Dry cleaning is a process of cleaning clothes without water but using chemical or cleaning solvents. These cleaning solvents are in liquid form and therefore it is not an entirely “dry” process – the “dry” refers to the cleaning process without the use of water. The most widely-used liquid solvent in the dry cleaning industry is called Tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene or “perc”). Perc is a colourless liquid with effective cleaning power and compatible with most fabrics.
Over the years, there were concerns around the potential side effects on the health and environment with perc. As such, the dry-cleaning industry is gradually switching away from using perc and opted for a more environmental-friendly solution, also known as “Green Dry Cleaning”.
The commonly used green alternative to perc is Liquid Carbon Dioxide (Liquid CO2), which is non-toxic and has been used to produce carbonated drinks. The dry cleaning process is similar to the wet cleaning process using a washing machine. Garments are placed into the dry cleaning machine, which looks similar to a combined washer and dryer machine.
Next, liquid solvent instead of water is filled into the machine during the wash cycle and the temperature is maintained at approximately 30°C, which is the optimal temperature for solvent as the higher temperature will potentially damage it. After the wash cycle, the machine will continue on with the drying cycle to get rid of excess solvent. This process continues until the garments are clean and ready for pressing, steaming, or ironing.
As a rule of thumb, always refer to the garment care label on the clothing item for washing instructions such as “Dry Clean Only”. If the label is missing or does not indicate any washing instructions, the next step is to decide the washing method based on the fabric type.
Garments that should be dry cleaned include clothing items that are made from fibers that do not react well with water that will cause shrinkage or fabrics that will stretch easily and become out of shape easily. These fabrics include delicate silk, leather, velvet, and wool knits. Sequinned or beaded clothes such as traditional wear (e.g. sarees, cheongsam, kebaya) or evening gowns are recommended to be dry cleaned because the sequins or beads attached to the garment are fragile and likely to fall out if these garments are not handled with care during the wet cleaning process. Any formal, important, or vintage clothing items such as expensive suits and wedding gowns should be dry cleaned as the shape can be retained and preserved better than normal wet cleaning process.
Garments that do not need dry cleaning include everyday clothing items made from cotton or synthetic fabrics such as polyester and spandex. However, it is recommended to use cold water to wash these garments in order to minimize the potential shrinkage or discolouring. Refer to ‘Water Temperature
Guide For Laundry’ for more information:
If you are still deciding whether to dry clean your garment, do not hesitate to contact us. We will be able to provide you with our professional recommendation that works best for your precious garment.