This fabulous-smelling detergent is literally life-changing.

Oleh_photographer/Getty Images

In the words of the theme song to Cheers, “Making your way in the world today, takes everything you’ve got.” And, if you’re a woman with a comprehensive wardrobe, it takes everything you’ve got in your wallet just to keep it clean, let alone smelling relatively fresh.

If you’ve been blindly obeying the “dry clean” command on your clothing labels, prepare to be liberated. From silk to polyester blends, the hieroglyphic codes on garment labels can be intimidating, and if you’ve committed a serious amount of cash to a particular piece, it doesn’t seem worth deviating from the instructions. I too felt this way, and would take a monthly haul of my office attire down to my local dry cleaners.

With each receipt, I was reminded how I do not occupy the kind of tax bracket that allows for these kind of fees. Like Matt Damon in front of the chalkboard in Good Will Hunting, I would calculate the future dry cleaning costs on top of the price tag of a particular dress I liked, and suddenly it didn’t seem that cute.

Then I found The Laundress’ Delicates Soap, and, to be frank, it came about as close to changing my life as a laundry detergent can. It’s not an exaggeration to say that this one $18 bottle has saved me hundreds on dry cleaning charges.

While I sound like a conspiracy theorist when I say this, you don't really have to dry clean almost any of the items that say you should. But before you write me off as a dry cleaning truther, hear me out.

WATCH: Bed Linen Hacks

 

Aside from a couple fancy, formal dresses and one raw silk number, I have a typical wardrobe that consists of pieces made from crepe, silk, cotton blends, polyester, nylon—the usual suspects—plus some vintage treasures. I have washed them all with The Laundress’ soap and had zero issues. In fact, this soap, which has a very faint herbal-citrus scent, removes the odors that dry cleaners don’t, which makes it a must-have for me.

Another bonus: you don’t have to worry about the toxins and waste associated with dry cleaning either.

How is this possible? It’s not sorcery. I just fill up a medium sized bucket in my sink with cold water (Cold water prevents shrinking.) and add the prescribed amount of soap according the bottle label. Then I do a quick hand wash of each item (or a group if they’re the same color family), concentrating on arm holes and stains if they need extra attention. After rinsing, I lay the piece on a bath towel, roll it up like a burrito, press out the water, and hang to dry.

Most of my clothes dry wrinkle-free, but if they need some pressing, I get out my handy Joy Manango My Little Steamer and after a few passes, boom, it’s ready to go. Sure, the hand-washing and drying takes some effort, but even with several items, it’s still a fraction of the time it took to drive to and from the cleaners plus the time waiting in between. And since you have soap at the ready, you can quickly clean one piece if you need it short-notice. I’ve even taken the bottle on a road trip when I knew I needed to wear the same silk dress multiple times.

Yes, there are some items you still have to dry clean, like a sequin gown or anything with detailing that could be damaged with water. And it’s a good idea to wash light-colored or brightly-colored items on their own. But even on garments I thought I was taking a gamble hand-washing, I’ve come out a winner—especially when it comes to my checking account.