Drycleaning is very similar to regular home laundering, but a liquid solvent is used to clean your clothes instead of water and detergent. The solvent contains little or no water, hence the term “dry cleaning”.
Drycleaners use very large and technically advanced computer-controlled dry cleaning machines. Your clothes do get wet, but the liquid solvent used evaporates much more quickly than water. Since solvent is used instead of water, it is not drained and disposed of as a washing machine does with soiled water. The solvent is re-circulated through filters throughout the entire cleaning cycle to remove impurities loosened during the cleaning process. Then the solvent is distilled to be crystal clear and totally purifed before it is used again.
Drycleaning has two distinct advantages over cleaning with water or “wet” cleaning: Water swells the fibres. It is this swelling action which causes shrinkage and dye fading in many garments. Drycleaning solvents are much more superior to water in the removal of oily or greasy residues which are the base component of many stains.
After your clothes have been properly cleaned, your cleaner “finishes” (presses) your garments using specialized finishing equipment.
Finishing processes used vary, depending on the garments being processed, but generally involve steaming and pressing.
Steaming is effective for relaxing wrinkles, enhancing pressing, and also serves to enhance cleaning by removing any remaining water-soluble materials and killing bacteria.
Pressing is the final step and produces crisp, smooth results difficult to duplicate at home with a hand iron. This requires considerable skill and training and allows for a final inspection of the garment. After your garments have been pressed, they are inspected one last time and packaged to await your arrival.
Factors Determining the Cleaning Method
Four major factors determine whether a garment is cleaned in water or solvent:
- The types of soil present
- The fibre composition and garment construction
- The dye present in the fabric
- The nature of the various trims, linings, or other findings that may be used in the garment.
Many factors determine whether a dry cleaning or a wet cleaning process is compatible with a particular garment or textile article. Your professional cleaner, therefore, must use his or her professional judgment to determine which process will best restore the garment to a like “new” condition.