Understanding What is Dry Cleaning and How Dry Cleaning Process Works

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Have you ever wondered why your favorite clothes say to “dry clean only” and does that mean you need to take them to a dry cleaner?

Have you been curious about how dry cleaning works and what makes this type of care unique for certain items of clothing?

If so, you’re not alone. I, too, had these questions swirling around in my mind until I decided to delve into the mysterious world of dry cleaning.

This blog post provides an understanding of the mysterious world of dry cleaning, including what it is and how the process works.

Read on to gain knowledge for you can make informed decisions when caring for your garments!

What Is Dry Cleaning?

Dry cleaning is cleaning clothes and fabrics using chemical solvents instead of water. 

The process works by removing dirt and stains from delicate fabrics without causing damage to them.

It is often used for clothing that cannot be washed in a washing machine or requires special care, such as wool, silk, or velvet

Dry cleaning also removes tough stains such as oil and grease, which can’t be removed with traditional washing methods.

The Origins and Evolution of Dry Cleaning

Did you know that dry cleaning has been around for centuries? It all started in ancient Rome, where people used special solvents to clean their clothes without water. Pretty cool, right?

But the dry cleaning process we use today really took off in the 19th century, thanks to a clever Frenchman named Jean-Baptiste Jolly.

He accidentally discovered that kerosene could remove stains, and that led him to open the world’s first dry cleaning shop in Paris in 1855. Talk about a lucky accident!

Back then, dry cleaners used kerosene, gasoline, and later perchloroethylene (perc) as solvents.

These chemicals were effective, but they had some downsides. They were flammable and had a strong smell. Not exactly ideal.

As time went on, people became more aware of the environmental impact and health risks associated with these solvents.

So, the dry cleaning industry started looking for greener alternatives. Wet cleaning, which uses water and eco-friendly detergents, became popular.

And some dry cleaners even started using liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) as a cleaner. How cool is that?

Today, dry cleaning is still an important way to keep our delicate clothes looking fresh and clean.

But now, more than ever, dry cleaners are focused on being eco-friendly and reducing their carbon footprint.

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How Does Dry Cleaning Work?

Dry cleaning is one of the most popular methods for washing clothes, and it is a much more efficient way to get your clothing clean than traditional laundry. 

Here is a step-by-step guide to explain how dry cleaning works:

Step 1: Inspection and tagging

When you drop off your clothing at the dry cleaners, each item will be thoroughly inspected and labelled. 

Additionally, they’ll assess for any lost buttons or tears, and will usually make minor repairs for you.

Step 2: Preparation

The dry cleaner will thoroughly assess your garment for any spots or stains that require extra attention. 

To ensure the best possible results, they may pre-treat these areas with special solvents and detergents before entering the dry cleaning machine. 

This process typically involves applying a vacuum or heat on affected sections to eliminate the stain more effectively during the regular cleaning process.

Step 3: Cleaning

The staff then places the garment in a dry cleaning machine, which uses a mixture of tetrachloroethylene (also known as perchloroethylene), water, and a variety of drying agents depending on the fabric type.

In the next phase of the cleaning process, clothes are coated with solvents in a perforated cylinder. 

The machine then rapidly spins them to remove any excess solvent and releases warm air that will quickly dry your garments. 

Afterwards, you’ll be left with clean and dry clothing!

Step 4: Finishing

Once your garment is removed from the dry cleaning machine, it undergoes a finishing process.

This process may involve hand steaming, pressing, and, if needed, passing through an anti-static electric field to minimize static cling.

Step 5: Packaging

The last step in the process is packaging up the garment so that you can pick it up from the dry cleaners when your order is ready!

Pros and Cons of Dry Cleaning

Here are some pros and cons of dry cleaning to consider before deciding if this method is right for your clothes.


  • Dry cleaning helps maintain the fabric integrity of delicate fabrics, such as silk and wool, that cannot be washed in a washing machine.
  • Dry cleaning is usually more effective at removing stubborn stains than regular washes at home.
  • Dry cleaners use special chemicals to extend the life of your garments so they look better for longer.
  • Some dry cleaners offer same day service if you need an item cleaned quickly.


  • Dry cleaning can be expensive due to specialist equipment and detergents used.
  • It may not completely remove all odours, meaning persistent smells may linger in the garment even after it has been dry cleaned.
  • Since many dry cleaning products contain solvents that could harm air quality, people with breathing difficulties may want to avoid using them altogether.
  • Its effectiveness varies from one type of fabric to another making it unsuitable for certain items such as 100% cotton garments or linen clothing made entirely from plant fibres.

