Is Hand Washing Clothes Better Than Dry Cleaning Them? - Clothes Doctor

Is Hand Washing Clothes Better Than Dry Cleaning Them?

As steps are slowly being made towards more sustainable fashion and clothing care habits, people are coming to wonder whether dry cleaning is as cost-effective, as eco-friendly, and even as necessary, as it used to be. Is hand washing clothes the way forward? 
Slowly the world is realising that those ‘dry clean only’ labels we find in our garments are often just a myth of caution. In fact, it is possible, and often easier, to hand wash most ‘dry clean only’ garments - the general rule of thumb is that so long as you are using cool water, a gentle detergent, and a careful hand, you can mostly be hand washing clothes at home. Make sure to read What Can And Can't Be Washed At Home before diving for the detergent though, as, it’s true, some fabrics are best dry cleaned.

Why is hand washing clothes better than dry cleaning? 

There is no doubt that dry cleaning will clean your clothes effectively – it does what it says on the tin – but the environmental impact of dry cleaning coupled with the fact that you can achieve similar results at home begs us to reconsider if it is necessary to dry clean more than a couple of garments every now and then.
 The environmental impact of dry cleaning cannot be ignored; most dry cleaners still present your laundered shirt back to you on a hanger in plastic wrap. How many of those plastic wraps do they get through in a day? Who knows? But the amount of daily waste produced is just the first reason to reconsider your dry cleaning habits.
Dry cleaning, contrary to its name, uses liquid solvents to dissolve stains and dirt, the most common being PERC. Another neon sign flashing the word ‘unsustainable’ is illuminated when you realise that PERC is made from petroleum, sourced from fossil fuels, and is thusly a non-renewable energy source. Moreover, using PERC to treat clothing also requires extreme heat, which only consumes more energy, hence why dry cleaning is often quite expensive – for the most part, you can save your money and wash at home!
Hand washing clothes is not only cheaper, more sustainable, and less effort than traipsing to the dry cleaner – it means you have control over treating your clothing (so you can probably get that pesto stain out of your shirt quicker than it would take to walk to the dry cleaner). With a simple soak with detergent and a flat air dry, you can achieve dry cleaner standard laundry in your own kitchen sink. Try our Basil & Mandarin Leaf Eco Liquid Detergent for the perfect gentle clean at home. 

The most sustainable thing? To wash less!

While hand washing clothes is certainly more eco-friendly than dry cleaning, if you're looking to minimise the carbon footprint of your laundry routine even further, all you have to do is wash your clothes less. 
You don't need to be washing your clothes as often as you might think, and the benefits of washing clothes less are threefold: 
  • Less washing means less wear and tear on your garments, meaning they'll serve you for longer.
  • Less washing means your machine is powered up far less; good for your energy bill, and for the planet.
  • Less washing means fewer microfibres from your clothes are released back into the water supply, which can harm aquatic life, and thus, harm our ecosystems. 

How often you should really wash clothes depends on the type of fabric, and on how often you're wearing it, but our rule of thumb is: only wash clothes when they are dirty. If you're looking to give your clothes a refresh between washes, we recommend steaming clothes - it kills up to 96% of the bacteria on your clothes, without the need for a full wet wash. Add a dash of our Steamer Water in Blue Lily and Bergamot for a hit of lasting floral freshness. Plus, shop our range of clothing sprays with fragrances to suit every mood. 

Tah dah, now you know! You should really only be trekking to the dry cleaner for a couple of specialist garments, and most of the time you can be hand-washing clothes at home! Shop our whole range of dry cleaning alternatives products, and the rest of our range below.


Knitwear Mist - Cedarwood and Vanilla
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Eco Wash Signature Detergent
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Basil & Mandarin Leaf Ultimate Duo Box
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Cashmere Comb in Red Cedarwood
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