What Happens If You Wash Dry Clean Only Clothes?
| |

What Happens If You Wash Dry Clean Only Clothes?

Let’s take a look at what happens if you wash dry clean only clothes and consider alternatives to dry-cleaning these items.

When holding a piece of dry-clean-only clothing, the majority of people wonder: What happens if you machine wash dry-clean-only clothing? The best course of action is to take the item to a professional cleaner because washing dry-clean-only clothing can damage the item.

The types of harm that can result from unintentionally washing your delicate clothing in a washing machine are listed below.

What Happens If You Wash Dry Clean Only Clothes?

Your clothing’s care label will tell you whether or not you can wash items intended for dry cleaning. Many clothing manufacturers label delicate fabrics as “dry clean” to keep you from ruining them in the washing machine.

This does not imply that you must dry clean every delicate article of clothing, though. Clothing tags marked “dry clean” or “dry clean recommended” may wash well at home with the right care. If the label says “dry clean only,” don’t put it into your washing machine. See the Differences Between Dry Cleaning and Laundry.

When these garments are put into the washing machine, a few different things can happen:

  • The item can shrink even as much as 2-3 sizes
  • The fabric or lining can tear
  • If the garment has lace, beading or other applications can loosen
  • The colors can bleed
  • Fabric textures can change and stiffen
What Happens If You Wash Dry Clean Only Clothes?

Can You Wash Dry Clean Only Clothes at Home?

Although it usually depends on the fabric type and the stain itself, some items that are meant to be dry cleaned only can be cleaned at home. Sending the clothing to a reputable dry cleaner will give you the best chance of cleaning it without damaging it.

But if you’re pressed for time, here are some tips that can help you clean your clothes in spite of the dry clean only tag:

  • You will need cold water and mild detergent
  • If you’re washing clothes made from silk or wool, hand wash them only;
  • Use a clean sink or basin to gently wash your clothing items;
  • Some items such as cotton, linens, and durable polyesters can be added to the washing machine, but consider adding just one item to see how it handles the cycle;
  • Use the “delicates” cycle and only a small amount of mild detergent;
  • A knitted garment should be laid flat to dry to prevent stretching. It’s okay to hang woven ones.

You may be able to remove some stains from your clothing without causing any harm by using one of the available home dry cleaning kits. However, some fabrics, like leather, fur, or other delicate fabrics, are typically dry cleaned by professionals only online.

How to Wash Dry Clean Only Clothes?

Some clothing that has been advised to be dry cleaned can be successfully washed using only a few tools and simple procedures.

What Happens If You Wash Dry Clean Only Clothes?

Step 1: Check the Care Label

How—and if—you wash delicate items is dependent on your clothing’s care label and fabric type. Check the label to ensure it reads “dry clean” or “dry clean recommended” and not “dry clean only” before you move to the next step.

Cotton, linens, and durable polyesters are typically safe to machine wash on a gentle cycle, while fragile fabrics like leather, suede, silk, and other delicate materials are best maintained through dry cleaning.

Step 2: Spot Test

By quickly spot-testing your delicate clothing, you can wash with more assurance. A cotton swab should be used to gently scrub the area after applying a small amount of water and a drop of mild detergent to a piece of the clothing you intend to wash.

You can start machine washing if the swab comes off completely clear with no signs of fabric dye. Your item needs to be dry-cleaned if the cotton swab becomes stained with fabric dye.

Step 3: Select Wash Cycle

Be sure to choose a gentle or “delicate” cycle when washing clothes with instructions to dry clean. To lessen the chance of clothing tangling or wrinkles, gentle cycles combine a gentle wash action with a low-speed spin.

Step 4: Select Water Temperature

Warm water should never be used to wash delicate clothing. When washing with cold water, the delicate fabrics that are more prone to shrinking, fading, and pilling are reduced.

What Happens If You Wash Dry Clean Only Clothes?

Step 5: Add Detergent

Laundry detergents are not all created equal. Some detergents are made with delicate ingredients and are specially formulated with delicates in mind to clean delicate fabrics without damaging them. When washing delicates, use a mild detergent or one created especially for the fabric type of your clothing.

Step 6: Prep and Add Clothing

Turn to clothes inside out, secure fasteners like zippers, buttons, or hooks, and wash delicate fabrics by putting them in a mesh bag made for delicates. As a result, clothing won’t tangle or catch during the wash cycle. Close the washer’s lid after adding the mesh bag, then start the cycle.

