How to Dry Clean at Home


Some clothes are easier to care for than others. Most everyday items can be cleaned with a quick wash and dry, however, “dry clean only” and delicate garments require more TLC. While it’s always best to leave the dry cleaning and pressing up to the professionals, you may be tempted to skip the extra trip and dry clean at home.

This, of course, begs the question: Can dry cleaning really be done at home? Even though there are a number of ways to remove stains, wrinkles and odors from “dry clean only” clothes (more on that below), there is no way to actually dry clean at home, according to Carolyn Forte, Director of the Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute. Professionals are able to remove stubborn body oils and stains that at-home dry cleaner kits and steaming are unable to. “Dry cleaning at home may delay bringing something to the dry cleaner and give you a few more wears, but it will not totally eliminate the need for it,” she explains.

Maybe you have a whole season’s worth of clothes to dry clean and don’t want to stomach the high price tag. Or maybe you’re not a fan of how your clothes smell when you bring them home. Forte offers up a simple solution: Keep searching until you find a dry cleaner that meets your needs or find an alternative (but highly effective) solution like wet cleaning or liquid carbon dioxide cleaning.

How to Refresh “Dry Clean Only” Items at Home

If you want to extend a garment’s life between dry cleanings, you have two options: use a dry cleaning kit or take the DIY method.

Dry cleaning kits like Dryel’s At-Home Dry Cleaner Starter Kit come with everything you need for a similar dry cleaning experience at home: a stain remover, bag, cleaning clothes and an odor and wrinkle releaser. Here’s how to get the most effective refresh:

  1. Treat stains with the stain removing pen and spray high-odor areas with the odor releaser spray.
  2. Stick up to five garments in the bag with the cleaning cloth and tumble in the dryer. The heat and tumbling of the dryer activates the cleaning cloth, releasing trapped odors and freshening the fabric.
  3. Remove the clothes promptly and get rid of any remaining wrinkles or odors with the spray.
    1. No kit, no problem: Follow these steps to spruce up your “dry clean only” items:

      1. Remove stains from garments. Just to be safe, test the stain remover on a hidden spot of the fabric and look for water spotting or color loss. Fibers like silk and rayon may be damaged by at-home stain removal products.
      2. Freshen fabrics, remove wrinkles and get rid of unwanted odors with a garment steamer like Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam Steam & Iron or a spray like Downy Wrinkle Releaser. Always test the products on a hidden spot of the fabric first.
      3. Some fabrics, like knits and other lightweight fabrics, can also be de-wrinkled in the dryer. Stick your items in a wash bag and add a wet washcloth, hand towel or ice cubes to dryer to speed up the process.
        1. Remember: This is only a placeholder until your next visit to the dry cleaner. There’s no other way to really make your garments look and smell like new.

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