CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – For years I've seen those at home dry cleaning kits at the grocery store. Most kits will run you about 10 dollars. They have enough supplies for up to six washes with four garments per load.
I wanted to first get the opinion of local dry cleaners. I went to American Dry Cleaning on North Graham Street in Charlotte. American is the longest continually operating dry cleaners in the city. Larry Hill owns American. The business has been family owned since it opened in 1921. Hill tells me that some of the first customers drove up to the business in horse and buggy. While the operation has the latest hi-tech equipment they also boast one of a few sheet pressers, in operation longer than the owner has been alive.
I asked Hill what he thought of the 'at home dry cleaning' kits. He said they do serve a purpose, "I think they are good for freshening up your clothing, for removing odors, such as smoke and perspiration."
When I pointed out that one brand now claims to include the 'dry cleaners secret' Hill found that claim misleading, "It is not dry cleaning at home. True dry cleaning is spot removal, pressing, and finishing. And all those things are not done with this."
I recently had a run-in with a waitress and my favorite red blouse bore the brunt of my collision. There were several spots that admittedly had some time to set in, but I was determined to first try the at home kid. I followed the instructions, blotting with the cleaning sheet provided, put it in the dryer for 20 minutes on medium heat. I was a little disappointed when the process was done. The spots remained. In fairness to the manufacturer, they recommend you get on your stains as quickly as possible.
Even Larry Hill said we should never let stains set in. "It's always best to get your garment right to the dry cleaner before it sets in," Hill said.
I tried the Dryel brand kit, which uses the bag and a cleaning sheet. I found the system did exactly what Hill said it would do, freshened up my clothing.
If you really need to cut back on dry cleaning expenses, the at home kits will certainly remove odors and help get out some wrinkles. But I found, when you have a stubborn stain, it's best to leave removal in the hands of professionals. Clothing isn't cheap, a visit to the dry cleaner is better than buying a new blouse!