Laundry Hack: How To Dry Clean Your Clothes At Home

DIY Dry Cleaning

A while back, I received an email from a reader asking if I knew of a way to make a homemade version of Dryel. My initial reaction to this email was mostly confusion, because at that point, I had never heard of Dryel and didn’t have a clue what it did! So I did a bit of research, and discovered that Dryel is an at-home alternative to dry cleaning. The Dryel starter kit includes an odor and wrinkle releaser spray, a steam bag, and their special steam-activated cleaning cloths.

I saw the appeal of this product immediately. After all, being able to replicate the effects of dry cleaning at home would certainly be very convenient! I personally avoid “dry clean only” fabrics because I’d rather not deal with the hassle of dry cleaning. But further research revealed that Dryel and other at-home dry cleaning products only freshen fabrics, and don’t replace commercial dry cleaning. So what’s the difference?

DIY Dry Cleaning

Commercial Dry Cleaning vs. At-Home Dry Cleaner

Commercial dry cleaners use a highly volatile fluid and very high heat to achieve that clean and pressed look. Due to the supplies and equipment required, it’s really not something that can be duplicated at home. With that being said, at-home dry cleaning products do have a certain usefulness.

For instance, at-home dry cleaners are great for those times that you want to freshen up a piece of clothing without sending it through your washing machine. You know that nice pair of dark jeans that you’re afraid will fade in the wash? That’s where at-home dry cleaner products can really come in handy. Here’s how to do it yourself at home!

Related: How To Break The “Dry Clean Only” Rule The Right Way

How To Make Your Own At-Home Dry Cleaner (AKA Dryel)

DIY Dry Cleaning

Ingredients:

1 cup warm water
1 tsp borax
1 tsp oxygen bleach
3 drops lavender essential oil

Supplies:

NOTE: I’m still not entirely sure how to replicate the steam bag from the Dryel kit. I ended up buying the kit just so I could use the bag, but you could try using something similar like a zippered pillow protector instead!

DIY Dry Cleaning

Directions:

Step 1 – Pretreat It

If there are any dirty areas of your clothing item, pretreat those first. Just spray the affected areas with a spray bottle of hydrogen peroxide, and dab with a clean cloth to help lift the stain out.

DIY Dry Cleaning

Step 2 – Bag It

Next, add the water, borax, oxygen bleach, and lavender essential oil to a small bowl and stir to combine.

DIY Dry Cleaning

Soak a clean cloth in the solution, then squeeze some of the liquid out (just so it isn’t dripping.)

DIY Dry Cleaning

Toss the saturated cloth into the steam bag, along with the clothing item you want to clean.

DIY Dry Cleaning

Step 3 – Dry It

Zip the bag closed, place it in your dryer, then run the dryer for about 30 minutes.

DIY Dry Cleaning

Remove the item from the bag and hang it up immediately to prevent wrinkles from forming. (It might be slightly damp, but that’s normal.)

While this may not be a replacement for dry cleaning, I’m quite pleased with the results that I got from using this method! And I’m confident that you will be just as happy. Your clothes will look and smell markedly fresher, all while retaining their color and shape! :-)

Have you ever tried an at-home dry cleaner on your clothes?

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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee

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Homekeeping Tips

  • Yes, I have used Dryel before and it might be ok for women’s dresses. But I tried it my husband’s white work shirts, trying to save money from the cleaners. But it doesn’t take out collar ring or sweat stains nor does it remove the odor. I tried them quite a few times before I gave up. Women’s dresses don’t usually get very dirty, in my case anyway, so they may work ok for them. But you’ll never get dry cleaner cleaning from it.

    • It will if you let it sit for too long. A quick spray before a wash won’t harm colors, but spraying and letting sit for week could bleach the item.

  • I love your DYI most of the time. I own a dry cleaners and I have no problem with people maintaining their clothing at home but sometimes they do more harm than good. Hydrogen peroxide is a bleach and on certain fabrics it will cause immediate color loss. Many fabrics are not color stable and it doesn’t take much to move the color so spot cleaning is not always a good idea unless you want another kind of spot. Dryer came on the market advertising it replaced dry cleaning which was just not true. It just adds fragrance to your garment. It may remove some loose fibers but it does not clean it. Dry cleaning is a process using a different type of fluid but garments are submerged in the fluid with a special soap and then dried by extracting the fluid. The chemicals used today are very regulated and very safe. The heat process is high for some things but many things are processed at low heat to protect the garments. I know dry cleaning is expensive. It costs a lot to operate a dry cleaners. It is extremely hard work and profits are not great. It can be very useful in keeping your garments to last. Having your jeans cleaned and professionally pressed every few months can help maintain the color and the the finish. If you pay a lot of money eyes for a garment is it not worth paying a little extra to keep it looking good? I realize you will think I am prejudice but don’t give out inaccurate information. I trust your blog too much for that.

    • I mean this respectfully, but I’m not sure if you read the whole post, because she stated a lot of what you just put. She said it is not a replacement, and gave some info on real dry cleaning. Thank you for your additional insight though! I don’t think her intent was to insult your industry, it was just another way to refresh fabrics in-between cleaning.

  • Hi, I really love this idea and thank you for posting it. However, I am confused as to why you suggest hydrogen peroxide. I once treated a stain in a light colored comforter and it left the spot lighter as if it had been bleached. It would make me nervous to use it as a spot treatment on a dark garment. Could you please let me know what you think about my fear? Also, if I didn’t use hydrogen peroxide can you suggest a substitute? Your posts are helpful. Keep up the good work!

    • Hi Sandy! Hydrogen peroxide is my favorite stain remover! It is capable of bleaching items, but you’ll be safe as long as you use a small amount and wash the item (or “dry clean” it) after application :-)

  • This seems like a much better idea than the Dryel. I used it on my favorite dress that was dry clean only about 20 years ago. What a mistake that was. The dress was of a thinner material and on close inspection when I took it out of the bag, it not only had a STRONG flowery scent, but my dress had tiny holes in it that looked like they were burned in. I never used Dryel again.

    I would really only worry about the Borax in your mixture, as I use Borax in my liquid laundry soap that I make myself and I have to use the extra rinse on every load I do just to make sure that I don’t end up with white spots on my dark clothing (although, admittedly, this could be from the washing soda that is used in the soap, also).

    I might try this if I have something of a lighter color that needs dry cleaning!

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