I always recommend you take your items to the drycleaner!
Why? 2 reasons: 1) Cleaning items always involves (at least a small) risk. And a trusted drycleaner has the experience and training to minimize these risks - and - worse case scenario - if something were to go wrong, a reputable drycleaner should help resolve any issues. and 2) How much is your time worth?
Many items people believe are dryclean only, really are not! Cashmere and many silks hand wash beautifully! That said - here are the solutions to the most common issues in hand wash!
RULE #1: NEVER HAND WASH AN ITEM WHEN THE LABEL READS "Dryclean Only" or "Do Not Wash!" They mean it! And beware the trim and other add-ons. Often a label will read . . . excluding trim (watch for this with leather trim!). I recommend not buying garments with labels like that - it means there is no way to clean that garment!
1) Stains: When you clean with water, BEWARE! If there are stains, and you do not remove them, they are likely set for life!
2) Pilling: Unfortunately, the price you pay for a sweater and whether or not it will pill are unrelated. Expensive garments are often made from poor quality yarn fibers that break easily. You can reduce pilling by turning it inside out before dipping - dry flat. A razor or shaver can do wonders. I do not recommend the stone or tape, both of which can make the problem worse.
3) Wrinkling: Hard wrinkles are normally created in the dryer. Do not overdry clothes - they should be slightly damp when they come out of the dryer AND do not overload the dryer OR your washer! Line drying can cause the same issue - the sun can overdry and/or bleach your clothes. Often these wrinkles become permanent! Wrinkles should be removed promptly - especially in knits - Once set they may become permanent.
4) Color Fading: Natural fibers do not hold color! That is why jeans fade so easily. Silk is also a natural fiber. Today's polyesters are amazing, and I would recommend that if you prefer black or navy shirts, to consider one of the new blended materials. Cold water and light drying (see above) are also recommend!
5) Color Bleeding: This applies to both trims and black (red or any bright color) and white prints. The only way to be sure is to test. And then you still can't be sure! Dyes are supposed to be fixed by the manufacturer - but often this doesn't happen. You can fix the color by soaking it a color fixative, but it is not always possible. I recommend consumers take item that fails back to where you bought it - I never understand why people forgive retailers for selling non-cleanable items. If more people held clothing manufactures accountable - perhaps the problem would lessen.. . . . .
Whoops - guess cleaning is in my blood, and I can't help having a (strong) opinion on the matter!