Urban Valet Blog

Urban Valet – DIY Tips

Posted: February 9, 2023

Photo of Urban Valet dry cleaning rack.

Blog Post: DIY Tips

At Urban Valet Cleaners, we understand that sometimes customers may need their items faster than our standard turnaround time. While we take great pride in our ability to process your garments professionally, we’d like to share some tips on caring for your clothes at home.

The dry-cleaning process uses a solvent to clean clothes rather than water and detergent. For dry cleaning only garments – which generally includes silk, velvet, leather, and wool – you’re probably best to send them to us. For hand-wash garments, you do have some in-home options that you may want to try if you’re in a pinch. 

Before you begin hand washing, locate a basin, sink, or tub and fill it with cool water. Then decide which type of detergent you should use; items made of cotton, linen, and durable synthetics can be washed in a regular detergent, while wool and cashmere require fabric-specific detergents that are made for those fibers.

The first step in hand washing delicate fabrics is to pre-treat stains. Below are a few tips from a Washington Post article titled, “Do you really need to dry-clean that?”:

  • Immediately remove as much of the offending stain as possible. Blot — don’t rub — a liquid stain with a white cloth, tissue, or paper towel, starting at its edge.
  • Test stain-removal products on a small, out-of-the-way spot to make sure they won’t destroy the garment.
  • Let a washable, stained item soak in cool water for a half-hour before washing it. (Many non-greasy stains — soft drinks, wine, candy other than chocolate, ketchup, coffee, and ink — can be removed with water.) For non-washable pieces, sponge the stain with cool water; if that fails, work a stain remover into the spot and rinse it with cool water.
  • Treat blood as an ordinary stain. If that fails, try using a diluted ammonia solution followed by detergent and water, then rinse.

After you pre-treat the stains, organize your clothes based on fabrics. Place silks, delicates, and synthetics in one pile, then wools and cashmeres in another. Depending on what you plan to wash, reference the bullet points below:

Silk and Delicates:

  • Pre-treat stains then proceed to wash. If using a washing machine, consider turning the items inside out and putting them in a mesh bag to prevent snagging. Use the delicate cycle on the machine and make sure the water is cool and the spin is on low before adding the detergent specifically used for delicate items. If hand washing, fill your sink or basin with cool water and mix in about two cups of delicate detergent. Then, add your items and submerge them into the water. Distribute the soap evenly around the clothing and let those items sit for about 30 minutes before draining the water. Finally, run cool water through the items until the rinse water is no longer soapy. Be careful not to wring the fabrics! Press the water out with your hands or against a hard surface.

Wool and Cashmere:

  • For wool and cashmere, you can follow the hand-washing steps listed above. However, use a detergent that is pH neutral and made specifically to protect the softness of your woolen fabrics.

Dress Shirts:

  • Start by pre-treating stains around the collar and cuffs. Next, turn the shirts inside out and place them into a mesh washing bag to protect the buttons from snagging in the washing machine. Use the normal cycle on your machine and set the temperature to warm. No need for any different detergents. To achieve a crisp finish, iron the shirt while it is still damp and spritz it with starch spray.

For more in-depth instructions on how to hand wash each fabric category, reference this Town & Country article titled, “How to Take Care of Your Dry Clean Only Clothes at Home.” If you have any further questions or don’t feel like going through all the trouble of washing your clothes at home, call 716-855-4351 or head to our website to schedule your FREE pick-up delivery service today!

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