Washing Dry Clean Only Clothes by Hand

In lieu of dry cleaning, according to clothing industry experts, it is possible to hand wash fabrics intended for dry cleaning only. Because it enables them to take the proper precautions to prevent damage, a lot of people opt for this method when cleaning their delicate clothing.

Changing the water’s temperature, using different cleaning agents, and pressing on the garment can all influence this choice.

For these delicate fabrics, hand washing is a secure alternative to dry cleaning. In making this choice, it was considered whether to modify cleaning procedures in light of the material as well as to reduce cleaning costs.

This means that when washing by hand if you notice any shrinking, bleeding, or other damage, you can stop before the damage gets out of hand. When hand washing a fabric, it is important to pay attention to how the material responds to different temperatures, types of soap, and levels of pressure to determine whether this method is suitable for cleaning.

What Happens If You Wash Dry Clean Only Clothes?

Do At-home Dry Cleaning Kits Work Well?

For lightly soiled items, home dry cleaning kits are typically the best option. You can wash your dry-clean-only clothing with the help of these kits because they frequently include milder variations of the specialized cleaners used by professionals.

They might not be effective on heavily soiled clothes, and they might not help tailor-made clothing have the same pressed appearance you’d anticipate from a dry cleaner. If you’re unsure, it’s best to take your clothing to the dry cleaners so they can take care of it.

Fabrics Susceptible to Damage from Machine Washing

The list of fabrics and the effects of improper washing is provided below.

Linen and Durable Polyester

Some of the most popular fabrics for modern clothing include polyester and linen. These materials, though, are delicate and easily harmed by dryers’ roughhousing and machine washers’ agitation.

This is because water damages linen and polyester by causing the flex fibers to warp. Additionally, these fabrics get scorched marks when they are exposed to the heat from machine dryers.


In the chilly fall and winter months, there is nothing cozier than donning a wool sweater. This fabric is one of the most well-liked choices for cold-weather clothing because of its reputation for warmth and comfort.

If owners do not follow the washing instructions, this material does have a drawback. When not washed properly, this fabric is infamous for shrinking. When a garment is exposed to water for an extended period of time, changes in its molecular structure result.

What Happens If You Wash Dry Clean Only Clothes?


Because it breathes well and helps people stay cool, rayon is a hugely popular semi-synthetic fabric that is frequently used for summer dresses and sportswear. However, improper washing can have negative effects on this material, which is made from refined cellulose fibers from wood pulp.

This is a result of the fiber’s inability to retain dye when exposed to water, and it is particularly harmful when washed alongside other clothes because the colors will bleed in the wash. So, in addition to ruining one item of clothing, you are also ruining an entire laundry load.


Silk has long been coveted by aristocrats and members of the regal class. It was made famous through the silk trade, which began in the second century. Silk is a highly sought-after material that offers the greatest level of comfort and feel, whether it is used for clothing, pillowcases, or sheets.

However, similar to rayon, silk is particularly susceptible to deterioration during washing and drying because the fabric cannot hold dyes, resulting in bleeding when submerged in water.

Conclusion: Washing Dry Clean Only Clothing

What might happen if a piece of clothing is meant to be dry-cleaned only? The garment could shrink – not just a little, but significantly. The size of some garments can decrease by up to three sizes, and drapes can even be cut in half. The fabric of your outfit might sag.

Manufacturers advise against using a home washer and dryer for many more expensive items and instead suggest dry cleaning. This is due to the significant harm that traditional washers, dryers, and velvet, wool, silk, rayon, and acetate fabrics suffer.


Can You Put Dry Clean Only Clothes in the Dryer?

Dry-clean-only garments require gentle handling that the dryer typically cannot provide. High heat can cause the wrinkling of materials like silk or lace, distortion of leather or suede, and shrinkage of natural fibers like wool. To help prevent stretching and hang-dry other delicate fabrics, think about laying knit clothing flat as it dries.

Is Dry Clean Only Really Necessary?

Generally speaking, if a garment’s label includes the dry clean symbol along with other washing options, it is just the manufacturer’s recommendation that the item be dry cleaned. However, if the label says ‘dry clean only’, you must obey!

Why Would Clothes Be Dry Clean Only?

Chemicals present in cleaning detergent can damage the fabric. When washed in cold water, clothing may shrink. There will be a tag that reads “dry clean only” on any clothing made from such materials. The tag’s purpose is to serve as a daily reminder that washing your clothing in a washing machine can cause irreparable damage.

Don't forget to share this post.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.