What is dry cleaning?

dry cleaned shirtsThere’s nothing wrong with relying on your washing machine, and sure – it can accomplish a lot in the way of stain removal and general cleaning. However, if you have a heavy duty stain, or you’ve acquired a certain garment that has the dreaded moniker of ‘dry clean only’, you need to consult the professionals.

Dry cleaners utilise entirely different methods to clean your laundry – using complex machinery and chemicals. The end result? A much cleaner finish, and fresher clothes in general. Of course, this service comes at an additional cost (both literally and figuratively), but is imperative in order to get your clothes looking like new.

How dry cleaning works

Dry cleaning utilises a liquid called perchloroethylene (sometimes called perc). It evaporates in a much shorter span of time than water (hence ‘dry’ cleaning) and is much more effective in breaking down and removing greasy or oily stains than H2O and detergent.

Your clothes are placed into a machine – much like a washing machine, but larger – and then agitated by this solvent inside a ‘drum’. The solvent is cycled through a condenser to remove water and foreign objects, before being fed back into the drum as clean solvent. After washing, the machine begins an extraction process to remove any excess solvent. Clothing is then dried in the manner the dry cleaner deems appropriate (e.g. steam cleaning, pressing etc.)

Is there a downside to dry cleaning? Certainly. AskMen argues that the hotter than normal cleaning temperatures and the use of perc may affect the lifespan of clothing. However, if you have a stubborn stain and an important event that requires your clothing to look its best, it’s a sensible solution to stay sharp and clean.

Thanks to the DryCleaning Institute of Australia for this information.

Share this article