I Tried a Dry Cleaning Alternative—and the Results Blew Me Away

With some TLC, a filthy, pricey vest was restored to gleaming white

The Laundress products

 The Spruce / Shannon Truax

With everything going on in today’s world, it may sound strange that I feel a pulling need to talk about laundry—but I do. I really do.

I love fashion, and I specifically love the luxury fashion market. I wasn’t, however, raised around “fancy.” When I was growing up, we mostly got new clothes once a year before a new school season. We’d put things on layaway and look for sales in the summer months leading up to the First Day of School. If we happened to fly out to see our grandma, she’d splurge for something on our wish list, but that was a treat. I’ll never forget the year she bought me L.A. Gear sneakers!

In general, we never spent a lot of money on clothes, and I learned from my dad (who had been a military man) to take care of everything I had. I kept those white and pink L.A. Gear sneakers squeaky clean because I knew that I wouldn’t get another pair if I ruined them. 

These principles have stuck with me over the years, even as I’ve accrued my own disposable income. I’ll happily spend my money, but I don’t want to waste it, and I certainly want to be a responsible consumer. 

Philosophically, I’ve never been OK with buying knock-offs, counterfeit, or stolen IP, and I don’t view this as a means to wear luxury fashion brands. Instead, I’m an avid shopper of the luxury consignment fashion market. Apps like The RealReal and Poshmark—and consignment shops like Buffalo Exchange and Beacon’s Closet—open up a whole new door to authenticated luxury fashion. I lose no pride in buying and wearing someone else’s stuff. Give me a luxury yard sale any day, and I’ll be there!

Fact: Dry Cleaning Costs Diminish Savings

But the largest issue with this line of shopping, and it’s a BIG one, is CLEANING. While a luxury cashmere item may go for $40 instead of $400, it can potentially cost $90 to clean it. It’s insane and quickly dwindles the savings. 

After a friend of mine introduced me to The Laundress a year ago, I’ve saved thousands of dollars in dry cleaning bills, have kept toxic chemicals out of my closet, and have become a more sustainable shopper. Discovering this line of exceptional laundry cleaning products has brought my wardrobe to a whole new level. The Laundress allows me to wash all of my delicate, beaded, silk, cashmere, wool, and down clothing myself. So now, when I buy a used luxury item, it only costs me a few dollars to get it looking and smelling like new.

As Effective as Dry Cleaning? 

I’ve always believed that if you want to share a strong opinion, you should have a little skin in the game. It’s easy to say something with conviction, but that doesn’t make it true. I was browsing in Buffalo Exchange when I found the perfect opportunity to back my claims. If I wanted to tell my friends to “dry clean” their own clothes with The Laundress, I should run a test. 

The Test

I found an absolutely filthy white Canada Goose down vest for sale at $100. While this is a fantastic price for any Canada Goose jacket, it seemed ridiculously expensive, given the condition it was in.

BEFORE dirty vest
The Spruce / Shannon Truax

It was so filthy that it would never meet the standards for The RealReal to list on their site. I mean, look at this pocket close up...

closeup of vest pocket before cleaning
The Spruce / Shannon Truax

The RealReal, at the time however, was listing a clean used version of the same piece for $516.00. It was definitely a high quality item, but could The Laundress make up for the $416.00 difference, and could the vest come THIS clean?

Instagram screen shot from Shannon Truax
The Spruce / Shannon Truax

A hundred bucks is a lot of money for a used, dirty vest. But I had this tugging feeling to buy it and put the Laundress products and my conviction to the ultimate test. I dropped the cash and went to work. Here's how I transformed this vest.

The Products and the Process

  1. Treat the Stains

    I rubbed the Wash & Stain Bar over the stubborn areas, such as the pocket flaps, the underarm area, the button panel, and individual stains. I then made a paste with the Stain Solution and All-Purpose Bleach Alternative, scrubbing the paste over the entire vest with the Stain Brush. I let this sit for 30 minutes. While the solution is made with a Bleach Alternative, it’s still important to not let it sit for longer than 30 minutes.

    vest marinating in The Laundress solution
    The Spruce / Shannon Truax
  2. Soak to Remove Odor

    In a wash basin, I soaked the jacket in cool water and ¼ cup of Scented Vinegar for 30 minutes. The Scented Vinegar will help remove odors like body oil, mildew, smoke, and more.

  3. Wash in the Washing Machine

    I turned the vest inside out and dropped it in the washing machine on the delicate cycle, using the Wool & Cashmere Shampoo.

  4. Fully Tumble Dry

    While this step felt counter intuitive to me, I put my vest in the dryer on LOW heat. About half way through the cycle, I shook my vest to redistribute the feathers. Adding clean tennis balls or dryer balls can help to redistribute the filling as it dries, but I didn’t have any on hand. To prevent mildew, I made sure that my vest was COMPLETELY dry, even running it through another dry cycle to remove the remaining clumps.

  5. Steam to Smooth

    As a finishing touch, I ran my steamer over the vest to safely iron out the creases.

  6. The End Result

    Once I was finished with my process, I was absolutely stunned by the result. My dirty vest was a sparkly white, proving my $100 to be a smart investment. 

    after cleaning with the laundress
    The Spruce / Shannon Truax

Before and After

The before and after, side by side.

Before and After with The Laundress
 The Spruce / Shannon Truax