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Tricks for Cleaning Your Clothes When You Can’t Afford to Dry Clean

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Oh, no! The big job interview is tomorrow and your favorite go-to power suit is sporting a stain from Starbucks. What can you do when your wallet contains only moths, and you can’t afford new duds for a big day or even a dry cleaner for an item already owned?

Relax. Various methods exist which, while they might not render dry cleaning obsolete entirely, nevertheless serve as handy fixes in a pinch. Here’s how to clean and refresh clothes when in a cash crunch.

Invest in a Tiny Steamer

Sometimes, even the most wrinkle-resistant clothing gets packed in a suitcase the wrong way or shoved into a drawer instead of hung. For minor wrinkling and cleaning, you can’t go wrong with a mini clothes steamer. Although some models cost hundreds, it’s possible to find inexpensive clothes steamers online or in big box scores for as low as $29.

Steam cleaning is non-toxic, and can remove minor stains as well as eliminating wrinkles. Using a paper towel, pass the steamer over the stain, blot, and repeat until no trace remains.

Choose the Right Fabrics

Sure, that linen suit makes you dream of touring the pyramids along the Nile like Indiana Jones, but how difficult is it to keep it wrinkle-free? Pretty darn tough. Certain fabrics, such as linen and some cotton blends, wrinkle easily, making even clean clothes look disheveled.

When buying new clothing, pay attention to the label. For warm weather looks, various polyester fabric blends resist wrinkling. For cooler climates and temperatures, fabrics like wool and cashmere fit the bill and keep you warm.

Use the Power of the Shower

Don’t have a steam cleaner handy? Nearly everyone has a shower, so use it to create de-wrinkling steam. Simply hang a jacket from the shower curtain rail and hang pants upside down on a towel rack using pins. Turn the water on as hot as it will go and close the bathroom door. Blot out minor stains while clothing remains slightly damp from the steam. If you live in a place prone to droughts, only do this when you’re taking a shower yourself, so you don’t waste water.

Dryer Sheets Make Good Friends

Does that cute blazer you pulled out of storage smell of moth balls and grandma’s house? It’s easy to freshen up clothing smelling less than clean with the help of a dryer and some fabric softener sheets. Simply toss the musty pieces into the dryer while still dry, toss in a sheet or three, and run a cycle for 10-15 minutes.

Like Your Mama Did Laundry

Remember when mom brought in laundry dried fresh on the line in the springtime sun? Fresh air eliminates clothing odors and leaves fabrics smelling fresh. Live in an HOA community where clotheslines are prohibited? Hang or drape items on patio chairs to dry.

Those who adore resting their weary heads on a freshly-scented pillow can use this technique instead of counting sheep. While pillowcases wash, line patio chairs with bed pillows to infuse them with a dreamy outdoor aroma.

Give It a Little Spritz

When you’re in a mad rush to get out the door and cannot spend the time to use a dryer sheet or clothing line to refresh stale duds, using a few spritzes of a diluted body spray can freshen clothing on the go. Take a hard pass on heavy perfumes — you don’t want to overwhelm folks with sensitive sniffers. Those who always wear the same fragrance may not detect how strong their scent is, but those who live, work and commute with them can.

Instead of opting for commercial fragrances, keep a spray bottle with a few drops of essential oil dissolved in water. Not only can this freshen clothing in a pinch, it can help boost your mood, too. Use lively citrus essential oil to increase energy and focus, and lavender to bust stress and aid in relaxation.

Use Vinegar on Stains

Clothing stains look unsightly and sloppy, even though, TBH, we all experience coffee spills and wayward globs of mustard. Fortunately, the perfect remedy for most stains already hangs out in most pantries. Vinegar can treat anything from bloodstains to grass stains. For light stains, dilute one-part vinegar with two parts water, spray on the stain, allow the item to line dry and then launder as usual.

Tougher stains may require more than one treatment with vinegar. Use pure white vinegar at 100 percent concentration to dissolve spilled Merlot or spaghetti sauce.

Looking Good Without Getting Taken to the Cleaners

Dressing for success need not mean dropping a ton of money on dry cleaning. With a bit of innovation, anyone can care for their precious garments while treating wrinkles, stains and odors right at home.

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Kacey Bradley

Kacey Bradley

Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective. Throughout her life, she has found excitement in the world around her.

Kacey has been able to further her knowledge and interest for nature, understand the power of exploring other locations, and embrace the styles and cultures that surround her through her passion for writing and expression.