Laundry Room Dilemmas: Wash or Dry Clean?

Wash or Dry Clean

If you’re at a crossroads between machine washing your new sweater or sending it off to the dry cleaner, chances are, you’ll find the answer written on its tag. From fibre content to laundry instructions, clothing tags are typically rife with information—but do you need to dry clean a run-of-the-mill sweater if its label says you should? Let’s find out. 

Guidelines for Laundering Clothes

For laundry novices, a tag that reads “dry clean only” is reasonably intuitive. Should you come across a pair of jeans or a leather jacket without a label, ask yourself the following questions. If each answer points to yes, send your garment off for dry cleaning. 

  1. Are there unfamiliar spots and stains on your garment that are difficult to treat?
  2. Does the garment contain acetate, triacetate, or rayon? These fabrics take well to cold water but often turn out shrunken or misshapen. 
  3. Does the garment appear to have a unique finish? The stabilizing finish on stiffer fabrics allows them to hold their shape when in contact with water or excessive agitation. 
  4. Is the garment difficult to iron? A skirt or shirt with pleats and tucks may lose their crispness after ironing. 
  5. If the garment is a coat or suit jacket, is it structured or tailored? Its outside fabric may be washable, but the interfacings that shape shoulders and lapels may not take well to water. 
  6. If washing a lined garment, are both inner and outer fabrics washable? Various types of material will adhere to different shrinkage rates, which can leave linings visible after washing. 
  7. Does the garment have a trim of leather or suede? Water can strip the natural oils off these materials, ruining their finish. 
  8. Does the fabric leak dye when in contact with water? Test whether a specific material is colourfast by running a wet cotton swab along the inner seam or hem. If any colour comes off the surface and transfers onto the swab, the garment will need special treatment. 
  9. Does the garment contain an unfamiliar fibre or one you haven’t successfully home laundered?
  10. Is the garment expensive? Does it hold special meaning to you? Laundry mishaps are almost always irreversible. If you don’t want to risk permanently ruining it, send it off for dry cleaning. 
  11. Is the garment going out of style? If it’s losing its original appearance and out of production, you may not want to risk further damage. 

Tips for Washing Sensitive Garments

If you’re confident in your ability to maintain a garment yourself, consider the following home washing tips. 

  • Use cold water and mild detergent for every first wash. 
  • Hand wash garments with sensitive fibres or set your machine to a gentle cycle. 
  • If you’re unsure about a garment’s colour fastness, wash it separately from other items of clothing. 
  • Skip the clothes dryer for air-drying. Dry knit garments flat to prevent stretching and woven garments hanging to drip-dry. 


Whether worried about a foreign stain on your favourite button-down or need your attire in tip-top shape for a big event, it’s best not to take any chances on your washing habits. Refer to the guidelines above if you’re at a toss-up for whether to hand-wash, machine-wash, or dry clean clothing. 

At Good Fellow Cleaners, our years of experience have allowed us to provide customers with high-quality same-day dry cleaning in Ottawa. Your valued garments are just as special to us—and we’ll treat them as such! Contact us today.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *