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What's the Difference in Dry Cleaning and Wet Cleaning?

Posted by David Whitehurst on Jan 24, 2011 11:54:00 AM

Dry Cleaning vs Wet Cleaning

We've come a long way since the day of the scrub board!  This is the earlier version of wet cleaning.

We're asked about the difference between dry cleaning and wet cleaning quite often.  I suppose this is because most people have never been inside a dry cleaning plant.

I invite you by Champion Cleaners anytime to get a tour of a modern dry cleaning facility.

Dry Cleaning

The funny thing about dry cleaning is that it's not dry.  Dry cleaning involves immersing a garment in a grease dissolving solvent.  Detergents and other "ingredients" like sizing are included with dry cleaning solvents to get the best result. 

So why is it called "Dry" cleaning?  Because water is not used as a cleaning agent.

Modern dry cleaning equipment looks a lot like a big washing machine that is computer controlled with just the right amount of solvent and detergents to make the cleaning process most effective.  The dry cleaning machine tumbles as it cleans the clothes.  Then the solvents are removed from the machine, filtered and internally cleaned for reuse. The clothes are tumble dried in the dry cleaning machine and removed for finishing (the "ironing" and steaming process). Clothes are sorted and placed in the dry cleaning machine soiled and dry...and are shortly thereafter removed from the dry cleaning machine clean and dry.

Wet Cleaning

Wet cleaning involves the immersing of a garment in water with detergents and other additives to accomplish the goal of cleaning your clothes and household items, like bedspreads and comforters.

Just like washing clothes at home, the washer removes water from the clothes in a spinning process.  The wet cleaner then removes the clothes from the washer and places them in a dryer or hangs them up to dry inside the dry cleaning plant.  They are then taken to the finishing area for pressing and steaming to relax the fabric after the cleaning process.

Spot Clean Only

Dry cleaners try to identify stains and spots before cleaning so the garment can be "pre-spotted" and then cleaned...either dry cleaned or wet cleaned.  The dry cleaning or wet cleaning process after the pre-spotting step removes the "solvent ring" that is left after pre-spotting.  That's why "Spot Clean Only" garments are more of a "One And Done" garment...they can't be safely dry cleaned or wet cleaned so the "solvent ring" remains on a Spot Clean Only garment.  I recently wrote about "Spot Clean Only" garments.  Here is a link to that article.

Dry Cleaners today have more resources and knowledge for cleaning garments.  Many garments today can be wet cleaned that carry a "dry clean only" care label.  Traditionally, dry cleaning does a great job of removing grease from stains such as food, makeup but not as effective at removing water-soluble stains such as dirt and perspiration.  Wet cleaning is the best alternative for water-soluble stains.

So when you've been out on the gold course in the heat of the summer, ask your dry cleaner to be sure to wet clean those khaki (cotton) pants and golf shirt.  They will be cleaner and better deodorized with wet cleaning.  Dry cleaning leaves a softer feel to the garment than wet cleaning.  So both methods have advantages and disadvantages.  It's important for you to know what they are.

Wash Dry and Fold Service in Birmingham Alabama

Need a Break...or Do You Need Someone You Can Depend On To handle Your Weekly Laundry Chores?

Get Champion Cleaners Wash Dry & Fold Service.  We'll Even Pickup and Deliver In Our Service Area!  We Charge by The Pound...Not The Piece.

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