Laundering (or washing) is a water-based cleaning process that most often utilises a washer/dryer combination and a washing detergent. Dry cleaning, much like its name suggests, uses no water but is a comprehensive process that cleans the clothing just as effectively. While both cleaning processes have their purposes, in general, dry cleaning is better for delicate items and the removal of oil-based stains than conventional washing in a machine.
What is dry cleaning?
Despite what the name suggests, dry cleaning involves using a liquid solvent to clean you clothes, instead of water. The ‘dry’ in the name refers to whether or not water is used, it does not refer to liquid. Your clothes do actually get wet during a dry clean process, but the liquid solvent evaporates more quickly and it is only used on fabrics which it is suitable for.
Which fabrics need to be dry cleaned?
Most fabrics can be washed in water, but there are some synthetics and materials which react poorly and would be better dry-cleaned, such as wool, velvet, acetate, suede, leather and silk. A water wash can also be damaging to clothing with buttons, sequins and lace, so a dry clean would be a better option for delicate items like these.
Clothing that has a lining (jackets & coats usually), as well as pleated fabric such as a pleated skirt should also ideally be dry cleaned. This is to protect the shape and fit of the item.
As well as clothes, lots of other household fabrics are suitable for dry cleaning including duvets, curtains, bedding and rugs.
How is dry cleaning different to washing?
The main difference between dry cleaning and washing is the use of water. Washing / laundering uses water and washing detergent, whereas dry cleaning uses no water and a liquid solvent.
As dry cleaning uses solvent instead of water, its much more effective at removing oil-based and hard-to-remove stains from clothing.
Is dry cleaning more effective than washing?
Whether or not dry cleaning is more effective than washing really depends on the garment you are washing. For oil-based stains, dry cleaning is more effective than washing. For clothes that have an odour, especially items with body odour from perspiration, washing will be much more effective than dry cleaning.
A professional laundry service near you will be able to choose the correct cleaning method for your items. Just make sure you let them know about any particular odours or stains before they begin.
Is dry cleaning really clean?
Some people think that dry cleaning doesn’t really clean clothes properly because it doesn’t always come with that ‘clean clothes’ smell they are used to. That’s because dry cleaning works to break down the tough dirt and oil-based stains in the fabrics, but it does not work so well on odours.
However, just because it doesn’t smell like a fresh meadow on a breezy summers morning, dry cleaning still does a very good job of cleaning clothes.← How does it work?