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Do Dry This at Home

At-home dry cleaning is cheaper than taking your delicates to a professional—but does it work?

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Woolite by Dry Cleaner’s Secret

What It Costs:
One box ($11 at Duane Reade) has enough towelettes to clean 24 garments at 46˘ per item.

Clothing:
A men’s button-down shirt with a sweat ring around the collar and cuff stains; a women’s silk shell.

What's Involved:
Pretreat stains by dabbing with the towelette, then place the towelette and clothes in the dryer for twenty minutes on medium heat.

The Results:
The Woolite freshened up musty fabric, but anything visible when we put the items in the dryer—like the collar sweat—was still there when we took them out. Wrinkles were relaxed but not eliminated.



Bounce 15 Minute Dry Cleaner

What It Costs:
One box ($10 at Bed Bath & Beyond) has enough dryer cloths to clean 32 garments at 31˘ per item.

Clothing:
A men’s dress shirt with soiled cuffs; a cotton-blend dress with deodorant residue.

What's Involved:
Pretreat stains by blotting with the cloth, then dry the cloth and clothing for fifteen minutes on medium heat.

The Results:
The cloth stood up nicely to light odor (a day in the office) but couldn’t knock out deeper-set smells (a night on the dance floor). It also failed to remove cuff soil and deodorant residue and, while soft, was hardly wrinkle-free.



Dryel In-Dryer Starter Kit

What It Costs:
One box ($9 at Walgreens) has a bag, two dryer cloths, and enough spray to clean eight garments at $1.12 per item.

Clothing:
A men’s button-down shirt with a sweat ring around the collar and lipstick stain; a delicate linen shirt.

What's Involved:
Spot-treat stains with the cleaning spray, then place the clothes and a dryer cloth in the reusable, zippered bag and dry for 30 minutes on medium heat.

The Results:
The garment bag did an admirable job protecting the clothes, which smelled as if they had been line-dried in some faraway meadow. The collar sweat was a bit faded, but the lipstick did not come out. Ironing is still a must.


The Verdict: Dryel beat out Bounce and Woolite—but only by a small margin. None of the kits trumped a professional dry cleaner.


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