How to Use Home Dry Cleaning Kits Correctly

Men's classic shirts and suit on the bed
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There are several home dry cleaning kit brands available on store shelves and online that you can use at home or at a laundromat. All you need is a tumble dryer. The starter 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.

The ultimate tool for 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 heat to create the steam.

  • Less expensive than professional dry cleaning; cleaning can cost as little as 50 cents per garment

  • Convenient to use, taking only 30 minutes or so for each cycle

  • Freshens clothing between wearings and helps to remove smoke and body odors

  • Safe for most fabrics

  • Works especially well for knit garments like sweaters and afghans

  • Does not work well to remove heavy grime or grease-based stains

  • Potential for overly perfumed clothes

  • Does not give a freshly pressed look for tailored garments such as suit coats and trousers

How to Use Home Dry Cleaning Kits

When you get your starter home dry cleaning kit home usually includes*:

  • Stain removal solution.
  • Absorbent pads for stain removal.
  • Heat-activated moist dry cleaning towelettes.
  • Reusable cleaning bag for the 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 stain remover and absorbent pads to prevent the transfer of the stain to other areas of the garment. Some stains, such as curry, won't come out with the stain remover. Place the garments into the resealable dryer bag with one of the moist towelettes pretreated with the dry cleaning solution. Then set the dryer on medium to high heat for 30 minutes.

*Some kits, like Woolite Dry Care do not include a reusable cleaning bag. Follow the package instructions.


  • 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 the cleaning cycle 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 on 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 carefully as these products can produce hazardous fumes. Use with extreme caution and care.

Final Analysis

Home dry cleaning kits cost less than $15 for a starter kit that will clean 16 to 24 items, depending on the brand purchased and the size and weight of the clothing needing cleaning. The kits are safe and reliable for freshening clothing and removing most water-based and light stains. The convenience is exceptional and they are less harmful to the environment than professional dry cleaning 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.

Home kits 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.