Easy Tips to Cut Dry Cleaning Bills and Still Look Great

Did your last dry cleaning bill leave you gasping with outrage and your wallet feeling light? In this economy, Americans are finding creative ways to save money on many modern conveniences. Why should you still be paying through the nose to have your clothes cared for and pressed by a professional?

The answer, says Barbara Zagnoni, is that you shouldn’t. Zagnoni is an ironing expert and the “Queen of Steam” for Rowenta, makers of high-performance irons and steamers. By taking care of your clothes at home — including pressing them — you can take a bite out of the $8 billion-a-year dry cleaning industry and still look great, she advises.

“Americans tend to wear an item just once then send it to the cleaner when it’s just a bit rumpled,” says Zagnoni. “There’s a more cost-effective alternative. You can prolong the life of your wardrobe, be environmentally friendly and save hundreds of dollars each year by taking care of garments at home.”

And taking over the dry cleaners’ job doesn’t have to require hours of ironing. With a little planning and efficient ironing tools, pressing and preserving your clothes can be quick and painless. Zagnoni advises you to start out with a high-performance iron or steamer.

“Whether you’re restoring a pile of disheveled suits and wrinkled dress shirts or smoothing your beaded and sequined silk top, a top-notch tool will make the job easier,” she says. “Yes, you’ll spend a little bit more on the initial investment to buy a good product, but you’ll quickly recoup the cost after eliminating just a few months of dry cleaning bills.”

Commit a block of time each week to garment care, including ironing, and it’s easy to look polished all week long without a costly trip to the dry cleaners. Your weekly routine should include:

* Inspecting clothes for loose or dangling threads.
* Pre-treating stains so that they don’t become set into clothes before laundry day.
* Brush or de-lint clothes before you iron and steam to get the most out of your session.

Many shirts and trousers get taken to the cleaners because people think they’re hard to press properly. But doing the job yourself at home can extend the life of your garments by sparing them from the dry cleaners’ harsh chemical processes. Here are simple steps for pressing a shirt and trousers:

For shirts:
* Iron the underside of the collar from the center out to avoid creasing. Flip and repeat on the other side of the collar.

* Hook one shoulder over the round tip of the ironing board and press the yoke (where the collar meets the shoulder), moving to the center of the back. Repeat with the other shoulder.

* Lay one sleeve flat, buttons or cuff link holes facing up. Iron the inside of the cuff. Flip it over and iron the outside. Iron the entire sleeve, starting on the button side. Repeat the process with the other sleeve.

* Iron the body, starting with the front panels. Be careful to iron between buttons and not over them, which can cause them to break. Use an iron with a precision tip, like Rowenta’s Advancer, to avoid running over buttons.

* Flip the shirt and iron the back panel. Touch up the collar when done and hang immediately.

To press pants:

* Turn inside out and iron the pockets.

* Turn right-side out, hook the waistband over the round tip of the ironing board and press the waist. Rotate the slacks around the board as you iron.

* Place one leg on top of the other and align the seams. Fold the top leg back. Press the inside of the bottom leg, moving from the bottom up to the crotch. Flip and iron the outside of the leg. Repeat the process for the other leg.

* If your slacks don’t have creases, iron near the leg’s outer edge but not over it. To create a crease along the front of the slacks, place the iron on the edge of the pant leg and direct a burst of steam and then lift the iron. Repeat this pattern down the pant leg until a crease is set.

Business travelers often need to press shirts and slacks when they’re on the road. Hotel ironing charges can add up quickly and hotel room irons are notoriously poor performers. Pack your own travel iron for business trips. Opt for a high-performance, highly portable product like Rowenta’s First Class Travel Iron.

Another easy option is to invest in a garment steamer, like Rowenta’s Precision Valet. The steamer heats up in just 60 seconds and can easily handle slacks, suits and delicates. You can even use it to steam wrinkles out of drapes and upholstered furniture.

Perfecting your in-home garment care and ironing techniques can save you hundreds of dollars each year. Visit www.RowentaUSA.com to learn more.