These days almost every single clothing item I purchase reads "Dry Clean" on the care label which makes absolutely no sense to me. If I'm buying a blouse that's 100% polyester then why should I be taking it to the dry cleaner? My mom always taught me to look at care labels when purchasing clothing. In most cases if in doubt you can hand wash or as I like to do put it in the washer then hang to dry. Trust me not only will it will save you tons on your dry cleaning bill but may be healthier!
The main solvent used by dry cleaners, PERC, a perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene has been suggested by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to "likely be a human carcinogen." This means that while there's no definitive proof that the chemical causes cancer in humans, there's strong evidence it does -- and there's proof that the chemical causes various cancers in animals.
Here are steps to determine if dry cleaning is necessary (Real Simple.com):1. Interpret the label. Most manufacturers are required to list just one way to clean a garment. If the tag says DRY-CLEAN ONLY, obey it. If it says DRY-CLEAN, that means that is the recommended method, not the only method.
2. Consider the fabric. Unless the label suggests otherwise, bring silk, acetate, velvet, wool, and taffeta items to the dry cleaner. Cotton, linen, cashmere, polyester, acrylic, and nylon can usually be washed at home. Just check for colorfastness first: Moisten a cotton swab with mild detergent and dab it on a hidden seam to see if any dye comes off.
3. Test the detailing. Often care instructions are for the fabric only―not the accents, which may be tacked on at another factory. That’s why you see EXCLUSIVE OF DECORATIVE TRIM on some tags. Before you wash anything with beading, sequins, and the like, make sure they are sewn on (you’ll see stitches, not glue) and colorfast (quickly dab a wet cotton swab over each type of accent to see if any dye comes off).
Determined to Wash It at Home? Here’s How:
1. Machine-wash the garment if you’re certain that’s OK (always check first before washing). To minimize agitation, turn the item inside out, place it in a mesh bag, and run a short, delicate cycle.
2. In every other case, hand wash. Use cold water to prevent shrinking and bleeding, and a mild detergent (try Ivory Snow 2X Concentrated liquid detergent; $4.50 for 25 ounces).
3. Always―always―skip the dryer. Too much heat harms the accents and the fibers. Instead, gently push out excess water (don’t twist) and lay the garment flat to dry on a white towel to prevent discoloring. Or let a garment air-dry on top of a working dryer. The moderate heat given off by the machine will speed up the process.