Monday, February 9, 2009

J.Crew Dry Clean Items {how do you care for them?}

"Thanks!" to Anon at 12:20 AM (in this post) who came up with a great post topic: "I thought I'd suggest a topic for a post -- washing/care. The majority of jcrew sweaters are dry clean only. I'm wondering whether others have tried hand washing instead & what their experience has been. I didn't have that great of results washing my tartine cardigan & now I'm worried about wrecking other sweaters (like the Lea)."

Is it just me, or has the number of their tops, (including sweaters, camis,... even tees!) requiring "dry clean" increased over the years? It seems like every other top I purchased this past Fall/Winter had to be dry cleaned. Considering the amount, my trips to the dry cleaners were sure adding up. ;)

As a result, I have been turning to Dryel (click here). I have to admit, it works. I used it on a variety of items including the Silk Elizabeth Halters (Item 95001; was $89.50, now $59.99), the Victoria Ruffle Shirts (Item 99694, $89.50), and even the Candy Tees (Item 10605; was $49.50, now $9.99). So far, I have been pleased with the results. Of course, this method is no where near the same results that I would get at the dry cleaners- but it is "good enough" and is way better for my wallet. ;)

What are your methods for "dry clean" only J.Crew items? Have you tried alternative methods (e.g. hand washing, Dryel)? If so, please share with us your results. :)

78 comments:

  1. I have a wool setting on my HE washer, which I absolutely love because it washes my wool well and it saves a TON on dry cleaning. I also use Dryel for other things and find it works great as well. I hardly ever take anything to the dry cleaners because I have had too many J.Crew buttons ruined and I don't like the smell of dry cleaning solvent.

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  2. I Dryel too! Cashmere, silk tops, everything. Works like a charm :)

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  3. Also, I've said it before and I'll say it again: there is a way to get "pilling" out of sweaters that is easy and cost efficient. If you cannot find a wool comb, then you can buy a flea comb from a pet store and use it to gently brush your wool sweaters. The pilling will come right out of the sweater.

    Obviously, you should never use the same comb on your dog, but it has worked wonders for my sweaters.

    I just thought I would throw that out there because there are a lot of people who complain about sweater "pilling" on the site.

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  4. Curious how people are cleaning chiffon. I had a Lili merino chiffon cardigan, and I dry cleaned it. The chiffon petals came out all tattered, and the sweater is unwearable now. My dry cleaner is excellent, and this is the only problem I have ever had, so I don't think it's the establishment. I re-ordered the sweater because I love it so much and now I asm afraid to wear it!!!

    Also curious about cleaning of flower tanks and chiffon rose tees???

    --lucegirl

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  5. I handwash all of my sweaters (merino, cashmere) in cold to lukewarm water, then pat dry on a large towel. I handwashed a Jcrew cashmere argyle bow vest before, and it did not shrink. It did, however, get a bit fuzzier, so your sweater probably won't be 100% the same after you wash it.

    I have a BR cotton v-neck with silk chiffon ruffle at the neckline. I just realized that the chiffon is 100% silk - I've been throwing it into the washing machine on cold and it hasn't messed up the ruffle at all.

    As for pilling, I use a sweater stone. It's basically a pumice stone. I got mine for a few dollars at Eddie Bauer. I like it better than a sweater shaver because it's more gradual and you don't run the risk of shaving a hole into your sweater.

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  6. anon @ 12:17 -- thanks for your input on chiffon. Now I'm scared to clean my Tartines. :( I'd like to hear other opinions on how cardigans with chiffon trim are best cleaned.

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  7. two more things.... In my experience BR sweaters stand up strong to hand washing and machine washing, but J Crew sweaters don't.

    BR was selling sweater stones last time I was there. They were by the registers.

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  8. Well, I get free dry cleaning, so . . . I get them dry cleaned. Lol.

    I did however toss my "dry clean only" merino sweaters into my washer by accident, but it came out alright.

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  9. What are sweater stones?
    Does anyone use a shaver to remove pilling?

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  10. I will have to try a sweater stone as well. I'll check out BR and Brooks Brothers next time I am in there.

