Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Dry Cleaning: At-Home Options

Learn green at-home methods for cleaning delicates and dry clean only items without toxic chemical solvents.

February 8, 2024
min read
Subscribe to our blog and get a FREE Red Cedar Sachet.
a piece of cedar wood on top of cedar chippings
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Shipping rates apply. £1.95 UK, £4.95 Other
In this article:

Commercial dry cleaning relies on harsh chemical solvents like perchloroethylene (PERC) that pose health and environmental risks from contamination and pollution. Adopting gentler cleansers and natural drying methods at home for delicates and specialty fabrics provides a greener solution reducing unnecessary toxin exposure and emissions.

This guide covers deciphering labels to identify dry clean only items safely washed manually plus best practices finishing garments minus energy-intensive machines.

Evaluating Garment Care Labels

Care symbols dictate appropriate cleaning methods by fabric type preventing damage from heat, water, bleach or other compounds too harsh for the weave and fibers used during manufacturing.

Understanding Care Symbols

A circle pictogram with either an X drawn through it or letters spelled out reveals which commercial processes items withstand safely – or not. For home methods, focus on water temperature limits and machine wash viability.

Identifying Fabrics and Blends

Beyond coded symbols, many labels also now state fabric composition percentages directly such as 60% wool, 40% polyester etc. When uncertain blend ratios make home washing risky, default to gentler hand wash just in case. Wool marks and the letter W indicate surface fibers warrant this non-risky approach.

At-Home Green Cleaning Methods

While dry clean only tags traditionally deterred DIY work, several eco-friendly techniques lift stains effectively minus the pollution supporting commercial route.

Handwashing Techniques

Fill sinks with cool water temperature appropriate for fabric, adding mild soap diluted well. Submerge entire garment, gently squeeze suds through, drain dirty water and rinse clean repeating until no dirt appears. This method works wonders reviving delicates like silk and cashmere animal fibers traditionally deemed dry clean only.

Vinegar as a Natural Cleaner

The acidic vinegar helps dissolve oils and perspiration marks from fabric when mixed as a solution spray targeting stained items. Spritz pre-treatment solution allowing it to penetrate fully before adding garments into hand washing baths. Acetic acid cuts grease, lifts odors and kills bacteria without synthetic chemicals.

Vegetable-Based Detergents

Look for plant derived cleaning ingredients like soapwort, yucca or palm derivatives labeled clearly as the main surfactant component. While not anti-bacterial, vegetable detergents effectively remove body soils from premium fabric blends and lift away without leaving coating residue behind skewing natural fiber wicking ability.

Steam/Air Purifying Systems

Investing in compact steam stations allows deep penetrating wrinkle release and odor neutralization between fuller hand washings. The hot steam sanitizes without chemicals suitable for dried sweat marks and mildew-prone pieces. Some systems filter post-steam moisture to reduce drying times minimizing heat exposure for delicates unable to withstand high temperatures of standard irons.

Special Considerations by Garment Type

Customize revived home cleaning programs catering to specific use cases and material limitations unique to certain fabrics more sensitive than others requiring adjusted handling.

Silks and Delicates

Fragile silks, satins and lace trims require strictly cool water hand washing only laying flat to dry avoiding shape distorting hanging. Use light detergent doses and skip bleach products – instead try lemon juice or hydrogen peroxide removing light stains on delicate fabrics.

Cashmere and Fine Knits

Merino, alpaca and cashmere wool yarns also handwash in mesh bags gently reshaping flat drying avoiding pulls that create holes from hanging weight. Skip hot irons steaming knits lightly once fully dried. Store hand-knit items with cedar chips deterring moths seeking animal fibers to feast.

Ties and Accessories

Rotate tie, scarf and handbag storage areas periodically to evenly distribute weight and light exposure preventing permanent creases embedded into folds from sustained compression pile pressure.

Suits and Outerwear

Check jacket lining tags before attempting water immersion which can destroy interior structure. Instead, hand steam lapel edges letting gravity smooth hems open before drying naturally on rustproof hangers fully stretched retaining shape.

eco dry cleaned clothes at home

Proper Finishing and Storage

Preserving revived dress shirts, wool slacks and cocktail garb requires non-destructive natural drying out of sunlight avoiding color change or heat weakening. Proper storage between wears saves effort fighting wrinkles repeatedly.

Natural Drying Methods

Hang dresses and blouses up immediately after hand washing while still wet reshape pulling hems gently straight clipping shoulder fabrics into slope position then allowing to fully air dry before disturbing protecting delicate seams from weight pressure.

Maintaining Shape

Stuff shoulders of suit jackets and padded formalwear with acid free tissue paper before storage boxes to retain structure without collapsing inward distorting originally sculpted shaping lines built into quality designs.

Repairing Minor Damage

Use tiny whip stitches reinforced with clear nail polish to reattach loose buttons and embellishment threads prone to snagging during cleansing and handling transitions. Catch repairs early before expanding small holes and loose ties into complex professional grade alterations. Place ribbon tape barriers at stress points proactively.

Going Green with At-Home Dry Cleaning Alternatives

Refresh and revive fine fabrics minus the toxic pollution supporting dry cleaning methods leaning on home cleaning instead. Handled gently using natural solutions, the vast majority of specialty clothing cases make the evolutionary transition once deemed impossible for anyone outside of the professional laundry arena.

Join environmentally minded fashionistas going green at home guided by smart principles laid out when wagering beloved garment wellness on DIY methods still navigating a cautious path forward thoughtfully.

Not only do eco-friendly process lift stains successfully minus risk, but they also better preserve the long term integrity of precious textiles sustaining heirloom status for years more by avoiding needlessly destructive chemical interventions.

Give green cleaning a try opening eyes at how simple supporting sustainability becomes with small habit changes we adopt one load at a time.

Back to blog
Share this article

About Wood Blocks

Our mission is to empower you with the knowledge to curate a wardrobe that not only reflects your personal style but also aligns with environmentally friendly practices. From exploring the wonders of natural mothballs and sustainable garment storage to diving deep into DIY solutions and green living, we're here to guide you on a journey towards a more eco-conscious, stylish, and intentional lifestyle.

Other articles you might like

Shop Natural Red Cedar Mothballs

Pick your bundle based on your home size. You can always add extra blocks, rings and sachets.