What Goes to the Cleaners

1. Anything that’s embellished

Because embellishments (such as sequins, beads, and metal studs) are often hand-stitched to clothing or simply hanging by a thread, putting them through a wash cycle will likely end in disaster. For a deep clean that won’t jeopardize the details, drop your bedecked stuff off at the dry cleaners.

2. Dark colored silks

Although some silks can endure a solid hand-wash, darker-colored ones have a tendency to bleed and stain clothes and surfaces. Try wetting a small patch of the silk and blotting it dry with a white paper towel; if it leaves any color behind, take it to the cleaners.

3. Suits

When spot cleaning doesn’t do the trick, it’s time to take your suits—especially your wool ones—to the dry cleaners. Not only will it keep your pants and jacket looking extra crisp, it will add years to their life.

4. Anything with pleating

There’s no doubt about it: If an item has pleating, it’s got to go to the dry cleaners. Not only can the professional preserve your folds and pleats, most have re-pleating machines that can rescue any receding ones when necessary.

5. Badly-stained items

No matter how stained or soiled your comforter may be, it’s nothing a professional cleaner can’t handle. Along with powerful degreasers, soaps, and solvents, your local dry cleaner is trained in the art of impossible stain removal.

6. Fragile and synthetic materials

Even though some labels will say they’re safe to hand wash, fragile synthetic fabrics like rayon and chiffon are known to shrink when exposed to heat, and as a result, are best left in the hands of a pro.

7. Anything with a lining

An easy rule of thumb to remember is that anything with a proper lining—dresses, jackets, skirts, etc.—needs to be dry cleaned. Because water alone can break apart their interlinings, your lined garments should only be trusted with a professional.

8. Leather and suede

While some will argue that you can wash it at home, for your beloved leather jacket’s sake, just drop it off at the dry cleaners. Along with reducing the chance of cracks and shrivels in the fabric, you won’t have to worry about major shrinkage.

9. Furs

Although wearing animal fur is a subject of fierce debate, any fur that has skin on the underside should not be washed at home since the skin will shrink and dry out when exposed to water. Additionally, vintage furs (like mink coats or fox stoles) are very delicate and can become dry and brittle, and therefore should be handled by a professional only.