There’s nothing quite like pulling out a crisp, wrinkle-free garment fresh from a plastic dry-cleaning bag when getting dressed in the morning. The bill that comes with that feeling? Not so fun. According to a survey Procter & Gamble conducted in 2008, women spend an average of $1,500 a year dry cleaning their clothes. Here comes the really scary statistic, though: 65 percent of those clothes are actually machine washable.
This means you could be stockpiling some of that money for a rainy day (or those leopard pumps you’ve been eying).
Ask any financial planning expert, and they’ll cite cutting down your dry cleaning bill as one of the easiest ways to slash your monthly budget without a lot effort (along with other tips like nixing that $5 morning latte, and taking advantage of promotions at the grocery store). Slashing your dry cleaning bill—while still leaving home wrinkle-free—really just requires a bit of planning and research.
Here, seven tips on how to whittle down your monthly dry cleaning bill, once and for all.
A lot of items that you think you need to dry clean, you actually don’t.
There’s a big difference between “dry clean” and “dry clean only,” so you must check your clothing labels closely. There are plenty of things that you likely think you should be dry cleaning—including cashmere sweaters and silk shirts–that you can wash using Woolite, or even baby shampoo, both of which are gentler than regular detergent. Here’s a full guide on how to care for every item in your closet, and items that don’t technically need to be professionally cleaned.
Just dry cleaning to get rid of a pesky stain? Use stain removers instead.
The major trick to getting rid of stains, is to deal with them immediately. Let a stain sit for a week or more, and chances are it’s just not going to come out. We’re big fans of both Shout Stain Remover Wipes and the Tide To Go pen for carrying around, and getting out stains as they happen. Bonus: you’ll save yourself a trip to the dry cleaner. Here’s a handy list of stain-removing tricks.
Similarly, there are ways to get rid of wrinkles without dry cleaning.
Just like there are ways to get out stains without taking your clothes to the dry cleaner, there are ways to get rid of wrinkles without using an iron.
For starters, you can spray your clothes with Downy Wrinkle Releaser, invest in a mini-steamer, or even use hot water or a flat iron in a pinch. Here are 10 tricks to removing creases sans iron.
Save money by waiting longer between trips to the dry cleaner.
Now that you’re up to speed on how to get out both stains and wrinkles yourself, this should be a no brainer. No, you don’t need to dry clean everything you own after wearing it once. Go ahead and wear heavier items like blazers and sweaters several times before taking it to the cleaners. Not only will you save money, you’ll also save your clothes, which can be harmed from being dry cleaned too often.
Preserve your clothes longer between visits by storing them properly.
A couple of tips in this department? First and foremost, get some proper hangers (cue Faye Dunaway as Joan Crawford famously screaming “No wire hangers, EVER!” in “Mommie Dearest”). Secondly, don’t keep your clothes in dry cleaning bags, which can actually discolor your clothes over time.
Lastly, the time you should splurge on cleaning is before you put clothes in storage, because stains are likely to oxidize and become permanent when they’re set aside for long periods, and scents like food, smoke, and perfume can attract moths.
Try an at-home dry cleaning kit.
Want the dry clean look on a shoestring budget? There are plenty of at-home dry cleaning kits on the market, that do almost as good of a job as taking something to the cleaners for a professional job. Personally, we’re fans of the Dryel In-Dryer Cleaning set, but test a few options, and find a favorite!
Last but not least, shop around for a dry cleaning deal.
Don’t assume that all dry cleaners charge the same amount—prices can vary dramatically, so do your research. If you’re spending a lot of time and money at one particular cleaners, don’t be afraid to ask if they offer frequent customer discounts. Also, keep in mind that the busiest time for dry cleaners is between and April and June, so many many offer discounts in January and February, their slow months.