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  11. hi,
    i handwashed my merino v-neck sweater and it come out slightly smaller. i can still wear it it is just very fitted.

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  12. Thanks for the hint about the flea comb Ameilia! I am going out to purchase one today -- I have some dream sweaters that are in desparate need of care. :o)

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  13. Michelle - your welcome. I am going to try the sweater stone too but the flea comb works miracles. It basically just works as a very fine tooth comb and gets the pilling out. A sweater stone works like any kind of pumice, I imagine. You just have to be delicate when working with the flea comb.

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  14. I washed my Lea in cold water and it shrank considerably in the arms. I don't have thin arms to start with, and now the sleeves are sausage tight :(

    I've been okay handwashing silk stuff (Joelle cami comes to mind) cashmere, but merino wool has a tendency to shrink so I won't be doing that again.

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  15. Oh, to add - I didn't put the Lea in the dryer, so I thought it'd be okay. I'm hoping it'll stretch back out and/or I'll lose some weight.

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  16. I wash the sweaters on the delicate cycle and then air dry (place flat on table top; smooth out wrinkles). They turn out perfectly. I'm a guy though so maybe the women's ones are different.

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  17. How about the merino rose cardigan? How has that washed or dry cleaned???

    Thanks.

    Anna

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  18. I have been wondering about this, I have to clean my cashmere hat and sweater soon and I am afraid to handwash them.

    I agree with BR cashmere you do not have to worry about hand washing it it comes out perfect every time.

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  19. Another inexpensive way to remove pilling is to buy a pumice stone. Choose the lightweight stone, which is usually colored blue or pink, avoid the heavy gray stones. The "Sweater Stone" that retails for $18 is exactly that, a lightweight pumice stone.

    Gently rub it over the sweater in one direction and the pilling will pile up on the stone. Now and then remove the fuzz from the stone and continue.

    Pumice stones retail for $2 or something and they work very well.

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  20. For silk camis and sweaters, I use the cold wool or gentle cycle on the machine and good ole woolite. They go in different loads though. Usually I dry on low or fluff in the dryer for a few minutes to get the wrinkles out, then lay them flat.

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  21. lucegirl,

    I feel like it actually might be your dry cleaners. I'm think the flowers on the perfect-fit flower tanks were all chiffon and the only time I had one turn out tattered was when I tried to lauder it. When I send it to the cry cleaners they come out fine.

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  22. I very carefully used a sweater shaver on a favorite BR merino sweater and put a hole in it. :( after much cursing, I told myself I'd get a sweater stone from BR.

    Now, how do I repair this sweater? Does BR or Jcrew offer sweater repair if it's their sweater? I'm afraid to take it to a tailor and pay through the nose for a small hole. I think I found the matching spare thread.

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  23. DO NOT put anything "chiffon rose" in the washer. One of my tanks accidently made it in there and now the flowers are shredded and poofy! I would recommend hand washing these items only. Of course, it says this on the tag, if I'd only had read it!

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  24. I'm curious too as all my wool/cashmere shrinks a bit even though I hand wash cold. Wonder what I'm doing wrong.

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  25. Can someone explain to me how Dryel works? It looks like you put something in the dryer with your clothes. Doesn't that shrink them? I'm very intrigued. Thanks :)

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  26. Anon at 2:20am, I always think the same way..if something shrinks I'm like it'll fit better when I lose weight : )

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  27. I have "hand washed" plenty of J.Crew dry-clean only sweaters without a problem. The key is to handle the sweaters as minimally as possible.

    I fill up the tub with lukewarm water, add a little bit of Woolite, and then literally place the sweater on top of the water. You don't have to submerge it or agitate at all. Over time, the sweater will sink down into the water. I usually let the sweater there for at least several hours but often overnight. Diffusion does the trick, and the dirt will come out of the sweater.

    Gently remove the sweater from the bath and place on a thick towel. I then put another towel on top and press to remove excess water. remove the top towel, then shape the sweater properly and allow to air dry over the next day or two.

    This is all a major pain in the ass, but it gets around the dry cleaners without ruining the sweater.

