Washing Dry Clean Only Clothes – It Could Save You A Fortune

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.red military jacket

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 . . .

she's a rebel picture

Oh yes, washing your dry clean only items is the new cool . . . (if anyone even says ‘cool’ any more . . .)


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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About Skint in the City

Skint in the City provides stylish, practical tips and advice on how to live the high life on a shoestring budget.

15 thoughts on “Washing Dry Clean Only Clothes – It Could Save You A Fortune

  1. Washing dry clothes are easy to wash in washing machine but its necessary that you have to know the process and how to use it.

  2. […] Skint in the City: how to wash your dry clean only clothes – and save money into the bargain […]

  3. […] isn’t the first time I’ve come across such honesty when trying to give someone my business. A while back the woman at […]

  4. […] my best sale finds came from Frasers in mid-Jan, the toy soldier dry-clean only jacket I recently put in the wash.  Emboldened by that success I might just snag another dry-clean item or two this year then stick […]

  5. Netbags are a MUST for washing delicate clothes,underwear, bra, lingerie, coats, etc.
    For silk, net bags maybe a bit risky so you might want to put it inside a cheese cloth bag before putting it inside the machine. I put in my silk pajamas once not thinking straight, when I got it out the machine it was ripped into pieces! =..( So lesson learned, I got myself a cheese cloth bag to put the delicate clothes in.. including lingerie (too lazy to hand wash)lol.

  6. […] Skint in the City: how to wash your dry clean only clothes – and save money into the bargain […]

  7. I bought two “dry clean only” items from Forever 21 (I was perplexed as to why forever 21 sold dry clean only clothes) and put them both in the washing machine. One unfortunately didn’t make it through a cycle unscathed (a velvet playsuit), the other is perfectly fine (a fluffy knit jumper). Had I have known the power of the delicate wash and the net bag perhaps the playsuit would still be here today.

    I’d put dry clean only clothes in the drying anyday, I avoid dry cleaners like the plague!

    • Ha ha, I’m with you Martha. The net bag is one of my best friends! Poor velvet playsuit though – sounds adorable too.

  8. Caution, this may be disturbing to some but I was almost all of my clothes in the washing machine! 😀 Even coats, suits and thin jackets. Even faux fur jackets/wests and wool sweaters. Just put it on cold wash (30 degrees celsius) and it’ll all be fine. All of the delicate garments with beads, studs, sequins I hand wash with a liquid detergent. I dry clean only real fur and leather. And it’s a real money saver! I agree with you on saying that manufacturers maybe just put on those labels without even looking at the material, they really don’t want everyone complaining if something goes wrong, and that’s understandable. However, it may cost us so much! Great post btw! http://www.moiminnie.blogspot.com xx

    • Moiminnie, you are a rebel! AI thought I was taking chances but coats?? You are leading me into temptation – I might just give that a shot!

  9. […] in the week I told you how I’d just taken a walk on the wild side and put my dry clean only jacket in the wash. Crazy biscuits. Well, it put me in mind of another daredevil clothes-washing stunt of mine – […]

  10. We wash a lot of our work clothes. Instead of spending $15-$20 per week at the dry cleaners, we just wash them at home!

    • I’m with you there Michelle! That blouse I spoke about in the post is a work one – why would I go running back and froward to the dry cleaners with an ordinary blouse? Happy to learn that you’re a rule breaker too!

  11. Haha, loved this!…doesn’t mean I’m man enough to try washing my dry clean only stuff though…hmm. I think you’re right, I guess there’s a huge element of manufacturers covering their backs whereas some proportion of clothes are marked dry clean only for good reason. You certainly seem more skilled at spotting what can handle a machine wash and what can’t so I think I’ll leave that to the pro :)

    • Hey Ash, give it a go – I guarantee you’ll get a kick out of it! (Heh heh, can you tell I don’t get out much?) Loving your site’s tagline by the way – makes me laugh every time I think of it!

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