Baby Skint loves the washing machine. Honestly, sitting in her bouncy chair, watching the clothes go round, she’s agog. Yesterday she wasn’t the only one – I was too. For what seemed like an age, both she and I were in front of the machine, watching clothes spin, me chewing my fingers, just like her, and praying for all to be well. The reason? Inside that machine was my favourite jacket – which just happens to be dry clean only.
I love this jacket. Whenever I wear it I am always reminded, rather bizarrely, of a toy soldier marching through the streets and, even more bizarrely, I like the feeling. Anyway, a couple of weeks ago a large brownish stain appeared on the collar, so I marched it to the dry cleaners. When it came back still stained the shop didn’t charge me to run it through again, but after another go, when the stain hadn’t budged, the sales assistant shook her head. There was nothing more she could do she said, but then glancing round to check that no-one was watching – I’m sure what followed would have been grounds for her dismissal – she leaned forward on the counter and lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper. ‘Try it in the machine,’ she urged.
I was gobsmacked. Wasn’t washing dry clean only clothes breaking the rules? ‘Give it a go!’ the woman coaxed, as persuasive as the serpent cajoling Eve.
And so, yesterday morning I stood in front of the washing machine, pondering her words. I loved this jacket. I wanted it to survive. But it was unwearable at the minute. And presumably the sales assistant must have had some basis for her advice. After ten minutes of dithering I put it in a net bag, on a delicates cycle and held my breath. Never has a washing cycle seemed so long. Never has a garment seemed so crumpled and unloved on its escape.
But, once I’d placed it on a hanger and pulled out its creases and checked whether it had shrunk (it hadn’t), I could clearly see that the stain had disappeared. And after the jacket was dried and pressed today it looks as good as new, and I’m already counting how much I’m going to save on by washing dry clean only clothes from now on. I normally take items to the cleaners four at a time to take advantage of deals – four items usually sets me back £15. But sometimes I can’t wait till I’ve got four and put separate items in to be cleaned at a cost of maybe £8 a pop. I wonder how much I’ll be saving now, because whilst I’m still going to take coats and really delicate stuff to the cleaners, the rest is going in the machine.
It got me wondering: do clothes manufacturers sew in Dry Clean labels just to cover themselves? Maybe they don’t want complaints about how their blouses shrink when washed – easier just to say the garment’s to be dry cleaned and transfer responsibility to the buyer. I’ve got an ordinary cotton blouse whose care label says Dry Clean and frankly, there is no reason in the world why this should be so. The blouse doesn’t shrink, the colour doesn’t run, it’s made of sturdy stuff. I’ve always washed it cos I could tell it would be fine – but had I listened to the label I’d be about a hundred pounds worse off by now. My jacket was another matter though. I really did think it might not survive.
So, aren’t I the rebel? You can keep your drink and drugs: popping a dry clean item in the wash at the weekend is the new rock and roll. Have you done the same? With success or disaster? Let me know . . .
PS: Don’t wash these at home:
- Anything furry: whether fake or the real thing, fur and water don’t mix
- Anything with lots of beadwork or sequins
- Anything suede or leather – obviously
- Anything without a care label, if you don’t know what the fabric is
- Anything super-special, like a wedding dress
PPS: some great sites on how to care for clothes
- garmentcare – the level of detail on this site makes me smile. Whether you want to learn to iron like a pro or fix a stuck zip, this site’s got it covered.
- stainexpert – tells you how to get rid of just about any stain you can think of.
- MyStain app – when that klutz at the bar has just spilled red wine on your new summer skirt, this little free app will see you right while you’re on the move. Puts an end to all those white-wine-or-salt debates that come up every time!
- And for the Skint guys out there, I liked this article on how to care for clothes, by Effortless Gent. I don’t agree with his love of shoe shiners – I’ll always polish my own shoes – but otherwise I think he’s spot on and if I was a Skint guy I’d be a regular reader. Hell, I might just become one anyway – told you I was in a rebellious mood today.
So, before you go, would you give your dry clean only clothes a spin in the washing machine? Or got any other rule breaking money savers you’d like to share? x
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