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  28. Has anyone tried Dry Cleaners Secret? It's just the sheets, you don't need the bag like you do in Dryel..I think it works pretty well

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  29. I use Dryel for all of my jcrew sweaters and dry clean only dresses, and I handwash jcrew tights with a little woolite.

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  30. I've successfully used a product called *Dry Cleaner's Secret* (which is a less expensive version of Dryel) on all of my Silk and Cashmere pieces.

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  31. I follow Candid Engineer's method but my grandmother taught me to draw an outline of my sweater (on tissue paper) before I washed it. Then when you lay it flat to dry, use the outline to coax it back into the exact shape it was in before washing. Knitters call this process "blocking". You can even use straight pins to keep things in place while the sweater is drying.

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  32. I almost exclusively use the "hand wash" feature on my washer. It is front-loading, so there is no agitator...I know that helps keep the wear down.

    I never dry (in the dryer) anything outside of a few pjs and socks, so I have these huge hanging lines in my basement for the air-drying of these items. I have yet to have any shrinking on any of my items, including the merino. I love how my cashmere comes out...nice and soft.

    I will always bring my silk items to a dry cleaner, though. I think they do an awesome job with silk and rayon, etc.

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  33. I have been holding out cleaning my Merino trois-rosette tank (99324) - I have it in two colors and haven't even worn one after seeing how much just wearing the other did a job on the chiffon flowers (under a suit jacket). Is there anything we can put on the flowers to keep them from fraying (not just in the wash, but in everyday wear)? I debated using clear nail polish to "seal" the ends/tips of the flowers, but that will take forever I think. Maybe loading it up w/ spray starch (given that won't last through a wash)?

    Would love any ideas! I want to wear these tops (I have the chiffon flower favorite fit tanks too) w/o being afraid of the flowers turning into raggedy messes by the end of the day!

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  34. Dry cleaning actually harms wool and cashmere fibers because it strips them of their natural oils.

    Jcrew merino sweaters can be washed in the washer (pref. front loader), cold, gentle cycle. To avoid shrinking, block the sweater (shape it and pull it to previous size) and dry it flat. A quick iron or steam will make the sweater look like it came back from the dry cleaner.

    For the person asking: my Tartine sweaters and cardigans came out just fine through this process.

    DO NOT DO THIS with the latest CASHMERE. JCrew is now using shorter fiber cashmere and they do not survive the wash. Hand wash cashmere instead.

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  35. I use Dry Cleaner's Secret as well - works great and really is very inexpensive. About once a year I cart everything to an actual dry cleaner and bite the bullet on the large tab. But for week-to-week washing, Dry Cleaner's Secret does a good, affordable job.

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  36. J.Crew and other brands differentiate between "Dry Clean" and "Dry Clean Only" on their care tags. If it says "Dry Clean" you can hand wash at your own risk. "Dry Clean Only" truly means that the garments should be dry cleaned. Normally sweaters say "Dry Clean" and wool pants, lined pants, blazers, etc. say "Dry Clean Only".

    You can buy sweater stones (for $7.99) and cashmere combs ($2.49) from the Container Store (and on their website). These are much better for your sweaters than a sweater shaver.

    I have always hand washed and flat dried my J.Crew sweaters and they turn out great. Once they are dry I usually throw them in the dryer on the air cycle to fluff them out again.

    Hope this helps!

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  37. Re: pilling, sweater combs work well on thick to medium weight wool and cashmere, but on the featherweight merino and cashmere, the fabric is not thick enough to comb stuff off. It leaves your sweater looking bald. I just went through a huge pile of stuff to dryel yesterday; surprise surprise I found several holes in my featherweight merino cardigan; yet none of the other sweaters were damaged (so I don't think I have a moth problem). I will not buy anymore featherweight sweaters because they always have to go in the garbage after 2 wearings.

    For the person who was asking--there's no such thing as a sweater repair service--those are not high enough margin items for a store to bother.

    For the other person asking--Dryel works like a steam cleaner--you put your clothes inside a bag with the moist cloth. The heat from the dryer turns the moisture from the cloth into a steam clean environment inside the bag. There is no shrinkage.

