5 Things You Should Dry Clean and 5 Things You Shouldn’t

From that delicate silk blouse to your favorite pair of jeans—find out which items to take to the cleaners and what to wash at home.

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woman blouse hangs on a hanger
ben bryant/Shutterstock

Silk Clothing

Clothing made from 100% silk will last you a lifetime if cared for properly. While some silk can be hand washed, dry cleaning is the safer option to ensure your garment does not change color or lose its luster. Particular silks that should always be dry cleaned include dark or bright colors, printed silks or lined items.

Verdict: Dry clean only.

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Sequin dress detail , Girl holding the hemline of her glamour sequin dress

Sequined or Embellished Items

That beautiful holiday dress covered in sequins most likely needs to be taken to a professional cleaner. Details like beading, sequins and other embellishments can easily come undone and fall off the garment if thrown in the washer at home. Keep your sparkles intact by paying for dry cleaning instead.

Verdict: Dry clean only.

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Collection of leather jackets on hangers in the shop.


Keep your leather jacket looking sharp by taking it to the cleaners. Professional cleaning will get out the tough stains without cracking or shrinking the leather. For a quick fix, make your own cleaners for around the house, including an olive oil one for leather.

Verdict: Dry clean only.

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Business man cleaning his suit with adhesive lint roller on white background


Suits should always be taken to the dry cleaner. Professional dry cleaners have the right techniques to handle a suit’s special requirements and maintain the shape and fit. Take your suit to the cleaners about once a week to keep it crisp and extend its overall lifetime.

Verdict: Dry clean only.

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Sleeve of blue velvet dress in female hand. Fashionable concept


Velvet is soft, luxurious—and a little high-maintenance. The special fibers in velvet will likely be damaged with at-home washing. Bring velvet items to the dry cleaner to ensure the soft texture and shape of the garment is preserved.

Verdict: Dry clean only.

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Beautiful, luxurious, knitted cardigan in pink, autumn, winter, warm.


Expensive cashmere seems like a fabric that would require dry cleaning, but in fact, the harsh chemicals used by professional cleaners can damage the natural fibers. Instead, hand-wash your cashmere clothing in cold water, and use a mild detergent or cashmere shampoo.

Verdict: Wash at home.

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blue striped button down shirt, macro shot

Cotton Clothing

Luckily most clothing can be washed at home, including all of your cottons. First, spot treat stains (this is our favorite stain remover), then wash in cold or warm water to avoid shrinkage and color fading. However, cotton underwear, socks and bedding should be washed with hot water to help remove bacteria.

Verdict: Wash at home.

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Pile of knitted winter clothes on wooden background, sweaters, knitwear
Julia Sudnitskaya/Shutterstock


Most wool clothing can be hand-washed at home. Use cold water and a mild detergent, and don’t wring or twist while washing to avoid damaging the fit. Reshape and lay the garment to dry on a towel or a sweater drying rack.

Verdict: Wash at home.

9 / 10
woman in fashionable ripped Jeans
sangkhom sangkakam/Shutterstock


Your denim jeans and jacket go in the washer. For best results, turn the denim inside out and wash in cold water. Do not put your denim in the dryer, which can cause damage to the fabric overtime. Lay flat to dry to ensure your favorite jeans last as long as possible. When you’re ready to fold and put away, check out these genius folding tips.

Verdict: Wash at home.

10 / 10
synthetic fabric,fabric different
viktoriia borovska/Shutterstock


Clothing made from synthetic fabrics like acrylic, polyester and nylon can be washed at home. Hand-wash or use your washer’s delicate setting—just be sure to wash with cold water. Too much heat and agitation can damage or even melt synthetic fabrics. These products make doing laundry a little easier.

Verdict: Wash at home.

Erica Young
Erica is a cleaning and home décor expert. She knows exactly how to tidy a filthy kitchen and straighten out a mixed-up pantry! When she's not writing you'll find her organizing a closet, buying more bins she doesn't need or bingeing her latest TV show obsession.