Dry Cleaning 101: Seven Fabrics That Need To Be Dry Cleaned

Life would be much easier if you can simply toss all your dirty laundry inside the washer. However, not all fabrics are created equal; some require a different kind of care and treatment that hand washing or machine washing cannot provide.

What is dry cleaning? 

Dry cleaning can remove dirt and stains from your clothes without using soap and water. You are now probably wondering, how does dry cleaning work? Contrary to popular belief, it is not a “dry” process. Fabrics are dipped and soaked in a special liquid chemical solvent, mostly perchlorethylene or perc. Alternative solvents are trichloroethane and petroleum spirits.

While perc has long been recognized as an effective dry cleaning solution, as a volatile organic solvent, it can still pose health hazards if exposure is not well controlled. People who have allergies are prone to experience irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat when exposed to solvent traces. If you will dry clean at home, wear protective masks and gloves when dry cleaning.

Care symbols on laundry tags – what do they mean?

Take a moment before cutting those itchy laundry tags off your clothes. They are there for a purpose! You can use them as a guide when laundering your fabrics to make sure they will last a long time in good condition.

What can you see in these tags? These little labels give you proper washing and drying instructions intended for the fabric used in your garments. There are five basic symbols for fabric care – wash, bleach, dry, iron, and of course dry clean. Symbols can be combined for a complete guide to laundry.

As a general rule, shirts made of cotton, spandex, and polyester can be hand-washed or machine-washed while winter coats, suits, formal, and evening wear need to be dry-cleaned. Below are the five fabrics that need to be dry-cleaned.

1. Silk

Silk fabrics have strong, natural fibers that do not completely absorb dyes used to color it. Washing it with soap and water will not only cause it to lose its color, but it will also shrink and distort the fabric. Dry clean silk to ensure that its colors remain vibrant and its fabric protected from damage.

2. Wool

Wool fabric can be as durable as silk, if you do not dip it in water, which can cause it to shrink. Dry cleaning helps you avoid this risk and help your wool garments last a long time.

3. Suede

Suede is a special type of leather mainly from lambskin, cow, and goat hide. Suede is expensive but extremely difficult to maintain. It is sensitive to light, moisture, and water-based cleaners as well as chemical-based cleaners. Having the services of dry-cleaning professionals who are using non-toxic chemicals assures you that your suede are properly maintained and cared for.

4. Leather

Leather garment typically includes special care instruction that needs to be explicitly followed. Dry-cleaning leather should only be done to remove severe stains such as ink stains and oil spills.

5. Linen

Linen is a fabric derived from flax. It is quite strong, absorbent, and compared to cotton, it dries faster. You have a few options with linen. While this can be hand washed and air dried, it often requires ironing because its flax fibers are known to be better and fresh in hot weather. Unfortunately, if handled incorrectly, linen garments can lose their crispness and the overall quality may deteriorate. Dry cleaning is the most ideal for this fabric!

6. Rayon 

Are you familiar with rayon? This one’s a bit controversial because unlike the textiles mentioned above, this is semi-synthetic. Made from purified cellulose fibers with dye, it can bleed when washed in warm water. This will cause it to shrink and lose its shape. While hand washing in cold water using a mild detergent can be done, dry cleaning is the safest option.

7. Denim

Contrary to popular belief, denim cannot be put through a dryer. Though it is durable, proper jean care should include washing the fabric inside-out in cold water then hung it to dry. Most high-end denim, especially those that are in its purest form, will benefit more from dry cleaning.

When in doubt, ask the experts

There is no shortcut when it comes to caring and maintaining your garments made from sensitive fabrics and reading laundry tags can really be confusing, so it is best to ask for professional help on whether a piece of wardrobe really needs to be dry-cleaned or not. We, at Kelly’s Dry Cleaners, are knowledgeable and experienced in using dry cleaning solvents to avoid damaging your clothes. This way you will have the peace of mind that your garments will be well-cared for and last a long time. If you’re looking for Durango dry cleaners, call us at (970) 903-1642 or use our dry cleaning services in Farmington by calling (505) 564-3333.