Do people really dry clean their linen?
September 23, 2007 1:23 PM   Subscribe

I find it hard to find a duvet cover that I like, and now that I've finally found this one, I'm dubious because it says dry clean. How can this be? Who dry cleans their linen? Is this common? Is this a subculture I've just blissfully been unaware of my entire adult life? Or are the manufacturers being overcautious and you can just shove it in with your regular wash?
posted by russmail to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It's a silk blend, which is probably a big part of the reason why it says dry clean. Some manufacturers are overly cautious and do suggest dry cleaning fabrics that can be washed with care, but silks rarely wash well.

It may also not be a duvet cover but a bedspread (it says duvet, but it doesn't say cover), and depending on what they're filled with, you mght not want to wash that, either.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:28 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

It's a duvet cover; see the bit about it having a "button closure". One edge opens up so you can insert the duvet.

russmail - I agree with jacquilynne that it probably says dry clean because it has silk in it. Many or most 100% silks can be hand-washed even though they will usually say dry clean only. But for something the size of a duvet cover it's gotta be easier just to bring it to a dry cleaner.

How often would you have to have it dry cleaned, though? Assuming you use a top-sheet that you wash regularly, of course.
posted by Justinian at 1:44 PM on September 23, 2007

Oh, right, missed the 'button closure' bit.
posted by jacquilynne at 1:52 PM on September 23, 2007

I have a cotton jersey duvet cover that I toss in the wash from time to time to keep it fresh - if I had to dry clean it, it would be a pain, especially because the nearest dry cleaners also charges me $50 to dry-clean the duvet itself. Then again, my cover is really more like a giant t-shirt than the lovely one you've linked to.
posted by pinky at 2:00 PM on September 23, 2007

As jacquilynne says, it's because it's a silk blend. If it was a cotton blend, you could almost certainly toss it in the washing machine with no ill effect (that's what I do with my cotton duvet), but with silk you run the risk of doing damage to the color or the fabric itself.
posted by scody at 2:08 PM on September 23, 2007

I've owned and jand-washed silk blend items of clothing, but a duvet cover is pretty large for handwashing. Even at the sale price, it's expensive enough that I'd think twice about the gentle cycle on a machine.
posted by theora55 at 2:49 PM on September 23, 2007

posted by theora55 at 2:49 PM on September 23, 2007

It's not reflective of a fastidious subculture of people who dry clean their pillow shams and hand towels as much as it is of the mainstream culture who'll buy all manner of impracticalities. I'm guilty of the frippery too, lots of silk satin blouses and dresses and such, and as Mitch Hedberg said - This shirt is dry clean only. That means... it's dirty.

That said, if it's silk/poly, it'll probably resist overwrinklage and if you're good about not soiling it, and you just lovelovelove it, it might be worth the extra embedded expense. Call your dry cleaner, ask how much a silk duvet cover costs to clean, and figure on that amount at least once a year for as long as you hope to keep it. Then compare with your other linen options.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:50 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

To be clear, don't wash silk. It warps, dulls, does other unattractive things.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:56 PM on September 23, 2007

This comes in chocolate and is machine wash. This one comes in chocolate/taupe.
posted by barnone at 2:59 PM on September 23, 2007

You might find something at Velocity. This one is chocolate. Dwell also has some nice, clean modern duvet covers. All machine washable.
posted by barnone at 3:03 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

Which is to say: don't get a dry clean only duvet cover. Unless the bed will be used infrequently and you have lots of time to deal with such things, the hassle and expense is rarely worth it. There are lots of options with a similar style and fabric sheen.
posted by barnone at 4:19 PM on September 23, 2007

Ambrosia Voyeur: My understanding is that only Dupioni silk must be dry cleaned. Most silks do just fine with a gentle handwashing unless they are vulnerable to shrinking.

Some silk merchants say that hand-washing well is better than dry cleaning which will leave the silk dull. Here for example.

russmail - like I said, though, that doesn't mean you should handwash a duvet cover. It's much too big and it wouldn't dry properly. Dry clean is the only way to go with it.
posted by Justinian at 4:37 PM on September 23, 2007

I have a hand-embroidered egpytian linen duvet cover that I'm rather fond of - got it at 90% discount at ABC Carpet and Home in New York. It was still more than I've ever paid for a duvet cover.

The label says dry clean only and I've paid $80 to dry clean it a few times, but I finally tired of this and tried washing and drying it - inside-out - on the delicate cycle with only a little detergent. That worked OK too.
posted by ikkyu2 at 4:51 PM on September 23, 2007

Not so much 'overcautious' as 'shady,' I think. Lots of cheap clothing is marked 'dry clean only' because it's such junk that it's likely to fall apart if machine-washed. It should be machine-washable, but it's crap, so the seams will pucker or whatever, and anybody thinking of returning it can be told 'But you didn't follow the instructions...'

Something to consider; I'm wary of 'dry clean only' appearing in unlikely places. I've laundered loads of silk. Any duvet cover that was thoughtfully made would let you put it in a gentle cycle.

For that price, get something custom-made...?
posted by kmennie at 7:12 PM on September 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

I am no longer afraid of buying dry clean only, since I started using those dry-clean at home products (Dryel or Dry Cleaner's Secret). Its cheaper and more convenient than the dry cleaner and it seems to do the job just fine. Just pop your silky duvet cover in the tumble drier with the special sheet for 30 mins and bingo. I love that stuff.
posted by Joh at 10:24 AM on September 24, 2007

Ambrosia Voyeur: My understanding is that only Dupioni silk must be dry cleaned. Most silks do just fine with a gentle handwashing unless they are vulnerable to shrinking.

It depends on the quality of the silk: lower-quality silk can become dull and rough even with handwashing. As far as the question goes, no way in hell would I hand wash a duvet cover. Even if you washed it in a bathtub, the difficulty of blotting it and finding a flat place to spread it out to dry seems a nightmare. I suppose you could hang it, but you don't want to hang silk in direct sunlight, as it may fade or yellow.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:59 PM on September 24, 2007

I had a silk blend duvet that got a stain on it and I just handwashed that spot alone. It's been my experience that once duvet covers are dry-cleaned, hand washed or just run through the laundry that they lose their pretty finish and don't ever look as good.

I usually get tired of a bedding set before it needs to be cleaned anyway. If the family's all hanging out in the bedroom watching tv, I remove the duvet cover just in case. I buy inexpensive ones and it works better for me to change often rather than launder!
posted by msbaby at 1:14 PM on September 25, 2007

« Older Sealing Exposed Brick Wall   |   Selling a book from the middle of nowhere? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.