One of the most common questions that gets asked of dry cleaners is “what types of materials should be dry cleaned?” There are two easy ways to answer this question, the first and most obvious answer being that if there is a tag in the garment that says “dry clean only” then you should not attempt to wash it at home. The materials are not compatible with the typical washer and dryer that you have in your home, and putting that type of clothing through the washer will most likely ruin it. If you cannot find a tag that gives you any cleaning instructions, then you can defer to a pretty simple rule. Cotton and knits can be washed at home and everything else needs to be dry cleaned. Chances are that most of your wardrobe that you would consider your “casual” clothing consists of cotton and knits as well as denim. These are typically fine to put through the washer and dryer, although you may find tags with special cleaning instructions. It is also not very well known that jeans should have a little bit of special care when being washed at home. Jeans should not be put through the dryer, and should always be hung to dry. Jeans should be washed inside out in cold water as well, and raw denim jeans (the expensive ones) should not be washed at all. If you get a stain or dirt on them just wipe it off with water or take it to the dry cleaner.
So what types of materials are in need of dry cleaning? Silk, velvet, wool, leather and any kind of delicate fabric like cashmere should all be dry cleaned. Chiffon, velvet and merino wool as well as any kind of formal wear especially wool suits are all going to need to be entrusted to professional cleaners if you want them to stay looking good. Any type of garment that has embellishments of any kind on it should also probably be taken to the dry cleaners, because the agitation that is involved in the at-home cleaning process will probably ruin them. The dry cleaning process is not one that uses the same types of agitation that your home washer and tumble dryer uses, so it is easier on fabrics and will keep them more intact. Hats of almost any kind should all be dry cleaned as well, or not cleaned at all.
So you have decided to take your wardrobe seriously and not treat it like you did when you were in college, essentially throwing everything you own into a washing machine and hoping for the best. The more expensive clothing that you use when you want to look more stylish and professional also needs better care than that if you plan on having it for longer than a few months, so get to know where the nearest dry cleaner is and use them regularly. Your clothing will thank you by looking good for far longer, and it will ultimately save you money!