How To Save Money On Dry Cleaning

So this morning, I picked up my laundry from the dry cleaners and the bill: $299.58. I’m not kidding. Granted, 1) my lazy-ass boyfriend was in charge and took every article of clothing he owns, and 2) I just moved to the tony Upper East Side of NYC, where dry cleaning a dress costs $18. You can buy a cute dress for $18. I was ready to buy a washboard and head to the East River with my laundry basket, when I discovered there are actually many clever ways to save money on dry cleaning…

Learn The Difference Between “Dry Clean” And “Dry Clean Only”
Turns out that just because the label of your favorite dress says “Dry Clean” doesn’t mean you have to send it off, it’s actually a mere suggestion and the item can be machine washed. It’s only when an item says explicitly “Dry Clean ONLY” that these garments need professional help. As a rule, “Dry Clean Only” items are usually materials that don’t work well in water like rayon, silk, and linen, check your labels before you toss anything in your “off-to-the-cleaners” bag.

Hang Up Your Clothes
Did you know that half of the reason people (like my aforementioned spendthrift boyfriend) take their clothes to the cleaners is get pressed? Annoying as it is, if you made it a habit to actually hang up your strewn-about clothing you’d save some dough. And no more wire hangers! Pants hung over wire hangers get that annoying hard-to-get-out crease, while dresses and blouses often get stretched-out indent marks in the shoulders. Instead, use wooden or padded hangers, which are better for keeping the natural shape of your garment. Lastly, if you want a “professionally- ironed” look, invest in a steamer. A hand-held one is only around $60.

Treat And Avoid Stains
The number-one rule of stains is to treat them stat! If a spot sits untouched longer than a week, there’s a good chance it has set and will not come out at all. To know how to treat a stain, you first have to determine if its oil- or water-based. If it’s an oil-based spill such as olive oil or butter, send the garment to the dry cleaners quickly because they specialize in treating those stains. But if you have a water-based stain, such as blood, coffee, or wine, you can take these out yourself with other-the-counter products. My friend who owns a vintage store swears by OxiClean. And remember to take time to let your deodorant, perfume, and hair products dry before you get dressed. It’s the best way to avoid stains and any annoying hassles before you run out the door.

Do Your Own Dirty Work
Wash your sweaters and jeans by hand. Lest you feel like a cheapo, take solace knowing many clothing experts suggest caring for your cashmere and wool sweaters at home, because the chemical solvents used in the dry cleaning process can be too hard on these fabrics. Besides tried-and-true Woolite, The Laundress makes a special Wool & Cashmere Shampoo. You can also care for your expensive denim at home with The Laundress Denim Wash. They also have a brilliant Darks Detergent with a color guard to keep you favorite black pants from fading.

Okay, okay. I know you have to other things you’d like to be doing, but doing just a little laundry at home will allow you the budget to buy that cute spring dress you’ve been eyeing.