Authored by Douglas Mefford in Clothing
Published on 05-25-2009
The care of fine, delicate and, above all, expensive clothing has always presented a problem to the average consumer. Silk, cashmere, leather, wool, and fur cannot merely be dumped into a washing machine and the soap thrown in and anything worth wearing again come out. Professional launders have built a business niche around the dry cleaning techniques that preserve the color and fabric integrity of delicate materials. They do, however, charge a hefty price for their services which can ultimately cost more than the clothing items themselves.
There are several simple methods a person can perform at home which will give their fine clothing as satisfactory a dry cleaning as the professional cleaner. Most of the materials used are common household items. Your first step in dry cleaning your own clothes will be to remove any grease spots from the item. This can be done in several ways. The most simple and safest way is to place the spotted part between a double layer of paper towels and use a warm iron to melt the grease for absorption into the paper. A dusting of cornstarch can also be used to help absorb the grease and take the spot out of the cloth.
Another product that has proven itself to be highly effective for spot removal is K-2R. This solvent comes in an aerosol can and, when sprayed on the spot, creates a powdery substance that absorbs the grease. The powder can then be brushed from the material. K-2R should be used with extreme caution though as it is a solvent mix of acetone, methyl acetate, and an n-butane blend of propane. It should only be used in a well-ventilated area and care should be taken to prevent physical exposure and temperatures over 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are home dry cleaning kits that can be purchased that are used with a standard clothes drier. One such product is “Dryel”. This kit is easy to use in that you merely place your clothing item in the dry cleaning bag along with a specially formulated “cleaning sheet” and let it run in your dryer, usually for about a half an hour. Another brand of home dry cleaning product is “Dry Cleaners Secret”. The primary difference is that it does not use a bag to hold the clothing while running them and the treated sheet in your dryer.
There is, of course, the consumer debate as to which works best. On the one hand, it is said that a bag contains the dirt and only redistributes it over the entire clothing surface. For others, it is believed that, by not bagging the clothing item, you run a much greater risk of damaging it during the tumbling operation.
Regardless of the process used, your newly dry cleaned cloths should be immediately hung up or laid out on a flat drying rack. Allow them several hours in a well-ventilated area to dispel any residual chemical odors. Never cram newly dry cleaned items into a closet or wardrobe as this can set in wrinkles as well as concentrate potentially harmful vapors.