1. Always read the label first.
As they say: knowing your subject is the all-important first step to understanding what fabric you are working with and the care instructions that go along with it.
While some care labels have expanded their instructions to include readable instructions, most labels rely on symbols to denote what can or cannot be done with a specific clothing article. For a detailed chart, you can visit this link.
Image: Wikipedia Commons
2. Conduct a quick spot-test.
While this guide works for most clothing articles, there are some unfortunate cases where your garment requires exclusive attention from the dry cleaners.
To figure this out, the easiest method is to wet a cotton bud with a mixture of water and the detergent you wish to use, and rub it over a spot that’s well hidden (we recommend the underarm area or somewhere on them hemline). If the cotton bud gets stained by the fabric, it’s safer to have it dry cleaned.
3. Use steam.
As a first-round cleaning attempt, run a garment steamer over your clothing. The heat will kill bacteria and germs, which then helps alleviate odours.
For delicate garments and intimates, place them in a lundry bag or wrap in a damp wash cloth, and run it in a normal cycle on your washing machine.
In the event that you have neither steamer nor laundry bag, the quickest way is to run a hot bath, and hang your clothing in the bathroom to allow the steam to work its magic. Plus, you get to take a nice, hot soak so that’s a win-win situation.
4. Buy a home dry cleaning kit.
For soiled garments, you can look at purchasing a home dry cleaning kit. Most kits come with a cleaning booster, dry cleaning bags and a dry cleaning sheets.
As with the water-and-detergent method, use a cotton bud to test the cleaning booster on a discreet spot first before going ahead.
Dryel At-Home Dry Cleaning Starter Kit, Clean Breeze Scent, $119, from fishpond.com.sg.
5. Vodka isn’t just for drinking.
The next time you have some old vodka lying around, save it in a spray bottle. The alcohol will kill odour-causing bacteria without agitating the fabric.
6. Hand wash your garments.
This method works well for clothing with lightly-soiled spots.
In a tub of cold water, drop in a small amount of mild detergent, and mix until the water turns soapy. Dipping your clothing into the soap solution, gently agitate the dirt spots with your fingers. Once the stain is removed, simply transfer it to non-soapy cold water and rinse the soap out of the fabric.
7. Dry with a towel.
Instead of hanging your clothing out to dry in the sun, this method works better to reduce the loss of colour and vibrancy.
Place your wet clothing on a bath towel, then roll it up with the clothing inside (think of it as making a ‘sushi roll’ with your towel outside and the clothing insde).
Gently squeeze your towel to remove excess water, then remove the clothing and lay it out flat to dry in the shade. Choosing a spot that is well-ventilated and near sunlight (but not in direct sunlight!) will help the garment dry better and without shrinking.
8. Avoid using a dryer on your delicates.
This is an important rule to note.
Dryers tend to be harsher on delicate materials, which is counter-intuitive because you want to make sure your fabric is treated as gently as possible. Drying these pieces will stretch them out of proportion, and that is something you do not want.
While safe or hardier materials such as denim or cottons, the drying process might harm your fragile materials.