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Dry Cleaning Alternatives

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I just hate the smell of the dry cleaning solution that seems to stay with my suits. That chemical smell just doesn't connote a clean garment in my mind. An elderly neighbor told me that it used to be common practice to hang garments outside on a cold, snowy day. Apparently the snow must have provided some cleaning benefit and certainly the cold air would help remove odors. Obviously this would not remove stains, but has anyone heard of this old time method? Anyone heard of any other alternatives?
 

johnnynorman3

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Well, if you get a soup stain or dressing stain etc. on your suit, I think that chemical cleaning of some form is your only option, though I suppose you could spot clean with a wet rag and woolite.

For me (I don't sweat much, mind you), I've found that steaming the garment, brushing it in key areas (shoulders, collar, cuffs), and then spot cleaning any dirt stains with a terry cloth and some water is sufficient. Hanging your clothes in an open space so that they air out is obviously good for your clothes. Hanging outside if possible (but be careful about sunlight exposure) is most definitely the best way to air out.
 

kabert

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Well, putting something outside on a clothesline is one thing; but I wouldn't put anything nice out in the snow -- I certainly woundn't want the fine lining of a suit jacket to get wet, as can happen in a wet snow. If the smell coming from your dry cleaners is so offensive, perhaps you should try a different cleaners. There's no chemically smell whatsoever on the clothes I get back from my dry cleaner.
 

petescolari

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Maybe where you are there is an equivalent to this company. This is from Boston Magazine's 'Best of Boston.'

DRY CLEANER, 2003
Ecoluxe
One Harvard Street , Brookline MA 617-566-4407
With reports out almost daily about the dangers of chemical cleaning solvents (perchloroethylene, for example, has been linked to liver damage and cancer), the organic and biodegradable cleaning methods at owner Shelly Mars's Ecoluxe are literally a breath of fresh air. Crunchy ethos notwithstanding, this small Boston chain is also a modern and decidedly bourgeois establishment. The clean, streamlined storefronts are so pretty they could be mistaken for boutiques, the polite and efficient service (from cleaning to pressing) never wavers, and home delivery is available.

I've never used them as I do most of my laundry myself, but possibly this is an option.
 

Concordia

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If you check Kilgour's website, you will find ample documentation of the British aversion to dry cleaning.

A friend of mine used to work in London in the early 70s, and remembers seeing cleaners advertise a "12-month crease" in their shop windows.

And in the middle of discussing fabric with a London tailor, I marveled as he pointed to his own suit that, he said, was 5 years old. "Still haven't dry cleaned it, of course, Sir."
 

kabert

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I was sartorially thrilled to discover last year that I can get my cleaners to simply "press" rather than dry clean my clothes. It's cheaper too.
 

corvo

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I think the person probably said to hang the clothes out in a FROST. I grew up on farms in the mountains. We used to hang game meats out in the frost to improve the taste. In the morning they have a "frosting" of blood on them and much of the gamey taste is taken out. Frost sucks moisture from things. Anyone who has had a crop hit by a few frosts in a row will know what I mean.

I think the clothes thing sounds like a good idea. In a frost the clothes will not get wet and I think the frost would have a cleaning action. I might start off with a cheaper garment though. I too, avoid dry cleaners if at all possible.
 
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Thanks for all of the replies. I have tried the approach I outlined earlier. First, I made sure it was cold enough and dry enough. In other words, the moisture level of the snow was low so that my suit wouldn't get sodden. I left it outside all day. There was some snow on the shoulders, but I just brushed it off at the end of the day when I did maintenance brushing on the suit. Hard to say if the suit was any cleaner, but it certainly had a fresh smell.
 

j

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If you still find you need to dry clean, take it to a different cleaner. From what I've heard some of them try to save money by reusing the cleaning fluids for far too long.

Also, is Febreze an option? I've never tried it, but I'm sure someone has.
 

LA Guy

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Will

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There is a relatively new, "green," cleaning process that is supposed to be less hard on clothes. Some San Francisco cleaners are promoting it.

There is also a new cabinet made by one of the appliance manufacturers for $3,000 that goes in the laundry room. One places woolens in it and they get cleaned without toxic chemicals. I was looking at it because I'm so far from competent cleaners in the country. Of course, the information is at that house and I don't recall the maker.

Will
 

retronotmetro

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There is a relatively new, "green," cleaning process that is supposed to be less hard on clothes. Some San Francisco cleaners are promoting it.

There is also a new cabinet made by one of the appliance manufacturers for $3,000 that goes in the laundry room. One places woolens in it and they get cleaned without toxic chemicals. I was looking at it because I'm so far from competent cleaners in the country. Of course, the information is at that house and I don't recall the maker.

Will
There are two of the "green" processes, one uses silicone and I think the other uses CO2. I have already seen articles suggesting that the "Green Earth" process--the silicone one--is toxic and carcinogenic, but I've also read that it really is easier on clothes. I guess that means it is at least 50% better than the old perc system.

I think the cabinet you mention is made by Maytag. I've seen ads for it--it seems to me like the device basically does a "steam fumigation" with a Febreze-like solution. I think it is supposed to release surface dirt but not stains. It sounds interesting but too expensive for me.
 

CaptChaos

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I can personally vouch for the liquid CO2 process. It cleans well, is environmentally friendly and doesn't leave any residual smell at all. My Cleaner
 

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