The founder of Wardrobe Mistress gives her tips on how to achieve results without dry cleaning.
Give it some airtime
People think they should take expensive garments to the dry-cleaners after every wear. Provided a garment is not stained, airing it for 48 hours on a washing line, or the back of a door near an open window, can refresh it and remove stale smells of perfume, food or smoke. Then decide if it needs specialist attention, further cleaning, or cleaning that you can do yourself.
Spot embellished items
Spotting is used to remove small areas of surface dirt, such as make-up marks. It is particularly good for cleaning embellished items - which can be ruined at the dry-cleaners or in the washing machine - around the neckline or armpits. After airing your garment, dampen a microfibre cloth in a solution of detergent made for delicates (such as Ecover Delicate Laundry Liquid) heavily diluted with warm water. Wring out the cloth until it is very slightly damp, to avoid leaving a water stain. Dab - never wipe - and the mark should lift.
Don't believe the label
Silk, wool and taffeta should be dry-cleaned (choose a company that does not use the toxic chemical perchloroethylene, if possible), as should viscose-rayon, a fabric that is often used by designers. But not all designer garments need dry-cleaning, despite what it says on the label. For example, Theory, Alexander Wang and Rag & Bone pieces are mostly made from cotton, polyester, or nylon, all of which are washable at home, as is acrylic. Turn clothes that are made of these materials inside-out and put them on a cold-wash or hand-wash setting, on a low spin cycle, with a delicate detergent. To target stains or odour, rub some of your normal detergent on the affected area first.
Cashmere garments become thinner every time you dry-clean them because of the chemicals used, so take your cashmere to companies that use fewer chemicals, such as GreenEarth, see greenearthcleaning.com to find a branch. Once they have dried and hardened, food spills on cashmere can be brushed away lightly, using a clothes brush. If a cashmere garment must be washed, turn the item inside-out, and put it in the washing machine with a delicate detergent for 20 minutes, on a cold wash, to avoid shrinkage or damage. Hang it flat over a clothes horse or on a white towel to dry, as hanging it on a line or hanger may cause it to stretch. The only ways to get rid of clothes moths are by dry-cleaning or putting garments in the freezer.
Steam your silks
Steaming can remove mild dirt. It is good for delicate fabrics that you would prefer not to wash in a machine, such as silk, but it also works on cashmere and acrylic. It will loosen dirt, which can be then removed using a clothes brush. I use a portable steamer by Fridja.
Try a quick fix
Once, I spilt olive oil on a pale-pink suede dress, and a heavy application of salt lifted the stain. A cloth drenched in soda water can blot away a red-wine or grease stain, if it is used immediately.
Sunday Indo Life Magazine