Usually anything of mine that says "dry-clean only" on the tag might as well say "don't wash me ever", because taking clothes to the cleaners is pretty pricey, and honestly, who has the time? But it also seems like the more money I spend on a clothing item, the less I'm willing to just toss it in the washer, even if the tag says it's fine to go in the regular wash. If something is expensive, it should be dry-cleaned, right? Not necessarily.
I spoke to Rachel Zoe, designer and knower of all things clothing-related, to solve some of my laundry dilemmas.
Myth 1: Dry-cleaning your clothing will prevent it from getting pilled and pulled.
For those of you who overzealously dry-clean your clothes, read the labels on your clothing first! If something says "do not dry clean", it probably means the fabric has a special coating that can be removed by dry-cleaning solvents, aka could cause your clothes to pill down the road. If this is the case, Zoe says washing your clothes in the washer can actually help the fabrics stay more intact than with dry-cleaning.
Myth 2: Fabric conditioner (aka fabric softener) isn't necessary.
Clothing conditioner will protect the fibers in your clothing from abrasive damage that happens when you wash or wear it. Just like how your hair frizzes without using hair conditioner, your clothes will fuzz without fabric conditioner. Adding fabric conditioner when washing mildly aged fabrics will actually smooth out the fibers in the fabric (which helps the color appear more vibrant) and improve the appearance of the clothing.
Myth 3: You should wash it after every time you wear it.
Zoe says, "Really pay attention to the needs of your life and also to your garments. I only clean my clothes when I feel that they need it. Over-washing your clothes or washing them when they're not actually dirty is a common mistake people make." Items like jeans and some fabrics can be worn a few times without washing if they aren't stained, but certain things like underwear and workout clothes should be washed every time you wear them. That is, of course, unless you're just wearing yoga pants to watch TV, in which case you should wash them after two to three uses.
Myth 4: If you wash your clothes in the washer, they will shrink.
"I think a misconception sometimes is shrinking," Rachel says. "And in fact, typically that's actually done in the dryer, not in the washing machine." If the label on your clothing says you can wash it, you're totally fine doing so. Just make sure to let it air-dry instead of tumble-drying to prevent shrinking.
Myth 5: Hanging your clothes to dry is the best way to dry them.
"Sometimes drying your clothes on a hanger will actually cause damage," Rachel says. "On a really fragile knit, it will leave a hanger mark on it, so a lot of times I just lie them flat or I'll put them outside to dry."
Myth 6: Anything cashmere or silk must be dry-cleaned.
Cashmere, polyester, and silk are commonly known as fabrics that should only be dry-cleaned, but these fabrics are actually fine to wash in the washer. Instances when these shouldn't be washed is if the item is made with a special dye or delicately constructed. Read the care label to be sure.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.com. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.