Six ways to avoid getting taken to the cleaners.
Apply makeup, hair spray, and perfume before getting dressed. They can all stain fabrics. Allow these products to set for at least five minutes before pulling on your clothes.
Abate odors at home. If your sweaters are a bit stale (but not stained), use heat-activated dryer sheets, such as Dry Cleaner’s Secret ($19.50, amazon.com), to freshen them up.
Spot-clean. If you get a small stain, treat it immediately with a product like OxiClean Spray-A-Way ($5, oxiclean.com) and save yourself an emergency trip.
Check your local newspaper for coupons and deals. Cleaners generally offer discounts (10 to 33 percent off) in the spring and fall.
Practice moderation. Overcleaning can decrease clothing’s longevity, so dry-clean only when necessary. You might get away with cleaning a wool suit once or twice a year, and wool sweaters and skirts may be worn up to six times before you need to send them out.