Dry Cleaning: Do you actually have to pay for it?

“But how can I clean it? Do I actually have to bring it to a dry cleaner every time and pay for it?” I get asked these questions quite often by my friends and family once they realise that they have purchased garments that require some extra care. Some of you might have had some bad experiences in the past (bye bye cashmere sweater) and some of you might simply not enjoy the additional cost and effort of dry cleaning services. So as a co-founder of ILM, I wanted to share our expertise on how you can look after our wonderful kimonos and save both the money and the climate by cleaning them at home yourself.

Did you know that dry cleaning is not even dry?! Traditionally dry cleaning has been performed without the water but instead soaking the clothes into different chemicals.  For example, the most popular perchloroethylene (also known as perc) has catastrophic impacts not only on the health of workers, consumers but also the environment! Delicate and sensitive fabrics like silk, wool, cashmere, and some other fabric blends usually require dry cleaning to ensure that not only the colour will remain stable but the feel, body, and texture will stay intact too. The fabrics that usually require extra care are often considered to be premium fabrics, indeed, the same ones that you want to last forever in your wardrobe.

So how can you wash your garments made from delicate fabrics at home? There are actually tons of video hacks online on how to wash them with salt, vinegar, toothpaste, etc. Sure, there is a significant risk with washing dry-clean-only garments yourself, so we strongly recommend following the manufacturer's cleaning instructions for anything particularly beloved. Pretty much every delicate fabric can be damaged by your home washing efforts. That includes suede, leather, velvet, taffeta, rayon, and anything with fur or down. Suits, pleated skirts, and anything with significant or oil-based stains are also too tricky to tackle alone. These are all best left to dry cleaning professionals. So what does that leave? Wool, silk, cotton, linen, and durable polyester fabrics are all fair game for home washing.

If you are planning to try home washing, our first advice is to be gentle with fabrics - the main reason that manufacturers do not recommend putting it into the washing machine is because they do not even trust the ‘delicate wash’ cycle (and we don’t trust it either). Our recommendation is to wash your silk kimonos at home by hand in the cold water. We tested it many times and it worked for us! See below please the step by step guide for washing silk garments at home:

How to Hand Wash Silk Clothes: Step-by-Step Instructions
1. Take a basin or sink and fill it with lukewarm to cold water. Submerge the garment.
2. Mix in a few drops of gentle detergent and use your hand to stir it into the solution.
3. Leave the item to soak for three minutes.
4. Use your hands and plunge the garment up and down in the water gently to remove any dirt.
Please note that we DO NOT RECOMMEND removing stains by scrubbing both sides of the fabric as that most likely would ruin the fabric. In that case we recommend leaving the stain to soak for approximately 15 minutes.
5. Take the garment out and get rid of the dirty water. Rinse the item under cold water till it runs clear and all the soap has been washed out.
6. Use a towel to soak up the moisture from your silk garment, but don’t rub or agitate the item.
7. Place the item on a hanger or a drying rack and leave to dry out of the way of direct sunlight

P.S. For any stain that you are unable to remove, we recommend using professional dry cleaning services instead of trying to remove yourself.

Renata Andriusyte


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