Stupid sexy flannel
April 7, 2011 7:15 AM   Subscribe

Can I wash my dry-clean only flannel shirt? I mean.... it's flannel. Come on.

I have this lovely little flannel shirt from Anthropologie and it says Dry Clean Only on the label. I had it dry cleaned but... it still smells not-clean. I really, really just want to wash it.

It's 98% cotton and 2% spandex. That should be ok, right? It's a small shirt to begin with (very fitted) so if it shrinks at all, it will be unwearable. And it was expensive so I don't wanna try it if might get ruined.

But honestly, dry cleaning accomplished nothing. Can't I just wash it in cold water and let it air dry?
posted by silverstatue to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (17 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
If dry cleaning didn't get the smell out, I don't know that cold water + detergent will either. What about Febreeze or very diluted vodka in a spray bottle?
posted by soelo at 7:24 AM on April 7, 2011

My rule of thumb is: if it's not structured (suits, blazers, coats), it can go in a short, delicate cycle on cold. With Woollite.

If something's really fitted and/or expensive, I usually dry-clean it the first year, then start washing it. Since you don't like the smell, do you have access to the outdoors? Let your shirt hang (securely!) outside overnight to air out. Alternatively, do you have access to a dryer with an "air only" cycle? If yes, then pop it in with a slightly damp washcloth or a dryer sheet with the scent of your choice.
posted by likeso at 7:25 AM on April 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Don't put it in the dryer is the rule. Let it air dry.
posted by parmanparman at 7:25 AM on April 7, 2011

Clarification: I meant use the dryer only on air and AFTER having garment drycleaned, to get the chemical smells out. :)
posted by likeso at 7:27 AM on April 7, 2011

Can't I just wash it in cold water and let it air dry?

I would. If you aren't wearing it because dry cleaning isn't getting it clean, what's the risk?
posted by something something at 7:28 AM on April 7, 2011

Best answer: When dry clean only work clothes get a little stinky, I soak them in the washer with half a cup of baking soda for about 30-45 minutes, then let the delicate cycle run to completion, then hang dry. Then dry clean only until they need another bath. Works like a charm.

I would not do this with wool, angora, cashmere, but cotton should be good.
posted by slmorri at 7:34 AM on April 7, 2011

Yeah, you can wash it. Anthropologie's clothes are notoriously delicate, so I'd tread carefully.

Instead of machine washing in cold water, hand-wash in warm water. The agitation of the washing machine will probably be hard on the shirt and do nothing for the smell. Using vinegar instead of detergent will help - vinegar kills stank, and the vinegar smell will disappear when the garment dries. Then air dry very carefully - you want to make sure it dries thoroughly and doesn't stretch out. I'd recommend unbuttoning the shirt and spreading it over a drying rack if you have one, a wooden chair if you don't.
posted by Metroid Baby at 8:00 AM on April 7, 2011

If you are using a front load washer (ie without agitator) it may work fine. perhaps put it in a porous bag (such as used for bras in washing machines) so it isn't completely flopping around. Gentle cycle, don't spin dry.
posted by edgeways at 8:29 AM on April 7, 2011

Yup. I forgot most washing machines in the States are top-loaders with agitators. Handwash!
posted by likeso at 8:30 AM on April 7, 2011

When I wash stuff thats dry clean only, which is often, I do the really delicate stuff in the sink by hand with Zero or Woolite. I make sure its really well rinsed then I lay it flat on top of a towel to dry so there is no stretching.
posted by SpaceWarp13 at 8:59 AM on April 7, 2011

Response by poster: I will definitely hand wash. No access to fancy dryers - just gross laundrymat ones. So I guess I will air dry on a clothing rack or outside. Should I try baking soda instead of laundry detergent? There aren't any stains or anything. It's just.. you know... stinky from sitting in my hamper.
posted by silverstatue at 9:11 AM on April 7, 2011

Best answer: Wash in cold and line dry. You'll be fine. They put "dry clean only" on stuff that they can't be bothered to construct properly and are afraid that it will fall apart in a washing machine. The fiber content should be fine to get wet though I guess the spandex might eventually degrade due to the heat of a dryer. There could be a little shrinkage from the dryer too so I'd just line dry it and not worry.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 9:28 AM on April 7, 2011

Yes. I wash all my "dry clean only" garments. I wash them on gentle in a top-loading washer, with cold water, and air dry. The only things I will not hand wash are highly structured garments. Leather, wool, and silk (fancy stuff) are probably better handled by a professional dry cleaner. But for cotton, linen, natural fibers, simple silk dresses and shirts, and synthetics, I just wash them myself.

You can wash wool sweaters too. Wash by hand in the sink with cold water and shampoo, put some hair conditioner in the rinse water. Roll them in a towel until almost dry, then lay out flat to finish drying. Do not rub or wring, just squeeze gently. Sweaters come out nicer than when dry cleaned.

If you are wondering what all the cryptic fabric care symbols mean, here is a chart.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 12:42 PM on April 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

I would use Woolite when you handwash.
posted by insectosaurus at 1:03 PM on April 7, 2011

This year I've saved a ton by handwashing all my super delicate, silk, "ZOMG do NOT wash, DRY CLEAN ONLY or I will self-destruct" dresses.

I fill the sink with cold water and a bit of wool wash, pop item in sink of water, jiggle it around a bit. If I feel it's a bit stinky, or needs extra help with stain/stink removal, I add either a little bit of nappy powder (gentle and stain removing) OR vinegar. after a few minutes of letting it sit in the water, I take it out, refill the sink in clean water, jiggle it around in there, then repeat so it gets 2 rinses. I do this so the item's delicate fibres don't have any detergent residue on it.

I don't wring anything out, I get out a large towel, lay it flat on the counter, then lay the wet item on top of it. Then I gently fold or roll up the towel, and once it's all in a bundle, lean on it with my hands flat.

I leave it in the towel for a minute or two, then unroll, and line dry but flat - with the item across several lines. This way you can gently pull it back into shape, AND it doesn't sag or stretch on the line.

Takes about 10 minutes all up. Haven't had a single delicate silk dress react badly so far. I'm sure your cotton shirt will be fine!
posted by shazzam! at 8:55 PM on April 7, 2011

Best answer: There's a book called Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson that is really great in explaining some of these things. She says a lot about dry cleaning, but here is one part I think is important: "Often, it is what the care labels do not say that creates confusion. For example, when both dry cleaning and washing are safe for regular use on a product, the rules [laws for care labels] do not presently require the manufacturer to say so on the care label. Rather, under the rule as it now stands, 'the label need have only one of these instructions.' Thus, a label that says 'Dry-clean' tells you neither that you can nor that you cannot also wash the article without harming it."
posted by Houstonian at 3:33 AM on April 8, 2011

Response by poster: ok i hand washed it in cold water with baking soda and it worked perfectly! now my shirt is clean and dry and not shrunk. Thanks everyone!
posted by silverstatue at 6:30 AM on April 8, 2011

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