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How does the dry cleaning process works

A laundry room with clothes hanging on racks, offering dry cleaning services.

Written by cohenwills

January 13, 2024

How Does Dry Cleaning Work?

We’re here to explain how dry cleaning works. It’s a fascinating process that effectively cleans clothes without water.

We use special solvents to lift dirt and stains from delicate fabrics. Dry cleaning preserves the color, shape, and texture of your clothing, while removing stubborn stains.

We’ll also touch on the environmental impact and efforts to develop eco-friendly solvents.

Curious about how it all works? Keep reading to learn more.

Key Takeaways

  • Dry cleaning uses a petroleum-based solvent to wash clothes without water.
  • The most commonly used chemical in dry cleaning is perchloroethylene (PERC), which has been associated with health risks.
  • Dry cleaning is more effective in removing deep-set stains like oil and grease compared to washing with water.
  • Efforts are being made to develop more environmentally friendly solvents for dry cleaning.

Dry Cleaning Process

The dry cleaning process begins by tagging and inspecting garments for proper identification and any pre-existing damage. This step ensures that each garment is returned to the correct owner and that any issues are addressed before cleaning.

Once tagged, the garments are inspected for stains and treated with specific formulas to pre-treat the stains. After pre-treatment, the garments are loaded into a large drum machine that uses a dry cleaning solvent, such as perchloroethylene (PERC) or alternative eco-friendly solvents, to clean the clothes without water. The machine agitates the clothes, allowing the solvent to penetrate and lift dirt and stains.

After cleaning, the solvent is extracted from the clothes and the machine for reuse. Finally, the garments are post-spotted to remove any remaining stains and then finished by steaming or pressing to remove wrinkles. The result is clean, fresh garments ready to be returned to their owners.

Chemicals Used in Dry Cleaning

Our choice of chemicals in dry cleaning is primarily guided by their effectiveness and safety. The most commonly used chemical solvent in dry cleaning is perchloroethylene (PERC). It’s effective in removing various types of stains, including oil and grease stains, making it a popular choice among dry cleaners.

However, PERC has been associated with health risks, including negative effects on the nervous system and an increase in cancer cases among former dry-cleaning workers. In recent years, efforts have been made to develop more environmentally friendly solvents for dry cleaning.

Wet cleaning, which uses water and biodegradable detergents, is an alternative recommended by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Safer alternatives to traditional solvents, such as propylene glycol ethers, are also being explored.

It’s important to prioritize the safety of workers, consumers, and the environment when choosing chemicals for the dry cleaning process.

Health Risks of Dry Cleaning

As we delve into the topic of dry cleaning, it is important to address the potential health risks associated with this process. The use of dry cleaning solvents, such as perchloroethylene (PERC), has been linked to health concerns. These solvents can release toxic chemicals into the environment, posing risks to both workers and consumers. To mitigate these risks, dry cleaning facilities have implemented thorough recovery processes to prevent leaching and ventilation systems to handle the cleaning process. In certain areas, PERC has been phased out due to its health hazards. Efforts are also being made to develop more environmentally friendly solvents and promote alternative methods like wet cleaning, which uses water and biodegradable detergents. Overall, it is crucial to consider the potential health risks when engaging in dry cleaning processes.

Health Risks of Dry Cleaning Dry Cleaning Process Works Dry Cleaners Use
– Release toxic chemicals into the environment – Uses petroleum-based solvent – Perchloroethylene (PERC)
– Risks to workers and consumers – Solvent is extracted and reused – Alternatives being developed
– Phased out in certain areas – Effective in removing deep-set stains – Wet cleaning as an alternative

Comparison to Washing With Water

When it comes to cleaning clothes, it’s important to compare dry cleaning with washing with water.

Washing uses water as the main solvent and involves agitation to remove dirt, making it suitable for a wide range of fabrics. It can be done at home with a washing machine or by hand, and professional laundry services are also available.

On the other hand, dry cleaning uses a chemical solvent, typically perchloroethylene, and is the preferred method for delicate fabrics like silk, wool, and cashmere. It’s essential for garments with intricate details or those labeled as dry clean only. Dry cleaning is performed by professional dry cleaners due to the specialized equipment and chemicals involved.

Dry cleaning excels at removing tough stains like oil-based marks, ink, or grease.

Additional Information and Resources

Let’s explore some valuable additional information and resources related to dry cleaning.

When it comes to the dry cleaning method, it’s important to understand the solvent used and how it interacts with different textile fibers. It’s also helpful to have some cleaning tips and care instructions for your garments.

