life skills from mom

Photo: Thinkstock

2 of 5
Avoiding Anything with a Dry-Clean-Only Tag
We've all been burned by a perfect dress that wound up costing a fortune in dry-cleaning bills. But did you know that you don't always have to listen to those washing-instruction tags? Lindsey Boyd, one of the founders of and a graduate of Cornell University's Fiber Science, Textile and Apparel Management and Design program, says, "About 90 percent of clothes that say 'dry-clean only' can really be hand-washed."

Natural fabrics, in particular, says Boyd, respond well to hand-washing. Since so many clothes are made from fabric blends, when reading the labels, defer to the fabric that makes up the highest percentage in the blend. So if a skirt is 90 percent cashmere and 10 percent silk, wash it according to instructions for cashmere.

For more guidance on when to skip the dry cleaning, print out the Can I Be Washed? chart on and post it in your laundry room.