Decrease Your Spending on Dry Cleaning

by Guest Contributor · 11 comments

Dry cleaning your clothes is an expensive proposition. For many business people, the need to have suits properly cleaned may seem non-negotiable as it relates directly to their professional appearance. However, with a little effort, you could be saving money and looking good. Read on…

Avoid buying clothes that need dry cleaning

While there are some items that are going to need dry cleaning no matter what, such as suits or wool coats, purchasing clothes you can wash at home is less expensive. Cotton dress shirts are easy to wash at home, and if you take them out of the dryer while still a bit damp and hang them, ironing is minimal.

There are also shirts that are of the non-wrinkle type. Buying those instead could literally save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Consider which can be washed at home

Many items that say dry clean can actually be cleaned normally. Since manufacturers are only required to put one method of cleaning on a garment, they do just that. Rayon, for example, can be washed at home as long as you take care not to shrink it with warmer water.

Purchase a home dry cleaning kit. While these kits are expensive when compared to normal detergent, they provide a good alternative to traditional dry cleaning when all your garment need is some freshening up. Used in your dryer, these kits provide you with a pretreatment, a “dry cleaning” cloth and a bag. You pre-treat your stains, put the clothes in the bag with the cloth and run the dryer for a while.

The cloth will infuse your dry clean only clothes with fragrance, the steam generated reduces wrinkles and the pretreatment takes care of most stains. The fragrances can set off allergies in sensitive individuals, so try the system out on something that isn’t essential first.

Care for dry cleaned clothes properly

Unless the item is worn against the skin, cleaning it annually is generally enough. Take off your dry clean only clothes promptly and hang them up. Use a clothes brush to remove any surface dirt and use pads or bolsters to ensure that they lay correctly when hung. Let the item air out for a day or two before you return it to your closet. With proper maintenance dry clean only clothes can last a long time.

Take your clothes to the cleaners

Eventually, no matter how well you treat your clothes you will need to have the professionally cleaned. Long before you step into a store you should have done some homework. Get recommendations from your colleagues as to which dry cleaners do the best work for the lowest cost. Find out if a cleaner sends out coupons, and if they will accept competitors’ coupons by simply asking them.

Wait until you have several items to take at once. Many cleaners offer a discount if you clean more than 5 items at a time, or if you are a regular visitor.

Dry cleaning may be a necessity from time to time, but reducing the frequency and looking for cheaper alternatives can help reduce the expense to a manageable level.

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  • Photo Guy says:

    Considering that perc (used in dry cleaning) is to be phased out by 2015, many of the new “green” dry cleaners are using “regular” washers and dryers for many dry clean only items.

    I wash/dry everything at home except suits and ties.

    The dry cleaning business is supposed to be recession proof, but not this time….

  • Evan says:

    I started buying more and more of the brooks brothers non-iron…washable shirts. They look great and while the up front cost is a bit more you can get them on sale and then never have to have them dry cleaned.

  • I cannot speak for all markets, but I always watch for coupons for various cleaners around town. Usually they are in the phone book or even on the back of cash register receipts from the grocery store.

    I have also tried the home kits and they seem to do okay. It certainly worth a try.

  • Thanks God I have the possibility to wear casul clothes at my workplace. At first our managers tried to make everybody wear formal style, but it won’t work because lots of us just refused to do that. So, now we are afficially allowed to wear casual.

  • I think.that when it comes to dry cleaning it’s really a case by case situation in terms of spending money on it. For me, with my schedule, I don’t have much time to clean business shirts at home. The cleaners will do it and do it well, at little time outlay to me. When using conveniently available coupons, its a very good use of money and time for many of us. The key is to know where to go for best value and service.

  • KM says:

    I’ve never used dry cleaning. I think I saw a tag on some of my clothes that said to only dry clean, but I never paid attention and just washed it anyway. I guess I have been lucky to work at places that dress casually, even if I am usually the best dressed one (mostly because I refuse to wear jeans in the summer…I don’t even know how others can do it…it’s way too hot).

    • MoneyNing says:

      You should be careful if any garment specifically says “dry clean only”. I once washed a pair of pants that was supposed to be dry cleaned and it shrunk to a point where it was unwearable.

      Lesson learned for me.

      • KM says:

        I never had any problems. And I also read somewhere else that many tags say that they require dry cleaning, but most can just be cleaned in a regular washer. Of course, you have to be careful, but you can also save a lot of money if what they write is not necessarily true.

  • marci357 says:

    The cheapest way is just to not buy it in the first place.

    If you can’t adequately clean it at home, why would you even want to bother with it??? It’s not just the money for the dry cleaning, it’s the time factor of taking it to the cleaners, and picking it back up again – who has time to waste?

  • pipe bending says:

    After reading this, we are presented with a choice. Expensive dry cleaning at a dry-cleaners on the one hand, or complex and time-consuming sorting and care at home. If time is money, neither is cheap – and for many people the dry cleaners might even be more cost effective.

    But I have a better solution…

    Casual Fridays. …all week long.

    • MoneyNing says:

      Great idea. 🙂 I honestly think formal clothing in the workplace should be a thing of the past as long as you can dress neatly.

      Of course, another way to save a ton on dry cleaning is to just work at home.

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