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  38. I recommend The Laundress stuff. They have and awesome cashmere detergent and a sweater stone. the also have "stain bars" that are supposed to work on wool/cashmere as well as other fabrics. I ordered the stain bars and am waiting for them so we'll see how the work. But the Laundress stuff is amazing.

    Jenn

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  39. I have been following the same protocol as Candid Engineer for my cashmere using Woolite, laying flat, etc with the exception that I only use cold water; They always turn out beautiful. Considering my dry cleaner charges between $5-$6/piece, I find it worth the time to hand wash. I have used a shaver to remove fuzz with great success.

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  40. I just want to be clear -- has anyone had a problem putting their cashmere in the dryer? I am a little apprehensive...

    Also, does anybody have any idea how to clean the Distressed Vintage Slim jeans? They are so distressed that I feel like putting them in the washing machine would make them fall apart...

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  41. I use a product called "soak" http://www.soakwash.com/
    I use for all my sweaters (even those with embellishments), delicate fabrics, my candy tee, yoga wear, swimwear and tights.
    It's easy to use (literally you just soak your garments, no rinsing or wringing) & it smells great.
    One tip is to roll your sweaters in a clean towel to get most of the water out. Then reshape and lay the clothes flat to dry.
    I find this method is not only cheaper than dry cleaning (and better on the environment) but leaves my sweaters softer and they keep their shape better.

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  42. Do NOT put your cashmere in the dryer, it WILL shrink. Also there are sweater repair services- I know of at least 2 in NYC. Ask your tailor if he/she knows of one. It might be a little expensive, but depending on the size/location of the hole, it might be worth it.

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  43. Oh and another things... for most of my "dry clean" items I usually air them out after wearing them for a day (mostly hanging over my banister). That way I can get a few wears before they need to be cleaned again. Unless they are stained or obviously dirty this is a much better tacit for extending the life of my clothes.
    The one exception is whites; they will stain quickly (sweat, deodorant, perfume) if they are not cleaned after wearing

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  44. I handwash all my cashmere with woolite. They come out WAY softer and sometimes I think they even look cleaner than when they are drycleaned. I just iron, remove the pilling and voila!

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  45. My mother owns a dry cleaner and I get free dry cleaning. That being said, I do not send my merino chiffon rosette cardigan to the cleaners.

    My mom told me that the best thing to do is fill a bathroom sink with cold to lukewarm water and Woolite or whatever liquid cleaner works best for you. Lay the sweater on top of the water. It will eventually become submerged. Let the sweater soak for at least an hour or longer. Gently rinse the sweater- no wringing- by running cold/ lukewarm water over it. Lay the sweater flat on a towel and place another towel on top of it. Press the excess moister out. Do not roll the sweater in the towel, it can ruin the shape. After you have allowed the towel to absorb some of the moisture you can gently shape the sweater if need be. Allow the sweater air dry flat. This process can be a pain the a** but it is worth it if you want to preserve your sweaters.

    If you have a stubborn stain you can use Ivory soap. Ivory soap is great b/c it has a neutral ph. Wet the stained garment with cold water. Rub a bar of Ivory soap directly into the stain, then rinse. If that doesn’t remove the stain, rub Ivory soap on the stain again, and then soak the fabric for 30 minutes or so in cold water with a bit of powdered detergent dissolved in it. Rinse.

    For oil and grease you can sprinkle some cornstarch or baking soda on the stain, then place the garment, stain side down, on a large rag on top of an ironing board. Iron with a hot iron on the wrong side of the stain. Most oil and grease stains will come right out. This trick works only for oil and grease, which need heat to dissolve.

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  46. I had the same problem with my merino rosette cami--it was falling apart, it seemed, before I even wore it, and just got worse. I used Dryel on it, and it doesn't seem any worse than that--but I'm kind of ticked at J. Crew. Didn't they know the flowers were going to unravel? Nothing is sealing them. Do they just not care?

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  47. I use the Method for baby in my HE washer and use the hand wash setting for all of my J. Crew sweaters. Then I let the sweaters air dry, never put in the dryer.
    I haven't had any problems with shrinkage or anything else. Works great!

