Q. My cleaners have closed, and I don’t know when they may open again. I want to put away my winter clothes. How can I tell if washing them would be OK? Any advice?
A. Many clothes that are marked “Dry clean only” can be safely washed at home – you just need to follow the right steps. Those labels are often put on garments merely as a precaution, to protect the manufacturer. Whether they are really needed is often guesswork. But it is essential that you pay careful attention to a few important laundry guidelines.
Some clothes marked “Dry Clean” can go into washers and others should not. Ones that should not may need to be hand-washed. Suede, leather, most rayon, and any garments with fur are better left to the dry cleaning professionals. It may be wise to just wait for the professional cleaner to reopen for these and a few of your most beloved items. That said, cotton, linen, most polyesters, and some wool clothes are relatively safe to wash with a machine. Most silks, cashmeres, and loosely-woven wool knit sweaters are better treated by hand. Hand washing does require special attention. Still, if you are willing to invest a little extra effort, the process is not that complicated. To hand wash a garment, you need to:
- Use cool or warm water with a mild detergent in a sink
- Wash quickly without much soaking
- Rinse thoroughly with cool water
- Squeeze out the water