What Happens to Your Clothes When They Go to the Dry Cleaner?

What Happens to Your Clothes When They Go to the Dry Cleaner?
The word "dry cleaning" is a bit misleading. Dry cleaning refers to the process of cleaning textiles and fabrics with a chemical solvent that includes little or no water in the United States. Dry cleaning does not permeate the fibers like water does in a washing machine while cleaning the surface of garments.

Clothing and materials that cannot resist the rigors of a conventional home washer and dryer are often dry cleaned. This procedure keeps many materials' attractive properties while also preventing shrinking and stretching. It also reduces the amount of time spent washing hands. Wet cleaning is available at most dry cleaners for washable items such as starched shirts, trousers, and household linen.

Dry Cleaning Chemicals: A Brief History

Dry cleaning has been around since the time of the Romans, when ammonia was used to clean woolen togas to prevent shrinkage caused by hot water. Cleaners then switched to petroleum-based solvents such as gasoline and kerosene, which proved to be extremely combustible and unsafe to employ.

Cleaning companies began employing perchloroethylene, or "perc," in the 1930s. Many commercial cleaners still use this chlorinated solvent because it is incredibly effective. Perc has a distinct chemical odor and is known to cause cancer in people. The US Environmental Protection Agency started regulating dry cleaning chemicals in the 1990s, encouraging commercial cleaners to use safer, more environmentally friendly solvents.

Green dry cleaning uses a carbon dioxide detergent system and cleaning machines that pressurize liquid carbon dioxide through clothes to eliminate grime. Because there is no heat involved, the method is also gentler on materials.

The Procedure for Commercial Dry Cleaning

When you drop off your soiled garments at your local dry cleaner, the commercial dry cleaning process begins. Most dry cleaners today do not have the massive, expensive cleaning equipment on-site; instead, they will transfer your clothes to a central cleaning facility. This is less expensive than installing equipment at each drop-off point. Each object must be cleaned in various steps:

Tagging on Clothes

An identification number is attached to each item. Paper tags are tacked or attached to the garment by some cleaners. For regular clients, others utilize an iron-on strip with a permanently allocated barcode. Clothing with similar stains from different clients is cleaned together, and tagging guarantees that your clothing are returned to you.

Inspection of Clothing

Items left in pockets, rips, tears, and missing buttons are all checked before clothes are cleaned. These items are returned to customers, and any flaws are indicated as issues that were discovered prior to cleaning.

Pre-treatment of stains

Before the solvent cleaning process, the cleaner inspects the garments for stains and treatments them as part of the inspection process. If you know what created a stain, telling the cleaner about it will help you receive the greatest results during the stain removal process. A professional cleaner will also remove or cover delicate buttons and trim them to avoid harm.

Dry Cleaning Machine

Soiled clothing are placed into a big drum machine and cleaned with a chemical solvent that does not require water. The soils loosen as the clothing are gently stirred in the solution. After that, the solvent is drained, filtered, and recycled, and the clothing are "rinsed" in a fresh solvent solution to remove any remaining soil.

Spotting After

Because of the chemical solvent, the dry cleaning procedure is highly effective at removing oil-based stains. Other forms of stains, on the other hand, are not always easily removed. As a result, all items are spotted afterward to check for any lingering stains. To eliminate any lingering remnants, the stains are cleaned with steam, water, or even a vacuum.


The final stage is to prepare the garment for wear. Steaming or pressing creases, reattaching buttons, and performing repairs are all examples of this. The items are then folded or hung to be returned to the customer. The plastic bags provided are merely to assist you in getting your garments home without causing further stains. If you don't remove them straight away, you risk damaging your garments due to stored moisture.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Dry Cleaning Service

Always read the labels on products.

This one may seem self-evident, but many individuals ignore or even take off the labels on their apparel. To ensure thorough cleaning, your dry cleaner should always read to the labels before washing, but you should be the first to call attention to any particular care recommendations or distinctive textiles.

Make No Attempt to Remove Your Own Stains

It's tempting to try to remove a stain from our clothes yourself when we spill anything or detect a spot. Avoid this temptation by taking it straight to the dry cleaners. You're much more likely to aggravate the situation by pressing the oil, dye, or food further into the fabric, making removal even more difficult or impossible.

During drop-off, be sure to point out any stains.

Always make a point of pointing out and identifying stains so that they can be properly marked and handled prior to washing.

Any special buttons or embellishments should be noted.

Delicate buttons or embellishments on some clothing necessitate extra attention. Because you'll presumably be dealing with a desk clerk who won't be doing the cleaning, point them out and ask if they can be protected or removed while the room is being cleaned. As part of the service, inquire if the objects will be reattached.

Set up Special Care Requests Front

When dropping off, make sure to point out any stains, sensitive fabrics, or embellishments. Don't take chances or assume everything will be fine throughout the dry cleaning procedure. Having a conversation with your cleaner will yield here much better outcomes, which you and your clothes will appreciate.

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