The 4 Things You Should Always Do After Bringing Clothes Back from the Dry Cleaner

published Jan 10, 2022
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You’ve just picked up a handful of items from your local dry cleaner. Whether it’s a stack of sweaters, your winter coats, or a precious item like a beaded jacket or formal gown, you might be wondering: now what? Can you just pop the items in the closet and go, or should you take further steps to ensure your treasured items stay pristine?

Here’s what you should do immediately after a dry cleaner run to protect your garments, reduce waste, and keep your items looking their best.

Remove the plastic bags.

Contrary to popular belief, the plastic garment bags you get at the dry cleaner aren’t the best storage option for your clothes. They’re generally used to help protect your items on the journey from the dry cleaner to your home — not to be used as a permanent storage option. Keeping your clothes in those bags too long can even cause yellowing and other damage, so make it a habit to strip off the plastic bags as soon as you get home.

Of course, the last thing you want to do is create more plastic waste. While some cleaners use biodegradable or compostable bags, plastic is still the norm. If you have plastic bag recycling available in your area, set the bags aside to drop them off in the future. If not, consider reusing them in creative ways, including for messy home projects, as bathroom trash bags, as insulation in window or door cracks, or to wrap fragile items before boxing them away.

If your items do need to be protected, opt for a cloth garment bag instead; it’s more breathable but will still keep your items safe from dust, pests, smells, and more. 

Reuse or bring the hangers back.

Wire hangers aren’t everyone’s cup of tea; they’re great to transport clothes home, but they’re not necessarily strong enough to hold heavy items. If you won’t use them for your clothes, keep a few tucked away for emergencies like clogged drains, then get rid of the rest — but don’t just toss ’em in the trash! 

If the hangers are in good shape, see if the dry cleaner wants them back or contact local thrift stores or shelters to see if they could use them. Your local Buy Nothing group can be a great resource too; your neighbors may have use for your cast-off hangers, therefore keeping them out of the trash.

Hang or fold things properly.

You spent your hard-earned cash on having your items dry cleaned, so take the next step to protect that investment by hanging or folding your clothes properly. Sweaters and knitwear items should be folded to keep them from stretching. Velvet hangers can keep silky, slippery, or fragile items from sliding off onto the floor when you’re browsing through the closet, and wooden suit hangers are sturdy enough to hold heavy items while keeping them pressed and precise. Take the extra time to neatly fold and hang your clothes after your dry cleaner run. Future you will be thankful you did.

Prep items for storage.

If you took items to the dry cleaner in order to prepare them for long-term storage, it’s worth doing a little extra legwork to further protect them. Cedar blocks or sprays are helpful for keeping moths and other hungry pests away from your treasured garments, not to mention keeping them smelling fresh, so tuck a few into your storage bins before you store them in the basement or attic.