I received a question from a reader the other day, asking me how I care for my garments without going to the dry cleaner. Funny she should ask, because I was just thinking about sharing my thoughts on how to optimize garment life. Being that 90% of my clothing comes from thrift stores, I like to wash it before I wear it. Sometimes however, I will buy a silk blouse (which I only paid $4 for) and then the dry cleaner wants to charge me $12.. my four dollar shirt just became a $16 shirt and then I become a tight wad :D
I always try to spot clean and wash things by hand before I even consider taking it to a professional. I have gotten ink out of leather, oil out of silk and make up off of lace. There are a ton of home remedies for cleaning and I think they are severely under used! I want to share a few tricks I have acquired over the past few years with you.
First, read the TAGS!! In the 70's congress passed a law mandating that manufacturers tell you what is in a garment, where it was made and suggested cleaning tips. If a garment tag states "hand wash," it is probably best to hand wash it....
Also, I know this is common sense, but I never wash anything in hot water (except towels). Use cold water on all your clothes, it gets them just as clean. If you choose to use the washing machine, use the delicate cycle, turn your garments inside out and put them inside a pillow case so nothing snags inside the wash.
As for the stuff that cannot be thrown into the washer and is recommended to be dry cleaned, I always try to figure out a way I can clean it at home first! Google is my best friend and I always use it to see various techniques out there. I have compiled the links I use when washing my specialty fabrics at home :)