Though dry-cleaning takes some of your laundry off your hands, no one likes getting the bill at the end, especially when you already spent quite a bit on the clothes themselves (you have to build up your spring wardrobe, after all). According to experts, there are some “dry-clean only” fabrics that actually can be washed at home, either by hand or by machine, despite what the labels say. Almost any delicate fabric can be washable if you use the right supplies and the appropriately gentle machine cycle, so think twice before shipping all items that are remotely delicate off to the dry cleaner. Fabric experts and The Laundress co-founders Gwen Whiting and Lindsey Boyd give us the rundown on DIY washing many pieces of your laundry in order to save a bundle in the end.

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1. You can hand-wash cashmere and don’t need to have it dry cleaned. Cashmere and wool sweaters and other products can be washed right in your bathroom. First, fill a wash basin or your sink with cool water and two cap-fulls of gentle, pH-neutral soap for delicate fabrics like The Laundress’ Cashmere and Wool Shampoo. Dunk the pieces in water and allow them to soak for 30 minutes. After that, rinse the fabric and gently press the water out of the fabric, without wringing the fabric tightly. To dry, either lay flat, or roll up the garment in a towel to remove excess water faster, and then lay out to dry.

2. Cashmere or wool can also go right in the washing machine. With a mesh laundry bag, you can toss your most delicate fabrics in with the rest of the items in your washer’s delicate cycle. The sweater or other garment should always be turned inside out — this prevents the fabric from pilling. Be sure to put the washer’s temperature on cold and the spin on low, so your garments don’t shrink. Then wash as usual, but instead of detergent, use the delicate cashmere and wool shampoo. Drying cashmere or wool pieces should be the same as in hand-washing them.

3. Perform a “water test” on silk pieces before washing. So typically, silk is totally fine to be hand-washed, but if it contains certain dyes, that may pose a problem when you wash the piece. It’s best to do a water test: Drip a few drops of water on a small area of the fabric to make sure the dye doesn’t run before pre-treating any stains and hand-washing.

4. Faux fur and fur-like material can be washed by hand. It’s important to first check and make sure you’re not dealing with real fur (but you’ll likely know if that’s the case). Faux fur can be hand-washed in a very similar manner to cashmere: by soaking it in a basin of cool water for 30 minutes, rinsing the fabric until the soap is removed from the garment, pressing the garment to remove water, and drying it flat.

5. Pieces made of faux leather can be cleaned at home in a non-toxic way. If your leather jacket, pants, or other garments are made from real leather, you must have them dry cleaned, but faux leather can be washed, turned inside out, in a mesh laundry bag for protection. Wash with a delicate-specific soap in your machine, on the delicate cycle, with cold water and the spin set to low. And never put it in the dryer; it’s best to line dry the piece so your garment can easily reshape afterward.

6. Deodorize fabrics with a vinegar mixture. Give your garment a bath of cool water and 1/4 cup scented vinegar (try this version) to get rid of any odors that won’t seem to go away. Soak it for 30 minutes in a basin before hand-washing.

7. Steam delicate items in between washes to keep them fresh. With certain items like a cashmere sweater, or faux leather skirt, you can get a couple of wears out of them before washing, but they may not stay as fresh as you’d like just hanging in your closet (If the piece is silk, try storing it in a breathable hanging cotton garment bag to keep the fabric in the best condition). To freshen a piece up before wearing it, use a handheld steamer to steam the fabric, and finish with a spritz of non-toxic fabric spray — that’ll give it that just-washed scent without actually having washed the item.

RELATED: 7 Essential Hacks for Making Laundry a Breeze When You’re Traveling 

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