Should You Wash Spot Clean Only Fabrics Or Clothes? (Explained)

Clothes or fabrics that are labeled as “spot clean only” should not be dry cleaned, wet cleaned, hand washed, machine washed, or restored in any way that makes the entire fabric wet or soaked in detergent solution.

Key Takeaways

  • “Spot clean only” Fabrics are not meant to be washed in the same way as regular fabrics.
  • It’s recommended to either use a mild detergent diluted in water or a suitable stain remover to clean your “spot clean only” fabrics.
  • Read the care label carefully before washing any fabrics, as certain spot-clean-only items may require special care even after spot cleaning.

In this article, you will learn what spot cleaning means, whether Is it safe to wash spot-clean labeled garments and how to spot clean dirt and stains safely and effectively.

Table Of Content

Spot clean only meaning

Spot cleaning is the process of removing dirt, stains, and smudges by using a dampened cloth and cleaning solution or agent, followed by wiping with a dry cloth. With spot cleaning, you treat the specific areas of the fabric with either a stain remover or mild detergent diluted in water.

In most cases, “spot clean only” care labels are seen on high-end designer fabrics that are either hand-made, delicate, or made of fine fabrics and dyes.

So, in a nutshell, spot cleaning means cleaning the specific areas of the fabric without wetting or affecting the entire fabric.

What happens if you wash something that is spot clean only?

“Spot clean only” fabrics suffer from poor dye retention during washing. This means that the color of the fabric will fade faster than normal if you decide to wash them.

Even gentle cleaning or handwashing will likely remove the dye from the fabric.

So, we need to be a little smart here as the instructions on the care label are so obvious.

The main purpose of the “spot clean only” label is to inform the consumer that the garment in question is unsafe to be washed in a washing machine or even by hand.

Instead, they must be cleaned by hand using a spot cleaning solution, mild detergent diluted in water, or steam, and finally, use the air drying method to dry the fabric.

How do you use spot-clean detergent?

There are mainly two methods to spot clean the fabric.

  • Wet cleaning
  • Dry Cleaning

Detergents for wet cleaning if different as compared to detergents used for dry cleaning.

Therefore, the method used to clean the fabric will be completely different for each type of detergent.

Let’s take a quick look at both approaches to spot cleaning.

Spot Wet Cleaning at home

Step 1: Take a bowl of cold water and add one teaspoon of mild liquid detergent to it. 

Step 2: Mix the solution well so that it dilutes.

Step 3: Now, dip the soft microfiber cloth or soft brush into the solution and start working on the stain. Make sure to work from the outer border toward the center to avoid spreading the stain.

Step 4: Dry the area with a paper towel after blotting or scrubbing the stain gently.

Spot dry cleaning at home

In order to spot-dry clean a stain at home, you need to have the dry cleaning solution handy.

For this, you can simply use a spot dry cleaning stick or a liquid dry cleaning spray bottle.

Spot dry cleaning stick is considered to be highly effective. However, if you don’t find one at your local store or online platform, you can simply use a spray bottle.

Instructions to Spot Dry Clean at home

Step 1: Blot the spots (Dampen the Affected Area)

No matter how good the dry cleaning solution is, it may not be able to effectively remove the stains from the fabric if the affected areas are not properly blotted.

This is because stains caused due to coffee, sugar, or milk are very adamant and may remain for a long time if not treated properly.

So, blot the affected areas with a wet cloth and leave them to rest for a few minutes.

Step 2: Apply the Dry cleaning stick or spray

The next step is to apply the dry cleaning stick or spray on the stain and wait for approx. 3 minutes.

Step 3: Brush off or wipe the area

The next step is to brush off the area if you have used a dry cleaning stick. If you have used a spray then you can a damp cloth to brush off the area.

Step 4: Air it off

Let the affected area dry for a few minutes and allow it to air dry.

This step is important as it eliminates the unwanted odor post dry cleaning.

Final Thoughts

Spot cleaning not only saves the manual effort of washing entire clothes but also limits the wear and tear caused by the washing process.

You need not wash the whole set of clothes all the time if they can be spot treated.

However, just be careful with the method that you choose in order to spot clean i.e. dry spot cleaning or wet spot cleaning.

Selecting the wrong detergent type for spot cleaning can damage your clothes.

Lastly, “spot clean only” labeled clothes should never be washed.

Hemant Sarkar is a seasoned techie with a diploma in computer science and an impressive track record of over 15 years in dealing with speakers, kitchen appliances, and various home appliance-related issues. He is widely recognized for his exceptional expertise in repairing dryers and washing machines from all major brands. In addition to his appliance repair prowess, Hemant maintains engaging blogs on topics related to music and speakers. For any inquiries or assistance regarding appliances or tech-related matters, you can reach out to him at: hemant (at)