I would like to say that I use home dry cleaning kits because they are good for the environment (they are). Or, because they are better than a professional dry cleaner (they aren’t). But I actually use them because they are convenient (they are) and because they are cheaper than heading to the dry cleaner. (they are and I’m frugal).
There are several home dry cleaning kit brands available on store shelves and online that you can use at home or at a laundromat with a tumble dryer.
The kits include a reusable cleaning bag, moist cleaning cloths and a stain remover to use for spot cleaning. After you have purchased the starter kit, refills of the cleaning cloths are available as well as additional stain remover pens.
Of course the ultimate in home dry cleaning is Whirlpool's Swash, a free-standing steam-cabinet appliance for your closet to refresh clothes. It uses the same type of cleaning/freshening solution as the tumble dryer kits but generates its own steam. This article will deal with the kits that you can use in your clothes dryer.
Pros and Cons of Home Dry Cleaning Kits
- Less expensive than professional dry cleaning - can cost as little as 50 cents per garment
- Convenient to use – takes only 30 minutes or so
- Safe for most fabrics
- Freshens clothing between wearings – removes smoke and body odors
- Works especially well for knit garments
- Does not work well on heavy grime or grease-based stains
- Clothes can be overly perfumed; try different brands to suit your tastes
- Does not give a freshly pressed look for tailored garments like suit coats and trousers
How to Use Home Dry Cleaning Kits
When you get your starter home dry cleaning kit home it will include:
- Stain removal solution
- Absorbent pads for stain removal
- Heat activated moist dry cleaning towelettes
- Reusable cleaning bag for dryer
- Instruction booklet
The instruction booklet is perhaps the most important item – read it! It’s all very simple and if you follow the manufacturer’s directions you’ll have much better results. Begin by spot treating stains using the included solution and absorbent pads to prevent transfer of the stain to other areas of the garment. Place your garments into the resealable dryer bag with one of the moist towelettes that is treated with the dry cleaning solution. Then set dryer on medium to high heat for 30 minutes. That’s it!
A few tips:
- If you run out of or misplace the absorbent pads used for spot treating, use white paper towels.
- Button and zip garments before cleaning to help them hold their shape.
- Group similar fabric weights and colors together in the dryer bag; don’t mix heavy woolen sweaters with lightweight silk blouses.
- Clean out the lint filter of the dryer before beginning to prevent overheating.
- To keep everything from being overly wrinkled, do not overstuff the cleaning bag – the clothes need room to move.
- Immediately hang or lay the garments flat when you remove them from the cleaning bag. They will be damp and need time to dry.
- Do not use for heavily beaded or sequined garments. The heat can damage the decorations.
- NEVER use on suede or any other leather garments.
If you run out of the included stain remover, you can purchase professional strength dry cleaning fluid. Follow the instructions very carefully as these products can produce hazardous fumes. Use with extreme caution and care.
Home dry cleaning kits cost around $15 for a starter kit that will clean 16-24 items, depending on brand and size and weight of clothing. They are safe and reliable for freshening clothing and removing most water-based and light stains. The convenience is exceptional and they are less harmful than professional dry cleaning for the environment, due to a less caustic cleaning solution, less time on the road to pick up and deliver clothes, no protective plastic bags, and no extra wire hangers.
They don’t work as well as a professional cleaner on heavier grime and stains. And they do not provide a well-pressed, crisp final product.
Final recommendation: use them often for most of your knits and softly-tailored dry cleaning needs. Send your expensive items and crisply-tailored garments to a professional.