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  48. The instructions from Candid Engineer and Emily are excellent. It is what I used to do with all my sweaters and they all came out fine. This winter, though, we finally got a front-loading washer so I now wash my silk camis (Elizabeth and Victoria), rose tees (from October) and beaded/embellished tees in the washer (hand wash cycle) and line dry.
    With sweaters there is more effort involved. Lay them down on the floor and shape them. Measure the length, width and sleeve length/width to be used as reference to reshape after wash. Fold in half, put in a mesh bag and then into the washer. I then use either wool or hand wash cycle. (they are actually pretty similar) After it is done, remove them right away and place on a towel that is already laid down on the floor. Reshape. This is probably the most important step to prevent shrinkage or change of shape. Leave the sweater and towel on the floor for a few hours to take some moisture out (so the moisture does not weight the sweater down and change the shape of it)then line dry. This works fairly well on all my cashmere, merino, mixed wool and cotton sweaters. hth

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  49. I have a hand wash setting on my washing machine and have been using it for years to wash merino, cashmere and wool blend sweaters.
    Then air drying them.

    However I recently discovered that it also compensates for a heavy load, which makes it aggitate harder. This is what usually causes any kind of shrinkage.

    I also had a problem with holes in my cashmere sweaters. When the machine was spinning dry it was sucking the fabric into the holes of the drum. Leaving tiny pindot holes.

    I have solved all of these problems with sweater laundry bags. I found a great deal on them online at Organized Living.
    So far the bags have kept my sweaters from getting all fuzzy in the wash, there has been no shrinkage, and absolutely no holes.

    If your still afraid of putting any in the machine, hand washing in cold has never injurred or shrunk any sweater I've ever washed.

    Hope any of this helps.

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  50. i have to second the wool/cashmere shampoo from the laundress! that stuff is great!

    my parents used to own a dry cleaner too and i use emily's method (@ 11:12am) for all of my wool and cashmere.

    instead of a clothes shaver or a sweater stone, i use a plain disposable shaving razor for pills - but you have to be careful! don't use it on cable knit and don't use it on featherweight sweaters.

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  51. I don't have any pure cashmere from JCrew, but my Cambridge Wool/Cashmere sweaters come out just fine when I hand wash them with cold water. I put them in my sink with cold water and woolite, let them submerge, and agitate them around a little. I dry them on a rack. They are definetly less fragile then you would expect. They dont shrink or anything.

    Has anyone washed the chiffon pleated cardigan?? Does this hand wash well? I am apprehensive about dry cleaning it because the buttons are so nice.
    Thanks!

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  52. I dry clean everything. Yet I did toss a dream turtleneck in the wash on gentle and shrunk it to about toddler size. Lesson learned. :)

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  53. What's this I've heard about Woolite not being best for wool and cashmere, by the way? It's not mentioned in this discussion but it's something I've heard before.

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  54. I second the person who said BR sweaters are more robust. J.Crew sweaters are prettier but they get fuzzy and worn out so easily, especially if the material is of the thin kind. I throw my sweaters in the washer on a delicate cold cycle in one of those laundry mesh bags and then dry them flat. No problems so far...

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  55. I have washed all my merino wool sweaters (including the Tartine)in my front loading washer in the ultra hand wash cycle and have not had a problem.

    The only time a ruined a wool item was when I did not wash it by itself. I put a couple of wool sweaters in cold/delicate and they all shrunk. I don't know if it's because they were put together but they ended up being unwearable.

    Now, I just do one at a time and have not had a problem.

    Thanks for all the stone, comb and soap suggestions!

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  56. OK, so apparently J.Crew has a lot of anal customers.

    I am one too, so I love it.

    Thank you all for the wonderful advice (especially Emily at 11:12).

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  57. I have six tartine cardis and I wash all of them in my (old, top-loading!) washing machine, on the gentle cycle, with cold water and Woolite. They are perfect. :)

    I NEVER put sweaters in the dryer. Lay flat on a towel/blot to dry. I do this with my dream/Cambridge/other J.Crew sweaters and even convinced my boyfriend to let me wash an outrageously over-priced $400 RL cardigan of his this way-- he said that after washing, it looked and felt better than when it was new.

