500 a year on the service. What if you could cut that number in half by doing most of your delicate fabrics at home? You can — you just have to know how.

1. Do a spot test before you get to cleaning

Before you get to treating your garments at home, it’s a good idea to do a spot test. Place a small drop of water on an unseen portion of your garment, and a small amount of the detergent you plan on using as well. Next, gently rub a cotton swab over the area. If the fabric’s dye appears on the cotton swab, you probably can’t clean this garment with soap and water.

2. Turn your garments inside-out

dad and young children sorting laundry

Turn clothes inside-out before you wash to keep them looking like new. | monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images

If you’re washing something that just needs an overall re-fresh, and you’re not trying to get out a particular stain, be sure to turn your garments inside-out. This keeps the portion of the garment that’s usually seen protected and looking like new.

Wash your clothes inside out to keep them looking newer longer,” says Everyday Cheapskate. “Clothes get just as clean when washed inside-out.”

3. Use a mesh bag

mesh laundry bag

The bag protects delicate items. | bungoume/iStock/Getty Images

If you’re going to be using the washing machine, protect your delicate items by placing them in a mesh laundry bag. Protect them even further by running the machine on cold and using a light detergent. For mixed weight loads, A Cleaner World suggests saving “delicate fabrics from developing snags by placing them in mesh laundry bags before washing.”

4. Hand wash in something that gives you plenty of room

washing clothes in a bucket

A bucket or even the bathtub will work for washing clothes by hand. | tonivaver/iStock/Getty Images

Don’t be afraid to hand wash things (especially delicate, larger-scale fabrics like curtains) in the bathtub. You need to make sure you have enough room to really soak the fabric — sometimes a sink just doesn’t cut it. Additionally, always make sure wherever you’re washing your garments is clean prior to using it for your laundry needs.  

5. It’s called hand washing for a reason

hand-washing laundry

Treat fabric gently when you wash by hand. | tfexshutter/iStock/Getty Images

Once your tub or deep sink is filled with water and detergent, dip your fabric in the mixture. Next, gently rub the water into any trouble areas with your fingers. Use enough pressure to work the stain out, but not enough to hugely disturb the fabric or leave imprints. One your garment is clean, drain the basin and re-fill it just with cold water. Dip the fabric into the cold water until there’s no more soap left.  

6. Dry with a towel

towels in basket with washing machine in background

Towels can dry delicate fabrics. | humonia/iStock/Getty Images

When drying delicate fabrics, it’s important to never use the dryer. Instead, use a towel.

“Lay the garment on a towel. Roll up the towel with the clothing inside, squeezing gently to remove water. Unroll the towel and move the garment to a drier area of the towel,” instructs Reviewed. “Repeat this process until the fabric is no longer dripping, which will probably be 3 to 5 times. Then, lay it out flat to dry.”

7. At-home dry cleaning kits

Woolite dry cleaning kit

At-home dry cleaning kits are usually pretty inexpensive. | Amazon

At-home dry cleaning kits are always an option. You can buy this well-rated Woolite At Home Dry Cleaner for less than $20. If you’re looking for something a little more heavy-duty, you can buy this at-home dry cleaning machine from J.C. Penney (though it’ll cost you $1,999).  

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