If it's one thing I learned when getting my degree in Apparel Merchandising and Product Development, I definitely learned when it's necessary and when it isn't necessary to take special care of your clothes and I can definitely speak from experience.
When deciding to take care of your clothes (assuming that the clothes that require special care, you actually care about them) you should always look at the fabrics. and consider the quality. Ironically, the clothes that are of highest quality are the ones that need special care and since you invested in these pieces, you most likely see the value in taking care of them.
So it's important to know that just because something says it needs to be hand washed or dry cleaned, doesn't mean it is so. If you spent $20 on a shirt that is made out of rayon, you don't need to take special care of it. If it is a cheap fabric, the brand is suggesting to take special care of it, simply because it is cheaply made and is made out of cheap fabric so if you don't take special care of it, it won't last long. Even the fabrics that look and feel like silk but are actually polyester, I wouldn't take care of those either.
The high quality pieces require special care because sometimes when you launder an item a certain way, you ruin the texture of the delicate fabric and if it is a delicate fabric, you will ruin it as well. Not to mention that some pieces will bleed onto other clothes (color dye bleeds). However, if something says it needs to be dry cleaned, I will hand wash it. It can be leather or even silk and I will still hand wash it. Truthfully, for the longest time I thought "dry clean" meant that it actually gets cleaned when it is dry lol. I blame Dryel for that.
After watching 20/20, I realized that dry cleaning involves using a liquid solution to wash your clothes in a cycle, just as you would when you put them in the washing machine so other than the special solution, it is no different. In addition, this episode of 20/20, discussed how many dry cleaners use a dirty solvent to clean your clothes. If you've ever worked in an environment where some form of cleaning was important to your clientele, then you can only imagine how unsanitary a dry cleaners can be.
In my opinion, unless you have stains on your delicate, valuable, and/or high quality pieces, hand wash them and let them line dry instead of constantly taking them to the cleaners. For everything else, just use your handy washing machine and dryers. At the end of the day, you may wear these pieces for years but not for the rest of your life so if something gets damaged along the way, it's not the end of the world.
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