Monday, January 20, 2014

Dry Clean Only? Really? Are you sure?

We've covered the topic of care tags here.  Some of them are clear and easy to follow. Others, not so much.  One area that seems to create confusion is dry cleaning.  Prevailing wisdom is that "dry clean" on a tag means you can wash it or dry clean it, whereas "dry clean only" means you must dry clean.

I have some clothes that I send to the dry cleaner.  This is mostly because I know I can't press them properly or make them look decent after cleaning.  Things like suit jackets.  I regularly wash and iron silk shirts with no ill effect.  I wash cashmere, I wash merino wool, I wash linen. 

Still, I'm a little hesistant when I have a garment whose fabric content isn't quite as familiar as 100% silk or 100% wool.  Who knows how blends or fabrics like modal will respond to be tossed about in the washing machine?  I've normally followed that prevailing wisdom and sent anything with the dry clean only tag to the cleaners.  Being the rebel that I am, I decided to try home laundering just to see the result.  The experiment involved this dress:

I've had this Tibi dress for about a year and a half. I love it.  It's a viscose/poly/spandex blend with a care tag that clearly states DRY CLEAN ONLY.  Yes, it's in capital letters.  Scary.  Let's face it, it's a white dress and even though I take care when I wear it and don't spill my lunch in my lap, I can only wear it a few times before it needs to be cleaned. 
Throwing caution to the wind, I tossed it into my washer on the delicate cycle in cold, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.  The machine stopped. I opened the door and peered into the darkness.  Perhaps my beautiful white dress was ruined. Maybe it was 1/2 the size or maybe it was discolored.  Surely there was some reason for the frightening care tag.  Ah, no. It was fine.  It looked perfectly normal.  No ill effect whatsoever.  I laid it flat to dry and it didn't even need to be pressed. 
Obviously this success has gone straight to my head and I'll soon be stuffing everything I own into the washing machine.  

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