check the care labels

Ready to Ignore The “Dry Clean Only” Label? Think Again

When we have clothes that need washed, there can either be a temptation or a tendency to just bundle them all together and sling them into the washing machine and/or dryer. But clothing items often come with labels that offer information dictating the way they should be washed. One of these recommendations is the “dry clean only” instruction. What does “dry clean” mean? Is it a suggestion or something you have to do to protect your clothes from getting destroyed?

“Dry Cleaning” Defined

Sticking to the dictionary definition, “dry cleaning” is defined as a process of cleaning clothes or textiles with a substance, such as a chemical solvent, that isn’t water. This is typically due to certain materials degrading when cleaned with water, or fabrics that are vulnerable to the violent movements of a washing machine or dryer.

While this isn’t technically what you’d call “dry”, as those solvents still contain some level of moisture, it’s important that you ensure that you do not place your “dry clean only” clothes in a regular wash cycle with regular clothing.

Label - dry clean only

Care Labels

Unlike in America, where the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has instructed manufacturers to ensure that clothing items sold there have to contain a care label with instructions of how to clean them, the requirements are more relaxed in the UK. While UK manufacturers are required to insert a label that tells us what our clothes are made of, care labels (labels with cleaning instructions) are not mandatory.

While most manufacturers do tend to include care labels, especially when it comes to “dry only” garments, it’s still worth checking with the seller if you don’t see one on any new clothing that you buy. While it is possible to wash some “dry only” clothes in your machine, you have to follow the label if you don’t want to chance ruining your clothes.

Play It By Ear

As we said in the previous paragraph, it’s possible to wash some “dry clean only” clothes in your washing machine. To do this with a degree of success, you’re going to have to know your textiles. Silk, cotton and linen should only ever be placed in your washing machine when you’re running a delicate cycle. For the most part, however, you can generally hand wash these items – and this may be a more preferable (and less rough) testing ground for delicate clothing.

Semi-synthetics and synthetics – such as polyester, spandex, rayon, acrylic, nylon and so on – can be hand-washed, as can wool. The latter should never be placed in a washing machine because it can completely lose its form and shape when in a machine, so it always has to be hand-washed.

If your clothing item is of particular importance to you, or is a treasured item in your family, it may not be worth the risk of hand or machine washing – even if clothing is made of the above materials.

Warning: If you choose to hand or machine wash your “dry clean only” labelled clothing items in water, you do so at your own risk.

Dry Cleaning At Home

While many may believe that they are better off taking “dry clean only” clothing to a dry cleaners, for fear of damaging this clothing in their clothing dryer, it may actually be worth using your own dryer. Dry cleaners tend to use hot tumble drying machines that can be just as hot, or even exceed, the temperatures of your household dryer.

With that said, the professionals know best. They are able to go beyond just looking at textiles, and can judge the construction and colours of your clothing to ensure they don’t get ruined during the cleaning process. Besides, using your dryer more often will just shorten its life-cycle and make it more likely to breakdown, necessitating a specialist to fix it – such as one of the engineers from Repair Aid.

With that said, you could always try shop-bought dry-cleaning solutions such as dry-clean kits, cleaning cloths and stain removal sprays if you want to wash your clothes at home.

Don’t Ignore Labels

To conclude, ignoring the information and instructions on a label can be a costly mistake. You should always read material and care labels as they can provide vital information that keeps your clothes in their best condition.

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