Clothing manufacturers are legally required to give you one cleaning method on the label of a garment. Since they're only required to give you one method, sometimes they will default to dry clean only when an item isn't actually dry clean only.
There are 3 reasons they might do this:
- There are differences in every machine, and some people are not great at following instructions. They don't want to be liable for a customer using a harsher machine or not reading the directions carefully enough
- If something gets ruined by the cleaners, it's the cleaners fault. By labeling a garment dry clean only they have no liability.
- Higher end and better items tend to be dry clean only so higher end brands will usually label all of their items dry clean only, even if they can go in the wash.
SO WHAT FABRICS AND FIBERS CAN BE WASHED?
There are two main concerns with machine washing and drying- heat and shape. Some fibers react poorly to heat, and some fabric construction become misshapen after tumbling.
SYNTHETIC FIBERS don’t shrink when exposed to heat, but they can wrinkle in a dryer and those wrinkles can be permanent. When a wrinkle is heat set in a synthetic fabric it's essentially melted into the fiber (most synthetics are plastic based). Tumble drying on low is a safe option for these types of garments. These fibers also make a lot of static so be sure to use a dryer sheet.
COTTON is different from other natural fibers and can be machine washed on cold. Be mindful of shrinkage with cotton, especially on the first wash if its not labeled as preshrunk, and lay flat to dry.
OTHER NATURAL FIBERS like LINEN, WOOL, and SILK are best dry cleaned. Linen will lose its crispness, wool will shrink, and silk will become dull if not dry cleaned.
If the label inside your clothes doesn't say dry clean only, it can be even more confusing trying to figure out what the little pictures mean! I made you a cheat sheet, print it out and hang it in your laundry room for easy reference:
Here's to making an Impact together!