Having enough money to buy nice clothing (or just being savvy enough to get it second-hand) is a double-edged sword. Every delicate, perfectly shaped sweater is probably going to come with a “dry clean only” tag, and not only do you have to spend the extra time schlepping clothing two and from the cleaner’s, you have to spend the extra money, too. What’s a yuppie on a budget to do? There are some alternative solutions:
Wash what can be washed
Plenty of clothing that claims it must be dry cleaned can, in fact, be washed—you just have to wash it correctly. Wool and cashmere, for example, can be hand washed in cold water and lain flat to dry. If you’re feeling really daring, you could even throw it into the washing machine on “delicates”; spin at your own risk. Silk should hang dry. We recommend you don’t mess with leather, and do take those to a professional. If you need more details about what cloth needs what care, no surprise, Martha has the complete run-down for you.
Dry clean at home!
You must not be the only person with this problem, because multiple companies now offer at-home dry cleaning kits. With most, you pre-treat stains, let the clothing sit for a while, and then toss them in the dryer. How well they work, though, is up for debate. While they’re certainly cheaper than a professional clean, and cleaner than no clean at all, the kits are probably sub-par when compared to your local dry cleaning shop. Luckily for you, NY Magazine’s done the, shall we say, dirty work, and compared various brands’ kits.
Iron what should be ironed
Oh, so your problem isn’t a “dry clean only tag,” it’s that when you wash a shirt, it comes out all wrinkled. We hate to state the obvious, but: learn to iron! Sure, it’s tedious, but it’s a helluva lot cheaper than taking five shirts a week to be cleaned. You can even iron while watching Mad Men, and feel super authentic while doing it. Or, watch infomercials instead, and snap up the first steam cleaner you see—it will get wrinkles out, too, and pay for itself in a matter of weeks.
If you must dry clean, clean green
Save the truly impossible garments—sweat-soaked party clothes, thousand dollar suits, prom dresses—for a once-a-month trip to the cleaners. Ideally, you should find a store that offers “green” dry cleaning. Dry cleaning does in fact use liquid—liquid chemicals known as “perc.” They’re bad for anyone exposed to them regularly, i.e. workers, but let’s not forget that you’re putting those chemical-steeped clothes directly on your skin; everyone’s better off with non-toxic cleaning. Look around your neighborhood. There’s a good chance someone’s offering “organic” or otherwise evolved dry cleaning.
If you have any other money saving tips to keep your clothes clean then let others know on Facebook!