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Understanding the Dry Cleaning Process

You may be wondering how exactly professional cleaners are able to remove dirt and stains without getting clothes wet. The truth is that “dry cleaning” is a little bit of a misleading term – read on to discover how the process really works:

Just how “dry” is dry cleaning?

Dry cleaning does, in fact, use liquids to clean clothes – it just doesn’t use water. Instead, dry cleaners use a petroleum solvent called perchloroethylene, or “perc” for short, to dissolve grease and oils without the need for soapy water. Perc is gentle on both textiles and dyes, preventing the weakening of fabrics and running of colours that washing machines may cause.

How does it work?

The process actually isn’t terribly different from machine washing. Clothing is tagged for easy identification and placed in specialized dry cleaning machines that clean the items with perc, which is then recovered with an extractor for reuse and conservation purposes. Once the garments are cleaned and pressed, they’re good to go.

Why choose dry cleaning over a normal machine wash?

Dry cleaning is ideal for delicate items like silks and velvet that may not stand up to the mechanical intensity of a washing machine, with its rapid spinning and rotating agitator. It’s also very useful for cleaning fabrics that don’t necessarily mix well with water or with the heat of a dryer – wool, for instance, is very prone to shrinking and/or losing its shape from both machine agitation and dryer heat.

Of course, dry cleaners offer services beyond simply cleaning items of clothing – most are ready and able to perform alterations, re-size garments, and repair tears and loose buttons. They’re a great way to keep your wardrobe clean and healthy.

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