What Types of Garments Can be Dry Cleaned?

Dry cleaning is a specialized method of cleaning that is suitable for a variety of garments. 

It is particularly ideal for delicate fabrics that require extra care, such as silk, satin, and lace

These materials are often prone to damage in traditional laundry methods, making dry cleaning the preferred option. 

Additionally, certain materials, like wool or cashmere, have a high risk of shrinking or losing color when washed in regular water-based methods. 

Dry cleaning ensures that these garments retain their shape, size, and vibrant colors. 

Moreover, specific clothing items such as suits and wedding gowns can greatly benefit from dry cleaning. 

This method not only helps in preserving their quality but also prolongs their lifespan. 

Suits, for instance, are often made of sensitive fabrics and have intricate details like linings and embellishments that require specialized attention. 

Wedding gowns, on the other hand, are sentimental items that hold precious memories and deserve the utmost care. 

So, when it comes to delicate fabrics, materials that may shrink or lose color, or specific clothing items like suits and wedding gowns, dry cleaning emerges as the perfect solution.

Key Takeaways

  • Dry cleaning is a specialized method suitable for a variety of garments, especially those made from delicate fabrics like silk, satin, and lace.
  • Fabrics prone to damage in traditional laundry methods, such as wool or cashmere, benefit from dry cleaning due to its ability to prevent shrinkage and color loss.
  • Suits often have intricate details and are made of sensitive fabrics that require special attention; dry cleaning ensures these details are preserved.
  • Wedding gowns, being sentimental items, deserve the utmost care and dry cleaning helps in preserving their quality and prolonging their lifespan.
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Common Misconceptions About Dry Cleaning

Common misconceptions about dry cleaning often revolve around three key areas.

Firstly, there is a belief that dry cleaning is harmful to the environment. However, this is not entirely accurate.

According to Moose Cleaners, many dry cleaners today have adopted eco-friendly practices and use safer solvents, mitigating the environmental impact.

It’s important to choose a reputable dry cleaner that prioritizes sustainability.

Secondly, understanding the difference between dry cleaning and laundry detergents is crucial.

Dry cleaning involves the use of solvents instead of water to remove stains and clean garments, making it suitable for delicate fabrics that may shrink or become damaged when exposed to water.

On the other hand, laundry detergents are designed for use with water and are suitable for most everyday clothing items.

Lastly, debunking the myth that dry cleaning is too expensive is essential.

While it may be true that dry cleaning can sometimes be more costly than traditional laundry, the price difference is often justified by the specialized care and expertise provided by professional dry cleaners.

Additionally, many dry cleaners offer discounts and promotions to make their services more affordable.

Key Takeaways

  • Many dry cleaners today use eco-friendly practices and safer solvents, reducing their environmental impact.
  • Dry cleaning uses solvents, not water, making it ideal for delicate fabrics that could shrink or get damaged when exposed to water.
  • While dry cleaning can be pricier than traditional laundry, the price difference is often justified by the specialized care and expertise offered by professional dry cleaners.

4 Tips for Choosing a Quality Dry Cleaning Service

Choosing a quality dry cleaning service involves several crucial steps:

  1. Research Local Options: Start by looking for dry-cleaning services in your local area. This can give you a good idea of what’s available and help you narrow down your choices.
  2. Check Customer Reviews and Testimonials: Look for customer reviews, ratings, and testimonials. These can provide insight into the experiences of other customers and indicate the quality of the service.
  3. Evaluate the Cleanliness and Professionalism of the Facility: A clean and professional-looking facility often reflects the quality of service you can expect. Pay attention to how the staff treats you and whether they answer your questions effectively.
  4. Ask About Pricing: Dry cleaning can be expensive, so it’s essential to ensure you’re getting good value for your money. Ask each potential dry cleaner about their pricing structure to make sure it fits within your budget.

Remember, choosing the right dry cleaning service is about more than just location—it’s about ensuring your clothes are in the best possible hands.

Home Dry Cleaning Alternatives

When it comes to home dry cleaning alternatives, it’s important to understand their limitations and consider when professional dry cleaning is the better option.

At-home dry cleaning kits can be convenient and cost-effective, but they may not be suitable for all fabrics and stains.

