Save your clothes, house linens and money by reading this post! We’re revealing how often certain items should go to the dry cleaner in this post.
You see it every time you look at the label in your favorite suit, or the tag on your fancy throw pillow.
Those three little words that immediately make you clutch your wallet and cringe: “Dry clean only.”
But we have some great news for you. Not every dry-clean-only item needs to be professionally cleaned after each use. In fact, some can even go months without going to the dry cleaner.
But how do you know what needs to be cleaned after one use, and what can wait?
Let’s break it down, item by item, to see how often they should actually go to the dry cleaner.
Let’s start with common pieces of clothing.
Button-down shirts and blouses
Because shirts and blouses fit close against your skin, they absorb your sweat more than, say, a pair of pants or a jacket. That means they require regular trips to the dry cleaner.
We recommend having them cleaned after one to two wears.
Most dresses fit close to your skin, so they absorb sweat and body odors in much the same way shirts and blouses do.
Our recommendation is to take your day dresses to the dry cleaner every one to two wears.
Your formal ensembles need to look their best each and every time you put them on. Having your gowns and tuxes professionally cleaned regularly helps ensure your outfit looks amazing.
Formal clothes also tend to be made from more fragile material than other articles of clothing, so they require cleaning more often.
Therefore, we recommend having your evening wear dry cleaned after one to two wears.
Sweaters are typically worn with another shirt underneath, so they don’t directly touch your skin. That means you can go a few more wears between cleanings, which will also help the sweater last a little longer overall.
Unless something spills on it, it smells like smoke, or you wear it without an undershirt, we recommend dry cleaning every three wears.
Dress pants and skirts
If you wear your pants and skirts mostly indoors in a clean environment – and you don’t spill anything on them – you can get away with wearing them a few times between cleanings.
Be sure to change out of your skirt or pair of pants as soon as you get home. Hang them up immediately to air them out and to allow the wrinkles to fall.
If you do all that, we recommend dry cleaning them every three wears.
Because you wear a dress shirt or blouse under your suit jacket, it tends not to require a trip to dry cleaner as often as other articles of clothing. But be sure to check the areas of the jacket that get dirty more quickly, like the collar, sleeve hems, and elbows.
We recommend taking your business suits to the dry cleaners every three to five wears.
Note: If your suit’s skirt or pants seem to need cleaning more often than the jacket, you’ll need to get the entire suit dry cleaned at the same time. This helps prevent irregular or uneven fading between pieces. Alternatively, we recommend purchasing two sets of pants for each suit jacket and cleaning all 3 pieces together.
Outerwear is worn over all other articles of clothing, so it’s not going to absorb sweat or body odors as much as, say, shirts and blouses. Also, you tend to only wear your coat for short periods of time, and not all day like you would with other articles of clothing.
Therefore, unless your outerwear gets stained or dirty, or starts to smell musty, we recommend having it professionally cleaned just once a year.
Now let’s review when you should take household linens to the dry cleaner.
How often you dry clean your throw pillows really depends on usage. If the pillows are just for decoration, and you hardly use them, you can get away with cleaning them once or twice a year.
But if you tend to lean on them while watching TV or reading in bed, you’ll want to send them to the dry cleaner when you notice marks or stains that you can’t get out by spot-cleaning.
Generally speaking, if your throw pillows aren’t getting much use, we recommend dry cleaning them once every six months. To prevent dust and dirt from building up between cleanings, vacuum your throw pillows regularly.
Comforters, duvet covers, and bedspreads
While you should be washing your sheets at least once a week, your bedspread is a different story. Because it lives on top of your sheets, and therefore rarely touches your body, you can get away with sending it to the cleaners much less often.
In between cleanings, consider vacuuming your blankets or airing them out on a porch railing or clothesline. This will help remove dust and keep them nice and fresh.
We recommend dry cleaning your comforters, duvet covers, and bedspreads once every six months.
Note: If you have pets who sleep on top of the bed, or kids who like to play or jump on the bed with their dirty feet, you’ll want to consider having the affected linens dry cleaned more often than what we’re recommending.
Curtains just hang over your windows and don’t really get dirty, so you don’t have to clean them, right?
Curtains are exposed to dust, dirt, and odors, which can deteriorate their appearance over time if you don’t properly care for them. So they may not have to be cleaned very often, but they definitely need to be cleaned.
We recommend having your curtains dry cleaned once a year.
Other things to consider before taking things to the dry cleaner
Our recommendations for how often you should take something to the dry cleaner are not set in stone.
Here are some other factors to consider:
- Fabric: Wool is a sturdy fabric, so items made of wool may not need to be cleaned as often as items made of more delicate fabrics like silk or cashmere.
- Spot-treating: You don’t necessarily have to rush your item off to the dry cleaner for one little smudge. Try spot-treating it at home first to see if that removes the stain.
- Weather: If it’s hot and muggy, and you’re sweating more than usual, your clothing may need to be cleaned more often than when you’re in colder climates.
- Environment: Do you ride the subway to work? Do you walk several blocks from the bus stop to your office each day? You’ll probably want to dry clean your clothing more often if you live and work in an environment where you tend to get a little dirtier.
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