Laundry is one of the mundane chores we get done without too much thought. However, once in a while we leave a few of our prized outfits at the cleaners, but do we really know what goes on behind the curtain?
You may have occasionally thought, “What is dry cleaning?” But chances are you haven’t bothered to find out. Most of us are just happy to get our clothes back clean without a second thought to what actually happens to them during the process. Well, it’s time to put all the mystery to rest. Let’s answer the questions, “What exactly is dry cleaning and what does it do to your clothes?”
Simply put, dry cleaning is exactly that;dry. Cleaning without the use of water. Pretty obvious, right? No magic here folks. In place of water, non-water based chemical solutions are used to clean the clothes. Granted, the clothes are immersed in the solvents, so it’s not technically dry - it’s the absence of water that makes the process “dry.”
The most commonly used solvent is perchlorethylene (perc), a much faster and safer solvent than its predecessors trichloroethylene and carbon tetrachloride. Perc also does a much better job at cleaning and does not require huge equipment – much more efficient all round.
Dry cleaning machines look like bigger, fancier versions of washing machines. Solvent repeatedly is pumped through, stripping the dirt from your clothes. What follows is extraction – the process of removing the solvent from your clothes, similar to the spin cycle on your own washing machine. Once all solvent is removed, the clothes are dried, deodorized and aerated.
Bet you thought the whole thing was a little more complicated, huh?
For starters, the solvents used in the process are able to remove grease and oils that water simply cannot. Additionally, water tends to shrink natural fibers such as wool and silk, while the dry cleaning process does not. Simply put, dry cleaning leaves clothes looking and feeling like new for a much longer time than water does.
Other benefits of dry cleaning include:
Your basic t-shirts may take a beating without worry, but your top quality garments could really benefit from the process. The key is moderation: it's excessive washing - in water or not - that makes clothes breakdown. Unless your item states it should be dry cleaned only, it's best to alternate between at-home washing and dry-cleaning.
While our100% cotton dress shirts are machine washable, why not help prolong their shelf life with some dry cleaning? That way,you stay looking your best for a whole lot longer.