Does Dry Cleaning Actually Clean?

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Getting clothing dry-cleaned can be quite an undertaking. You have to go to a dry cleaner or pay them to come and pick up your clothing. However, when you get your clothes back from the dry cleaner, they will be draped in their own plastic bag and will smell good, but you may have wondered if your duds are really clean if they are not put into hot soapy water. Fear not, because dry cleaning really does get your clothes clean.

dry cleaning

Why Some Clothes Need to be Dry Cleaned

According to, some fabrics simply cannot be immersed in water. If you try to wash a linen jacket, it may come out with wrinkles that are hard to remove. A wool sweater may shrink or fall apart in the wash. An article of clothing should have a tag with washing instructions, and if it says, “dry clean only,” you should heed that advice.

How Dry Cleaning Works

Dry cleaning isn’t completely dry. It employs chemical solvents to get clothes clean. Those solvents remove stains, grease, and dirt. Clothing is cleaned in a dry cleaning machine which is a combination of a washer and dryer. There are a few steps to the process.

A dry cleaner will look at the stain to see what it is made of. They will then decide the type of solvent they should use to get the stain out. They will then place the clothes into the dry cleaning machine and add solvent gradually.

When the cleaning is done, they will often apply more chemicals that will neutralize the solvents. They will then use steam, dry heat, or some water to get out the chemicals. When the fabric is completely dry, they will check it for spots and clean anything that is left with color-safe bleach or regular bleach if the item is white.

When your item is ready, the dry cleaner will iron it. They will then bag it and give it back to you.

What chemicals do dry cleaners use?

In the early part of the 20th century, dry cleaners used kerosene to remove stains. Kerosene was also used as lamp oil and to kill lice. Kerosene is flammable, and dry cleaners wanted an alternative.

After World War II, they started using a solvent called Perc or perchloroethylene, which is quite a powerful cleaner. It is also used for cleaning the brakes on cars. Although perc can be reused many times, it is still not the best thing for the environment. Hence, in some cases, dry cleaners use eco-friendly chemicals.

Some dry cleaners use bromopropane, which is normally used in adhesives. It is also an excellent stain remover.  Petroleum spirits are often used in dry cleaning as well. This is a clear liquid that is often used in paint thinner.

If you only use your dry-cleaned clothes on special occasions and hang them up after you wear them, you can wear them a few times before using them again.

Clothes that need to be dry cleaned are generally made out of the best and most beautiful materials. If you dry clean your nice threads, they will last a long time and look great when you wear them.

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