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Dry Cleaning in Your Dryer
by Deborah Michelle Sanders, J.D.

You can dry-clean clothes at home for about 50 cents per garment by using Custom Cleaner Home Dry Cleaning kit (which is sold in a blue box in the laundry detergent aisle, priced for somewhere between $7 and $9). The initial kit includes a special heavy plastic bag with a reclosable seal and 3 special dry-cleaning sheets. You place a dry-cleaning sheet in the bag along with your 4 blouses or 2 large garments and seal the bag.  Then you tumble-dry the bag on low heat or the permanent-press setting. 

There is also a refill kit sold, with 5 dry-cleaning sheets but no plastic bag. The plastic bag lasts for 8 dry-cleaning cycles in my experience (the manufacturer claims it will last for 20).

I have found results from using the Custom Cleaner kits very satisfactory with silk blouses and dresses. I would go to a professional dry-cleaner, however, if there were stains on such garments, even though the manufacturer of Custom Cleaner gives directions for stain removal.  This is because of an interview I had with David Uchic of the International Fabricare Institute. He says that the Custom Cleaner kit (and Proctor & Gamble's competing product, Dry Elle, which is not yet on the market) simply "freshens" garments between regular
dry-cleanings. He says that the kits will remove the smell of smoke from garments, for example. But they will not remove dirt. 

Furthermore, it is important to remove dirt before pressing a garment. Mr. Uchic feels that it is unethical for Custom Cleaner to advertise that it "dry-cleans" garments because it sounds as though it is safe to iron the garment after its being "freshened" with the kit.

In any event, Custom Cleaner is definitely not suitable for tailored garments such as jackets or sportscoats. And a raincoat or winter coat is simply too heavy to be used in the kit's plastic bag.

Still, despite its limitations, it is wonderful to be able to save on dry-cleaning bills, even if all you can do with the kits is to "freshen" lightweight garments between regular dry-cleanings.

Reprinted with permission.




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