It’s essential to read and follow the instructions carefully to achieve the best results.

These kits typically contain a small amount of cleaning solution and come with a stain remover.

However, it’s worth noting that at-home methods may not be as thorough or effective as professional dry cleaning.

Using alternatives like spot cleaning with mild detergent or steam cleaning to freshen up garments between professional cleanings.

It’s also recommends using natural solutions like vinegar or baking soda for odor removal.

However, there are instances when professional dry cleaning is the preferred choice.

If you have delicate or valuable items, such as silk or wool garments, it’s safer to entrust them to professionals who have expertise in handling and cleaning such fabrics.

Additionally, professional dry cleaners have access to specialized equipment and solvents that may not be available for home use, ensuring a more thorough and effective cleaning process.

I advises seeking professional help for heavily stained or structured garments that require specialized care.

It’s also worth considering professional dry cleaning for items with complex construction, intricate detailing, or those labeled as “dry clean only” by the manufacturer.

In conclusion, while home dry cleaning alternatives can be convenient and cost-effective, it’s important to be aware of their limitations.

Understanding the instructions and testing on a small area are crucial for successful results.

For delicate or valuable items, or garments with stubborn stains, it’s recommended to choose professional dry cleaning.

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Key Takeaways

  • At-home dry cleaning kits can be convenient and cost-effective, but they may not be suitable for all fabrics and stains.
  • Alternatives like spot cleaning with mild detergent or steam cleaning can be used to freshen up garments between professional cleanings.
  • Natural solutions like vinegar or baking soda can be used for odor removal.
  • Items with complex construction, intricate detailing, or those labeled as “dry clean only” by the manufacturer should also be professionally cleaned.
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Our Verdict

So, with all this in mind, you can feel confident the next time you take your clothing to the dry cleaners that they’ll not only return them looking crisp and clean but know that the process is more than just a cycle of soaps and water.

It’s a skilful task based on practice and expertise, allowing your wardrobe to look its best for years down the road! 

Dry cleaning is certainly an art form all of its own, and after reading this, I’m sure you feel more confident about taking your clothes in for a cleaning session.

Don’t be intimidated by the mystery surrounding the overall process – now you understand why it’s necessary, why it’s important to use a reliable and reputable name for the job, and what results to expect. 

Knowing these points will put you in control when it comes time to care for your wardrobe!

If you’re interested in additional advice for living sustainably and having an earth-friendly cleaning routine, take a look at these articles:


Who is a dry cleaner?

A dry cleaner is a professional who specializes in cleaning clothes and fabrics using the dry cleaning method.

What are dry cleaning chemicals?

Dry cleaning chemicals are solvents that are used to clean clothes and fabrics without the use of water. These solvents are designed to evaporate quickly and leave no residue on the clothes.

How can I get the best results from dry cleaning?

To get the best results from dry cleaning, it is important to follow the care label instructions on your clothes and communicate any special instructions or concerns to your dry cleaner. Additionally, choosing a reputable and experienced dry cleaner can also help ensure good results.

What is a stain?

A stain is a mark or discoloration on clothes or fabrics that is often caused by spills or accidents.

What is a dry cleaning machine?

A dry cleaning machine is a specialized equipment used in the dry cleaning process. It is designed to clean and dry clothes using a cleaning solvent.

What is a tag in dry cleaning?

A tag is a label or piece of identification that is attached to clothes or fabrics before they are sent for dry cleaning. This helps the dry cleaner to keep track of the items and ensure proper care.

What is the cleaning method used in dry cleaning?

The cleaning method used in dry cleaning involves using a cleaning solvent instead of water and detergent. This solvent is used to remove dirt, stains, and odors from clothes and fabrics.

Is dry cleaning environmentally friendly?

Dry cleaning can be environmentally friendly depending on the type of solvent used and the practices followed by the dry cleaner. Some dry cleaners now use environmentally friendly solvents and technologies to minimize their impact on the environment.

What are the types of dry cleaning?

There are various types of dry cleaning methods, including traditional dry cleaning, carbon dioxide cleaning, and wet cleaning process. Each method uses different solvents and techniques to clean clothes and fabrics.

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Hanif Roslen is an eco-conscious enthusiast on a mission to help make the world a better, cleaner place. Through day-to-day experience cleaning his own home with those non-toxic cleaners, he has developed innovative and effective green solutions that reduce waste and promote sustainability.

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