How to Dry Clean Your Own Garment at Home

Dry cleaning is simply a process by which you clean your clothes using a solution other than water. You either can send your clothing to a professional dry cleaning facility or dry-clean your clothing at home yourself using a dry cleaning product commonly sold in supermarkets. Dry cleaning at home has a few advantages in that it is cheaper, more convenient and ensures that your clothing will not be mishandled except by your own hands. However, you also pay a price in that it is less efficient than professional dry cleaning.

Clerks and customer at dry cleaners
credit: Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images
At-home dry cleaning is best suited to clothing that is a bit dirty and need freshening up.

Choosing to Dry Clean

Checking the care labels on your clothing is the easiest way to find out if you should dry clean them or not. In general, you can safely hand- or machine-wash polyester and natural fibers such as cotton and linen unless their colors are likely to bleed. In contrast, you'll need to dry clean clothing made of suede, wool and the more delicate synthetic materials. You may also want to dry clean if parts such as sequins and beading are on your clothing that are too delicate to undergo machine-washing.

Selecting the Right Agent

You cannot dry clean as well at home as a dry cleaning business unless you have access to the same machines that they do. As a result, if your article of clothing is too delicate or too dirty, you should send it to a dry cleaner to get the best results. Most at-home dry cleaning products are fairly similar. Check the instructions to determine if they are appropriate for the fabric of the clothing that you intend to clean; additionally, choose a product with a scent that you like. Carefully read all instructions because the chemicals used in at-home dry cleaning products can sometimes be hazardous if used inappropriately.

Dry Cleaning Your Clothes

Most dry cleaning products contain a stain remover, pads for absorbing the stain remover once it is used, and the actual dry cleaning solution. You first use the stain remover to treat any particularly tough spots on your clothing, ensuring that you place the pads so that the solution does not seep onto the rest of the fabric. When complete, put your clothing along with the dry cleaning solution into your dryer. The dry cleaning solution typically comes within a moist towelette that will release the solution while it is in the dryer. You'll get better results if you zip up and button your clothing before putting them into a mesh bag for cleaning.

Alternatives to At-Home Dry Cleaning

Some clothing that can be dry cleaned cannot be dry cleaned at home. Either at-home dry cleaning is inappropriate for the clothing material, or it is too dirty to be easily cleaned without using stronger solutions. For example, you absolutely should not dry clean leather at home, although you can find other at-home cleaning options for leather. Similarly, if your clothing is heavily soaked in an oil-based solution, at-home dry cleaning products will not be nearly strong enough to clean them.

Alan Li

Alan Li started writing in 2008 and has seen his work published in newsletters written for the Cecil Street Community Centre in Toronto. He is a graduate of the finance program at the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Commerce and has additional accreditation from the Canadian Securities Institute.