    The only things from J.Crew which I dryclean are my dresses, especially because most of mine are made out of silk or are of the "Special Occasion" variety. I wash my beach dresses in, you guessed it, Woolite, cold water, gentle cycle, hang dry.

    I agree with other posters about dry cleaning ruining or shortening the life of my cashmere/sweaters. I don't dry clean anything unless I absolutely have to. Why pay exorbitant prices, only to be told later that "we're not responsible" when they mangle delicate trim, melt beading or rip off buttons? So frustrating!

    I used to use Dryel, but I'm kind of germ-phobic, and I couldn't get over the idea that my clothes weren't really clean-- just quite scented. HTH!

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  58. Amelia- if you live in a large enough city, you can find green dry cleaners that don't use the same harsh chemicals as mainstream dry cleaners. i used to hate the smell also, and would air out my clothes for a few days before taking them into my house, but now i go to an all natural dry cleaner. i love it! just a thought.

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  59. Does anyone remember the names of all the "Party Cardis" the ones with the beady chiffon around the neck and petal things down the front of the other? Also the one with the rosettes around the side of the neck area? I have all 3 and now I'm like Hmmmmm? I am worried about all the chiffon trim pieces. What are the thought on these things? Thanks.

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  60. I mean "thoughts" :)

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  61. For cardigans like the tartine & lea, do you fold them or hang them (to store them)?

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  62. Honestly, woolite on a cold, gentle rinse has never done me wrong! I've washed Cashmere, wool and silks this way... and its virtually free :)

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  63. Great post Alexis and thanks everyone for all the really great advice. Alexis, any chance that you could provide a permanent link to this thread on the side bar?

    Another good topic would be people maintain and preserve their JC leather products--handbags, boots and shoes.

    lucegirl: Either your dry-cleaner should eat the cost of the sweater or JC should. You sent the garment for cleaning according to manufacturer's instructions. That said, others have complained about the petals on the Lili fraying. Its too bad, its such a pretty sweater.

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  64. Cinn, take your sweater to a knitting shop if there's one in your area. They'll usually charge about $15-20 and can do it in a few days.

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  65. Re Sweater Repairs: You can find people who do this but get recommendations. I took a JC cashmere cardi to a dry-cleaner/garment repair shop that advertised "invisible" sweater re-weaving. I about keeled over when I got my sweater back--the repair looked worse than the hole had! I couldn't believe they wanted to charge me!!

    When I complained about the repair to my tailor--a wonderful Greek woman who can tailor anything--she shook her head and told me to bring it to her. She re-did the repair and now you have to look really hard to find where the repair was made. Amazing! Even better, her sweater repairs are less than $10.

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  66. cinn -- BR sweaters always come with extra thread, so if you saved that, you could try to sew it together yourself or take it to a tailor/weaver who can repair it for you.

    thanks everyone for sharing your experience about the Tartine!! I am so excited that it can survive handwashing, since I hate dry cleaning (bad for the environment and for my wallet!)

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  67. question- what about wool blazers? has anyone tried putting them in the washing machine? it would just be nice to avoid more of the time and money hassle of dry cleaning....thanks!
    -Teresa

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  68. Is there a way to hand-wash silk tricotine without ruining the shine?

    I've tried 2 cleaners & they have both ruined my Sophia dresses- they went all dull. I'd rather try to clean my silk dresses myself...any advice is very welcome.

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  69. "Mrs. John Murphy" The "Soak" product I mentioned is designed for wool & other natural fibers. I first found out about it at my local knitting store as it was developed by knitters.
    Not sure about Woolite not being good for wool but I'm not crazy about the scent.
    Also, since I have an old top loading washing machine I only hand wash my delicates to prevent damage and shrinking.

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  70. anon @ 12:25

    Let me know when you find out as I have just purchased a Sophia from a fellow JCA (THANKS!) and I want to be aware of how to launder it.

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  72. Any way to save a sweater that I shrank ? Saw Dry Clean Only too late.

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  77. This post is very useful to us thanks for sharing.

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