Woman holding folded laundry

Clothes you
can really wash yourself

Sure, the label on that blouse you just bought reads "Dry Clean Only," but do you really have to take a trip to the cleaner's? That all depends on what kind of material it is.


Those linen pants hanging in your closet might get a lot more use if you didn't dread wearing them because you have to take them to the dry cleaner afterward. Fret no more! Linen can actually be washed in the washing machine, but take care with a few tips. Before washing them in the machine, soak them for a short time in lukewarm water to help prevent creasing. Use the low-spin and low-temperature settings on your washing machine and avoid using bleach. Wash linen materials only with other linens and run a half-full load to avoid creases. Never dry linens in a tumble dryer. Simply lay flat to dry and then, once garments are totally dry, iron if needed.

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Use a clean sink or plastic bin to wash your cashmere items and only use cold water — hot water can cause the garment to shrink. Use a small amount of baby shampoo or a mild detergent designed for gentle fabrics. Empty the basin and refill it with clean water of the same temperature. Never wring water out of your cashmere items. Instead, gently squish as much excess water out of the garment as possible and then lay it flat onto a thick, dry towel and roll up the towel to absorb the remaining water. Lay the garment on a dry towel or drying rack until it is completely dry.


Silk, you say? Yes, even some silk items can be washed at home if you use proper care. First, treat a hidden part of the clothing to determine whether the garment is colorfast. If you press a towel against it and the color transfers, the material is not colorfast and should be taken to a dry cleaner to avoid fading.

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However, if the color does not transfer, you can soak the garment in lukewarm water for about five minutes, using a very mild detergent. Rub material together gently to remove any stains. Then rinse with water mixed with 1/4 cup vinegar and finally rinse again with plain cold water. After that, dry the silk garment exactly as you would the cashmere item, as explained above.

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Wool can be washed at home in the exact same way as silk garments. However, make sure to use a detergent that is pH neutral for wool. Once you've followed the steps for drying and the wool garment is completely dry, put it in the dryer on the "No Heat" setting for 10 minutes to soften the fabric. Gently steam it to remove any excess wrinkles.

More on caring for your clothes

Get that dry-cleaned look at home: Steam clean your clothes
Print this: Clothing care guide
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