Can You Iron Dry-Clean Only Clothing?

Acetate shirt ironed with pressing cloth in between

The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 10 mins - 1 hr
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $20-100

After wearing your favorite jacket and making it through the day with no spills or drips, you discover the back is very wrinkled. The label says "dry-clean only". Does that mean that you have to take it to the cleaner again just to remove the wrinkles? Can you iron it at home? The answer is yes.

Dry cleaning is a process that works well to remove stains and body soil from certain fabrics and structured clothes that can be damaged by excessive amounts of water. However, the process of dry cleaning leaves clothes wrinkled. You can do the ironing at home to remove wrinkles with the proper equipment and ironing skills.

Before You Begin

There are several things to consider before you dive in.

  • Do not iron dry-clean only clothes if they have stains or are soiled with perspiration or body oils.
  • Always pay attention to the fiber content on the care label of the clothes when selecting the correct ironing temperature.
  • Do you have a steam iron? A steam iron works best on most types of fabric to remove wrinkles by allowing steam to escape from the iron and penetrate the fibers.
  • Consider taking sequined or embellished garments to a professional before attempting to iron them at home unless you are experienced in clothing care.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Steam iron
  • Clothes steamer
  • Ironing board with padded cover
  • Pressing cloth or a piece of white cotton fabric
  • Sturdy hanger
  • Spray bottle

Materials

  • Distilled water

Instructions

Materials and tools to iron dry clean only clothing

The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

How to Iron Dry-Clean Only Clothing

  1. Read the Care Tag

    Before you start to iron, find the care tag that lists the type of fibers used to make the clothes. If the iron is too hot, you may scorch or melt the fabric. If the iron is too cool, your efforts to remove wrinkles may not succeed. For lined garments, there will be two types of fabric—an outer fabric and a lining fabric. Quite often they require different ironing temperatures.

    Care label being read on dry clean only clothing

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  2. Set up Your Ironing Equipment

    Use a sturdy, padded ironing board. If you don't have an ironing board, you can still iron by padding a counter, table, or the floor. Check your steam iron to be sure the baseplate is clean.

    Gather a pressing cloth—a piece of fabric used as a protective shield between the face of the iron and clothing to prevent shiny marks. Keep a spray bottle of distilled water handy for adding moisture to the clothing to relax wrinkles and a sturdy hanger for your freshly pressed garment.

    Iron board pulled out for ironing dry clean clothing

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  3. Turn the Clothes Inside Out

    Even if you are using a pressing cloth, it is always safest to do the initial pressing on the wrong side of the fabric. Turn garments inside out to prevent accidental marks from the iron as you remove the most severe wrinkles. This is particularly important for dark colors, silk, rayon, linen, and acetate. For velvet, corduroy, and textured fabrics, ironing on the wrong side will prevent crushing the fibers. You can turn the clothes right side out for final touch-ups.

    White tank top turned inside out on top of patterned iron board

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  4. Iron the Clothes

    Lay the pressing cloth over the wrinkled areas. Be sure the iron is set to the correct temperature. Run the steam iron over the pressing cloth, moving the cloth as needed to iron the entire garment. For fabrics like wool or heavily wrinkled areas, add a bit more moisture to the clothing by misting with a spray bottle filled with distilled water.

    Iron passing over white dry clean only tank top on ironing board

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

  5. Hang the Garment

    Immediately after ironing, hang the garment from a sturdy hanger so it will dry completely. Do not fold the item or hang it in a closet while it is still damp. If the item is made from a stretchy knit fabric, lay it flat on a bed or ventilated drying rack to finish drying.

    White tank top placed on wooden hanger after ironing

    The Spruce / Sanja Kostic

Use a Clothes Steamer to Remove Wrinkles From Dry-Clean Only Clothing

Unless you are looking for sharp creases on slacks or crisp pleats on a shirt or skirt, a clothes steamer is an excellent tool for removing wrinkles from dry-clean only clothing. The steam will relax the clothing fibers so that the wrinkles will fall out.

Whether you use a small, travel-sized steamer or a larger, floor model, read the directions carefully and hang the garment on a sturdy hanger. Run the steamer from the top of the clothing to the bottom keeping the nozzle away from the surface of the fabric to prevent overheating. Allow the clothing item to dry completely before wearing or storing it.