Dry cleaning is a method of cleaning clothes without the use of water. In this method, a solvent which is not water is used for the cleaning. This is not the case with regular laundry, which involves the cleaning of clothes with detergent and water. Dry cleaning is very efficient and can be used in cases where; the material is delicate, the fabric does not support water, one is in a hurry and needs a fast cleaning, one is in need of a very convenient method of cleaning.
Since moisture and mechanical action will lead to shrinkage, some materials just cannot afford to go through such a process. This is when dry cleaning will be called to the rescue.
There are some concerns about dry cleaning. If you frequently dry clean your clothes, then you may have had some moments when you really doubted that your clothes were clean like you could literally get some odours from your freshly dry cleaned clothes. Here is an explanation of the whole dry cleaning process, which will likely help you make decisions next time you request a laundry pick up in London.
How does Dry cleaning work?
Dry cleaning uses some solvents to eliminate dirt. The most commonly used solvent is the perchloroethylene which is known as Perc. However, in recent times, organic solvents are also largely used. It is stored in a dry cleaning machine which is similar to a washing machine, and after some processes, the solvents are able to interact with the dirty clothes, taking away grease, oil, and impurities. Wet cleaning will simply soak the dirty clothes in clean water and detergent, eliminating dirt and odour and resulting in a clean cloth.
Does dry cleaning work?
You might be considering that with the use of solvents to clean clothes, dry cleaning may not really be as clean as you envisaged it to be. Here is what you should know. First, not all clothes you take to the dry cleaners’ actually get dry cleaned. After your selection process at home, the dry cleaner still does a final selection process. Clothes with washable water fabrics do not need to be dry cleaned, but the dry cleaner does not necessarily need to tell you that. These clothes are simply wet-washed (washed with soap and water, and then pressed while wet to eliminate wrinkles and get it dried quickly).
For delicate fabric like wool, cashmere and silk, or fabrics that are heavily fixed with adornments like beads and sequins, water will do them more harm than good. This is where dry cleaning comes in. The solvents penetrate the clothes collecting all forms of impurities.
Now, you might be worried about the solvent being left on your clothes since there is no use of water to rinse it off. However, this problem is solved during the drying process. During this process, the residual solvent in the fabric is evaporated, leaving the fabric fresh and chemical-free.
But does it really remove smells?
Since we are being honest, not completely. Dry cleaning will not properly take away the odour from a piece of fabric. If your main reason for needing dry cleaning is to eliminate odour, then you might reconsider using dry cleaning as an option. The odour left by perspiration requires some more pressure to be eliminated, and since dry cleaning does not offer this, you might get your clothes returned to you looking clean and fresh, but still smelling bad. Also, the solvent Perc can still leave tiny residues on the fabric, causing air pollution.
Is the solvent really clean?
Perchloroethylene which is the most common solvent used in dry cleaning can be harmful to the environment. It is a carcinogen and can cause several problems like reproductive concerns, kidney problems, renal, liver and even neurological issues. Short term exposure with Perc will practically have a patient suffering from dizziness, increased heartbeat, palpitations and fatigue. This buttresses the strength of this solvent. It is practically unsafe for the environment, and chances are the drying machine might not completely evaporate the Perc from your fabric, leaving small residues that can compound and form large problems.
As mentioned earlier, there is an increase in the use of more organic and silicone-based solvents. These solvents are less toxic and more environment-friendly. However, with the safety comes an increase in price. The machines that allow the use of these organic solvents are more expensive, so do not be surprised if your dry cleaning bills are increased.
Does the dry cleaning eliminate all stains?
Dry cleaning is very effective and will properly deal with stains from oil and grease. However, some stubborn stains will still remain after dry cleaning. This is why the dry cleaners examine the clothes after the process, and if any residual stain is seen, it is then washed again or bleached particularly for that stain. The wrinkles are eliminated in the drier, and then the clothes are properly ironed and packaged to prevent them from collecting more dirt on the way to its owner. Note that the packages should be removed as soon as possible to prevent stains due to the trapped moisture in the package.
Which process is cleaner?
This is obviously debatable and dependent on the material of the cloth. Lighter clothes will obviously get cleaner with proper water and soap treatment. However, when thick, padded, adorned, and delicately trimmed materials are brought, then obviously dry cleaning will take the dirt off better than wet washing.
You might have to make some critical decisions before cleaning your clothes. Weigh your options and make certain considerations using the knowledge you have acquired, and you will be able to choose the right cleaning option for your clothes.
It is advisable to take precautions to ensure that your clothes are clean. Take the dry cleaned clothes away from the package when you receive them, ensure that your clothesline consists of both dry cleanable and wet washable clothes instead of restricting them to a particular choice. Whenever you have the time, try a bit of hand washing for light materials, and you will get the best results. Also, take the time to discuss with your dry cleaners and look for the ones that use the organic and silicon-based solvents as these are safer.