Can’t Afford To Dry Clean Your Party Dress? Here’s How You Can Do It Yourself At Home

Who has the cash to pay for a massive dry cleaning bill? Here's how to fake it at home


by Zing Tsjeng |
Published on

Bought a fancy party dress to last you through the month of festive drinking, canape-gobbling and (OK, let's admit it) maybe slightly vomit-stained taxi rides home? You're probably not alone. But the worst part of upgrading your party wardrobe is realising that the label on that new dress says "dry clean", and you're now firmly in the 'skint' bit of pre-Christmas. Well, with a little bit of ingenuity and elbow grease, you can save yourself a hefty dry cleaning bill.

Know your labels

Dry clean labels are usually lies, filthy lies – a catchall guideline by retailers to cover their arses in case something shrinks in the wash. Most garments stand up to hand washing or a gentle cool cycle perfectly fine. Check the label: materials like acrylic, linen, cotton, cashmere, polyester, nylon and acrylic can usually be washed fine. (The only exception? When the tag says DRY CLEAN ONLY. That's less of a guideline, more of an order)

**Hand washing is the way to go **

First off, test for colourfastness by dampening a small area of the hem with water and dab some kitchen towel or white fabric on it to see if any colour comes off. Then fill a clean sink with a mild detergent and lukewarm water (or cold water, if you're really worried about shrinking). Swish the garment around and gently squeeze the sudsy water through the garment for a few minutes. Hold it under running water for a few minutes until the water runs clear.

Put it through a machine wash

If you can't be bothered with hand washing, you can put your garment through the laundry machine. Turn it inside out, button up or zip everything and put it in a mesh bag to make sure that nothing snags in the wash. (If you don't have a mesh bag, you can put it in a dirty pillowcase and knot it off.) Wash on the lowest and shortest setting possible and leave to dry naturally.

**Use an home dry cleaner kit **

If you have a tumble dryer, you can buy special dry cleaning kits to use at home. These come in the form of dry cleaning sheets that you toss in your dryer with the garment. Dr Beckmann sell a kit for £3.49. This works best if your clothes just need a quick refresh – it doesn't work so great on stained garments.

DIY your own Febreeze to cut out bad smells

Fabric refresher sprays like Febreeze can irritate sensitive skin, so go for a chemical-free approach. Fill a spray bottle with half a cup of white vinegar, half a cup of water and a quarter cup of fabric softener. Give it a good shake, spray it on the pits of your garment and hang to dry (the vinegar smell airs out, promise).

If you don't have any white vinegar in the house, mix two tablespoons of baking soda (also known as bicarbonate of soda) with 1/8 cup of fabric softener and hot water. It also helps if you hang the garment outside – sunlight is a natural odour killer too.

What if my dress has fancy detailing?

Before you wash anything with beads, sequins, fringing or the like, make sure they are stitched and not glued on. Do a colourfastness test on an inconspicuous part of the garment, like the hem, and then gently hand wash it. If it's incredibly delicate – for example, if the sequins are held on with one stitch – it's best to spot clean any stains (check out stain removals guide here) and then cut out any stinky smells with the DIY Febreeze.

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Follow Zing On Twitter: @MissZing

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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