Your Weekend Project: Stop Dry Cleaning and Start Handwashing

Welcome to Your Weekend Project, featuring how-tos and ideas from our archives for an organized and inspired home.

It only takes a few dry cleanings to notice the chemical film on your favorite garments and the degradation of the fibers.

I, for one, have lost a few good sweaters to years of overzealous dry cleaning, during which I turned a blind eye to perchloroethylene, one of many solvents used in the process. Perchloroethylene is labeled carcinogenic to humans by the EPA, and its disposal must be handled as hazardous waste. In fact, the solvent will be illegal in California by 2023, but we’re not quite there yet. Until then, we’re finding a cleaner way to wash and preserve clothing with these 10 delicate fabric care solutions (all in good-looking packages).

N.B.: For more on maintaining a wardrobe over a lifetime, have a look at Expert Advice: 5 Ways to Make Your Clothes Last Longer.

Maison Francis Kurkdjian Paris Detergent
Above: Perfume company Maison Francis Kurkdjian makes detergents for both dark and light fabrics—Aqua Universalis Laundry Wash for Black/Dark and White/Bright ($45 each)—as well as Fabric Softener ($45), all available at Saks Fifth Avenue.
Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner
Above: If you haven’t heard the story of Emanuel Bronner, the documentary, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox is worth a watch. Bronner came from a German soap-making family and immigrated to the US in 1929 before founding his own soap company, Dr. Bronner’s. The line blends pure organic ingredients with a slightly religious slant (carried out as text written on the outside of the bottle). Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds are an all-purpose liquid cleaner intended for use on laundry, dishes, floors, and more; $8.99 for the 16-ounce size.
Tangent Garment Care Wash
Above: Recently founded Swedish company Tangent Garment Care is devoted entirely to natural laundry care products. Its Textile Shampoo, shown here, is made with coconut and orange extracts. Contact Tangent Garment Care for buying information. Additionally, they carry a Denim Wash and Peach Oil Fabric Softener; €12 each. For more, see our post: Natural Laundry Potions from Sweden.
L:A Bruket Detergent for Cashmere and Cotton
Above: From Swedish company L:A Bruket, No. 96 Detergent for Cotton and Denim has a patchouli and lavender scent, and No. 97 Detergent for Wool and Cashmere has a sandalwood fragrance. Both are biodegradable detergents made from either cottonseed oil or lanolin; $38 each at Need Supply.
Murchison Hume Garment Groom
Above: Our go-to line of a household cleaners here at Remodelista is from Australian company Murchison-Hume. Their gentle alternative to dry cleaning is the Garment Groom Stain Remover & Clothes Refresher. Eco-friendly and with a white grapefruit scent, the spray is $13.
Common Good Laundry Detergent in Lavender
Above: The Common Good Laundry Detergent—available in lavender, bergamot, and unscented—is good for up to 48 high-efficiency wash loads; it’s plant-based and 100 percent biodegradable. The detergent is $16.99 for a 32-oz bottle from Common Good, and the bottle is refillable at any of the many retail locations found on the company’s site.
Wendyl Nissen Laundry Powder
Above: Based in Auckland, New Zealand, Wendyl Nissen has created a cleaning product line using only essential, natural ingredients. Above L: The Patchouli Laundry Powder is made from castile soap, patchouli, ylang-ylang, and frankincense essential oils; $7.96 NZD for a 500g bag. Above R: The Mild Baby Laundry Powder is made from Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild castile soap, baking soda, and washing soda; $7.96 NZD for a 500g bag. For more on the products, see our post: Wendyl Nissen’s “No Nasty Chemicals” Philosophy.
Le Labo and The Laundress Santal Garment Wash
Above: Founded by two graduates of Cornell University’s Fiber Science, Textile, and Apparel Management and Design program, The Laundress is a company that takes garment care very seriously. And for the Le Labo devotee, The Laundress + Le Labo Santal 33 Signature Detergent is made without harmful additives or toxins; $45 for a 475ml bottle at Net-a-Porter. You can also get the detergent in their Rose 31 scent for the same price.
Parachute Home Laundry Detergent
Above: Bedding company Parachute makes a plant-based, biodegradable Laundry Detergent with pure essential oils; $9 per bottle at Parachute.
 Formulated without the use of phosphates, volatile organic solvents, and any toxic acids or nonylphenols, Simply Clean’s Pure Soap Flakes are for laundering and handwashing delicate fabrics; $14.49 CAD from
Above: Formulated without the use of phosphates, volatile organic solvents, and any toxic acids or nonylphenols, Simply Clean’s Pure Soap Flakes are for laundering and handwashing delicate fabrics; $14.49 CAD from

N.B.: This post is an update; the original story ran on Remodelista on April 22, 2014.

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