If you want to avoid dry cleaning because of the chemicals used, rest assured that you can wash many clothes by hand that say “dry clean only,” but you need to learn some tricks.
Almost all dry cleaning establishments in the country clean with perchloroethylene (perc), a probable carcinogen, neurotoxic chlorinated solvent that bioaccumulates in fat and is suspected endocrine disrupter, meaning it is a chemical that may confuse the body into thinking it is estrogen!
Until the dry cleaning industry changes, we can take charge of getting our “dry clean only” fabrics cleaned safely by learning the wet clean process.
Through hard-earned experience—I shrunk a lot of rayon outfits three sizes before I finally figured out what I was doing wrong—I’ve finally learned how to wet clean wool, rayon and silk.
The most critical bit of information you need to know is that it is the agitation of wool, silk and rayon that causes the shrinkage of the fabric, not just hot water. Even the agitation of the gentle cycle in a washing machine is too much agitation for these fabrics. Make sure to spot-test the fabric for colorfastness first.
Wet Cleaning Wool and Silk
Note that I haven’t tested this method on expensive wool coats and jackets. I spot clean such clothes with vinegar.
By Annie B. Bond
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