There are many articles available that provide more in-depth information on dry cleaning, including the chemicals used and the health risks associated with them. Understanding laundry symbols can also guide consumers in properly caring for their garments.

Additionally, learning about hand-washing techniques and historical examples of infamous stains can be intriguing.

For those looking for environmentally friendly alternatives, green home cleaning tips offer valuable suggestions.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Dry Cleaning Safe for All Types of Fabric?

Dry cleaning is generally safe for all types of fabric, but it’s important to check the label for cleaning instructions. Some delicate materials, like sequins or rayon, may require special care. Consult with your cleaner for the best option.

Can Dry Cleaning Remove All Types of Stains?

Dry cleaning can effectively remove many types of stains, including oil and grease. However, it may not be able to remove all types of stains. Consult with a professional cleaner for the best option.

How Long Does the Dry Cleaning Process Typically Take?

The dry cleaning process typically takes 24 to 48 hours. We tag and inspect the clothes, pre-treat stains, clean them in solvent machines, extract the solvent, air-dry the clothes, and press them to remove wrinkles.

What Is the Average Cost of Dry Cleaning Different Types of Clothing?

The average cost of dry cleaning different types of clothing can vary depending on the location. Prices typically range from $3 to $10 for a shirt.

Are There Any Alternatives to Dry Cleaning That Are Equally Effective?

There are alternatives to dry cleaning that are equally effective, such as wet cleaning and home dry cleaning kits. These options provide environmentally friendly alternatives while still effectively cleaning clothes.


In conclusion, dry cleaning is a highly effective method for cleaning clothes without water. By using chemical solvents, dry cleaning can lift dirt and stains from delicate fabrics, preserving the color, shape, and texture of the garments.

It also has the advantage of removing stubborn stains that may not come out with traditional washing methods. Efforts are being made to develop more eco-friendly solvents to minimize the environmental impact of dry cleaning.

Overall, dry cleaning is a valuable process for maintaining and restoring the quality of clothing. ###

Q: How does the dry cleaning process work?

A: Dry cleaning is a process where garments are cleaned using a solvent instead of water. The solvent helps to remove stains and dirt from the fabric without affecting the texture or color of the garment.

Q: What is the solvent used in dry cleaning?

A: The most common solvent used in dry cleaning is perchloroethylene, also known as perc. Other solvents like liquid carbon dioxide and hydrocarbon are also used in the process.

Q: How do I get the best results from dry cleaning?

A: To get the best results from dry cleaning, it is important to communicate any specific stains or concerns with your dry cleaner. Additionally, choosing a reputable dry cleaner with modern cleaning machines can ensure high-quality results.

Q: What happens to my clothes during the dry cleaning process?

A: During the dry cleaning process, the garments are first checked for stains and treated accordingly. Then, they are placed in a cleaning machine where a solvent is used to remove dirt and stains. Finally, the garments undergo a thorough inspection before being returned to the customer.

Q: Are there different types of dry cleaning processes?

A: Yes, there are different types of dry cleaning processes, including traditional solvent-based dry cleaning, as well as newer methods such as liquid carbon dioxide cleaning and hydrocarbon-based cleaning.

Q: What are some common terms related to dry cleaning?

A: Some common terms related to dry cleaning include dry cleaning machine, cleaning solvent, garment care, dry cleaning process, and dry cleaner. These terms are often used when discussing the techniques and outcomes of the dry cleaning industry.

Q: What should I know before using a dry cleaning service?

A: Before using a dry cleaning service, it is important to understand the process of dry cleaning, the types of solvents used, and the care instructions for your garments. Additionally, communicating any specific concerns with the dry cleaner can ensure the best results for your clothing.

Q: How did dry cleaning begin and evolve over time?

A: Dry cleaning began with the use of kerosene and gasoline as cleaning solvents, which posed flammability and environmental concerns. Over time, advancements led to the use of safer solvents and more efficient cleaning machines, contributing to the evolution of the dry cleaning industry.

Q: Is dry cleaning an environmentally friendly process?

A: While traditional solvent-based dry cleaning raised environmental concerns, newer methods such as liquid carbon dioxide cleaning and hydrocarbon-based cleaning offer more environmentally friendly alternatives. Many dry cleaners have transitioned to these newer processes to reduce their environmental impact.

Q: What are the final steps in the dry cleaning process?

A: The final steps in the dry cleaning process involve a thorough inspection of the cleaned garments to ensure they meet quality standards. Any necessary finishing touches, such as pressing or minor repairs, may also be completed before returning the garments to the customer.


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