I hate to iron! And I’m not a fan of expensive dry cleaning bills. But isn’t it always the case that you buy something you love then find out it’s “dry clean only”? And isn’t it the case that delicate almost always means wrinkles? Don’t we have enough of those with regular fabrics?
About the only things I send out to the dry cleaners are men’s suits and wool coats. (If I had something with beading, intricate formal gowns or leather accents, I’d send those out, too.) And about the only thing I iron is cotton men’s dress shirts and items I want to have a smooth finish.
How do I do it? Here are my tips for an iron free life.
Welcome to the Delicate Cycle
I wash almost every dry clean only item in my machine on the delicate cycle. If you’re machine doesn’t have one, just choose cold water and low spin.
For soap, you can spring for Woolite or use an all-natural/eco-friendly detergent which doesn’t contain the harsher chemicals found in regular laundry detergent. For stains, add half a cup of 3% hydrogen peroxide. Pre-treating methods without bleach that the label says is suitable for the fabric type also work.
In the Bag
Mesh bags for delicate clothing like lingerie, silk anything and sweaters of any material are a must. They’re pretty cheap, too, and once you buy them, you can use them for a very long time. And, if you don’t have a delicate cycle or spin selection option – or, if your machine has a center stalk – these will keep clothing from getting stretched out.
The next set of tips are a must for delicates but also useful for regular fabrics. But for regular fabrics in general, getting them out of the dryer and hung or folded is the best way to avoid wrinkles.
Block and Stretch
For sweaters and tops, hold it at the top seams and give it a snap to straighten it out (you can skip this for lingerie). Lay it on a flat surface to block it into shape. If the seams are puckering, gently pull at the top and bottom of the seam to put back to stretch them out.
For pants, hold at the waist and pull on each leg to get a little extra length back that washing may have removed. This works really well with ponte and other knit type pants.
A Little Heat
Some items, like pants or sturdy sweaters, can be tossed in the dryer on low heat for 10 minutes. The heat will remove most of any wrinkling. Block and stretch if needed when you take them out.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have a lot of room for drying racks. So I hang everything to dry using flock hangers which keeps the sweaters from sliding off. Wrap the arms around the shoulders to keep them from stretching out. If the sweater is really long, use a second hanger to hang the lower portion of the garment.
For regular fabric items that have wrinkles, spray generously with water and let them air dry. Make sure you wet the seams and pull – harder than you would with delicates.
As things dry, if I see any wrinkles, I continue to pull at the seams and lightly spray with water. Sometimes, I’ll send the piece back to the dryer for more wrinkle removal – or to bring back the softness if drying has made them stiff – then re-hang. Also, shift clothing on the hangers to keep marks from developing and turn items around so they dry evenly.
Nine times out of 10, all this saves me a date with an iron. But here’s a bonus tip that actually involves an iron. Ironing is useful to stretch out knit clothing that has shrunk a bit. You can gain up to a half inch by dragging and pulling the iron (at the proper temperature) to stretch the fabric.