3 Items You Shouldn't Dry Clean; But Probably Are

Because you're always looking for ways to save money, you're careful to take special precautions when washing your favorite garments. After all, you spend money on quality, soft cashmere sweaters and expensive dress shirts, and you want to maintain their intended shape and feel as you enjoy them for many years to come. The obvious choice for cleaning your expensive, luxury items is dry cleaning. But it's recommended that more than a few items NOT be dry cleaned.

Dry cleaning chemicals like perchloroethylene, or “perc,” could reduce the lifespan or even ruin your items over time. Perc also pollutes water and has been linked to cancer, liver damage, nausea, and other health problems in humans and animals. Think twice before dropping these three particular items at the dry cleaner this week.

1. Down Bedding

While it's warm, soft, and so cuddly you won't want to get out of bed in the morning, your down bedding could also harbor dead skin, dust mites and funky odors. Washing your down comforter once every few months, or at least twice a year, allows you to maintain the look, feel and comfort of your luxurious bedding. Instead of taking your down bedding to the dry cleaner, though, wash bedding at home. Perc and other chemicals used during dry cleaning can strip down feathers of their natural oils, reducing warmth and coziness.

Load it into your washing machine and use a small amount of dish soap (like Dawn). If it's too big and bulky for your machine, take it to a local laundromat. After washing, place in dryer on low/medium setting. Once it's completely dry, place it back on your bed and enjoy a good night's sleep on your freshly-laundered and protected down bedding.

2. Sweaters

From cardigans to pullovers, your sweater collection keeps you warm and toasty year round. The cashmere and wool sweaters in your collection require proper care, though, if you want to enjoy them this season and for many years to come. Instead of taking them to the dry cleaner, hand wash your special sweaters at home in mild soap and warm water.

Your efforts will protect the fragile fabric from chemical damage, keep the threads intact, and ensure your collection remains soft, pliable and in shape. You'll gain peace of mind knowing that every sweater in your collection is clean and protected, and it feels as soft today as it did the day you bought it.

3. Dress Shirts

A necessary accompaniment for the suits you wear to work meetings, parent-teacher conferences, and other important events that help you look professional and accomplished. Don’t you think your dress shirts deserve a little love? If so, stop dry cleaning them. The dry cleaning chemicals and starch could discolor your valuable dress shirts, and the harsh cleaning process and machine press could damage the shirt fibers and ruin this wardrobe essential. Wash your dress shirts at home to protect and preserve them. Simply fill your washing machine with cold water, use the gentle cycle and then hang them on a line to dry. Press them with low heat and no starch to reduce ugly discolorations and indentations. With this gentle washing method, you'll feel confident knowing that your dress shirts are clean and beautiful, and they'll be ready for you to wear every day of the week.

Saving time and money are two important priorities for you, and you can do just that when you wash three important fabrics at home. Don't sacrifice your down comforter, sweaters, or dress shirts to the dry cleaner. Wash these investments at home and preserve their softness, color and shape. In the long run, you will appreciate the clean and fresh difference next to your skin as you prolong the life of your favorite fabrics.