Dry cleaning. Let’s talk about it. First of all, I stopped going to the dry cleaner years ago. Not for environmental reasons, but because they are SO expensive. Paying $8 in NYC to have a shirt cleaned? No thanks.

Besides the cost of getting my clothes “professionally cleaned”, I began to learn about what they were actually being cleaned with. The truth is that the chemicals used by most dry cleaners can cause harm to air quality and to you. When I started making my own laundry detergent, I tested it out on my delicates and to my complete surprise, it totally worked. I now wash wool, cashmere, soft cotton, silk, linen and other delicates by hand in my sink using my laundry detergent from The Simply Co.

Many dry cleaners use perchloroethylene – aka perc. Perc is a volatile organic compound aka VOC. When you get a dry-cleaning bag, most likely when you open it up it will smell a bit sweet. That is perc. The gasses from perc can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat and gasses have been said to exacerbate asthma.

My advice… stay away from the dry cleaners except for professional repairs, steams, and pressing (if they are all chemical free) and wash your own clothing by hand. For me I hand wash and let the item dry flat on a towel and then iron or steam as necessary. Here’s a video on how I do it.

See below to buy the Simply Co. detergent, and one of our tote bags:



  1. I live in Mexico, where most houses and even apartments have a "lavadero" (like a fixed cement washboard), with the whole area designed to make it easier to wash your clothes. It wastes much less water, and I love that I can keep my already small apartment a little more spacious without a washer.

  2. Hi, can you teach how to wash stains ? I live in Brazil, here things like dry cleaning there is only in big center of the country, and is soooooo expensive. Every house or apartment have one room just for wash, dry…. clothes, also is every rare someone have a dryer.

  3. Love this tutorial! just wanted to ask if you wash all of your clothes this way, or if you can use the detergent in your washing machine.

    Thanks! Love your blog! I'm making little changes in my life every day thanks to you!

  4. I always wondered about that. I cloth diaper, and the advice that we're given is to not use homemade soap in the washing machine. I guess the washing machine uses enzymes/chemicals in the detergent to pull the dirty out of clothes, suspend it in the water, then rinse it out. Homemade soaps need the actual scrubbing of cloths to help clean them? So, it's cool that you wash your clothes by hand, cause according to my cloth diaper training, that's the right way to use homemade laundry soap! 🙂

    1. And, I hope that didn't come out totally wrong, and that everyone gets the slight sarcasm in my use of "cloth diaper training", b/c obviously, it's not much of formal training at all. 🙂 Anyways, I love what you do, Lauren! Keep up the good work!

  5. We live at an ecovillage, and water is a very precious resource. My house doesn't have kitchen or bathroom, so I know how hard it is to get things done. Awesome article!

  6. This sounds great; thanks so much for sharing and for posting how-to video on it. I'm looking to use fewer chemicals and fewer items that come in plastic containers in my home, AND I'm almost out of my jug of Woolite–so finding the info about this product on your blog is perfect timing for me! Plus, I love a fresh lavender scent, so that's just a bonus! Think I might have to give it a try. Thanks again! I love your blog.

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