Dry Clean Vs. Laundered – 10 Big Differences You Should Know

There is a famous saying that “You are addressed the way you dress.” This statement is very true when it comes to the type of clothes and accessories that you put on and how clean those clothes are. Stains are inevitable, no matter how careful you are, you are bound to find a stain or two on your clothes, either sweat stains or dust particles.

Two major cleaning methods are employed in the removal of stains, which we encounter daily, such as grease, oil, dirt, and other spots that make our clothes dirty, and they are dry cleaning and laundering. When these methods are used correctly, they can prove to be very efficient in removing stains, including sweat marks on your clothes.

However, these cleaning methods are often assumed to be the same. Certain fabrics are meant to be dry cleaned “only.” On the other hand, most fabrics are much better off laundered. Sadly, though, a lot of fabrics have been badly damaged as a result of not understanding the clear difference between these two cleaning methods.

This, therefore, gives rise to the million-dollar question, ” What is the difference between dry cleaning and laundering?” This article seeks to give satisfying answers to this question and many others. However, before we go further, let us take a closer look at what these methods mean and the processes involved in these two cleaning methods.

Dry Clean Vs. Laundered – What is Dry Cleaning?

Dry Cleaning refers to a method of removing stains, grease, and dirt from fabrics without actually using water as a solvent; hence, the word “dry.”

The name came about, not because it is a completely dry process but because this method of cleaning fabrics involves the use of certain chemicals that have the properties of removing stains found on fabrics. It is a method that is best suited for cleaning delicate fabrics that either degrade in water or becomes badly damaged by the tumble of a washing machine.

The chemicals used in the dry cleaning process includes solvents ranging from petroleum or hydrocarbons, liquified Carbon Dioxide, Silicon or Decamethylcyclopentasiloxane, which is commonly known as D5, to the new and organic Solvon K4 and the most popular of them all, Tetrachloroethylene or Perchloroethylene, which is commonly known as ” Perc” in the industry.

Dry Cleaning services are not commonly done at home as a result of the large and expensive machines that are required for the process. Dry Cleaning services are often rendered by professionals who have both the expertise in handling tough stains and the machinery needed to give your fabrics the best treatment and cleaning it needs. The choice of solvent to be used in dry cleaning services can vary greatly based on the dry cleaning company you take your fabrics to.

Once you drop off your dirty fabrics at a dry cleaning facility, the very first thing that the dry cleaner does is to inspect the fabrics for any stains to give it the needed pre-treatment. It is at this point that it will be especially important for you to tell the dry cleaner the actual cause of a particular stain so that it can be treated the right way.

The fabrics will then be treated with stain removers, which are designed for a specific type of stain, to efficiently remove the stains from the fabric. After this is done, the fabrics are loaded into the dry cleaning machine, where it is immersed in the chemical solvent that does the cleaning.

Immediately after the cleaning process is finished, the fabrics are moved to the dryer, which dries them out completely. The clothes are thereafter steamed or pressed to remove wrinkles, then packaged in plastic bags to stave off any other stain before you pick it up.

This is basically a rundown of the processes involved in dry cleaning services. However, there are certain fabrics that should not be dry cleaned, irrespective of what the label says. This now brings us to the next cleaning method: laundering.

Dry Clean Vs. Laundered – What is Laundering?

Laundry refers to the traditional method of cleaning dirty fabrics. This method involves completely immersing the fabrics in water, as a solvent, with the addition of various cleaning agents such as detergents, soaps, and more. This method of cleaning fabrics is more commonly done by handwashing.

However, in recent years, the use of washing machines has greatly risen to popularity, and it is gradually over-shadowing the conventional handwashing process utilized in laundry services. The fabrics are first sorted out and inspected to identify the type of stains on them and to give them the right treatment. Next, they are put into the washing machine with an adequate quantity of detergent or soap needed for the washing process.

The machine is then set to spin at a time and temperature that is high enough to break the attraction between the stains and the fabric, lifting it off the surface of the fabric. Once the cleaning process is complete, the fabrics will then be tumble dried and spun continuously to squeeze out the excess water on it. The fabrics can then be hung under direct sunlight to enable it to dry completely.

At times, some people who live fast-paced corporate life and do not have enough time to do their laundry, take these fabrics to professional cleaners for outstanding laundry services. As implied by their names, these professional cleaners are trained to carry out laundry services better.

In addition to the detergent or soap that is added to the water used for laundry, these professional cleaners can also use bleach or softeners to help in the removal of stains, and some other additives such as perfume, to give the fabrics a pleasant scent. They also follow the same procedures that are being applied to using the washing machine in your home. When the fabrics are completely dried, they are ironed and folded for collection.

Now that we have seen the different processes involved in both dry cleaning services and laundry services let us examine some of the big differences that exist between these two methods of cleaning fabrics.

Dry Clean Vs. Laundered – 10 Big Differences You Should Know

As much as dry cleaning and laundry are both methods employed in the cleaning of fabrics, there are some notable differences between them. Some of these differences include:

1. The Solvent Materials Used In The Process:

This is the biggest difference between dry cleaning services and laundry services. Dry Cleaning utilizes various chemical solvents, with the most commonly used solvent being Perc, to remove stains from fabrics. The use of these chemical solvents proves to be very effective in removing even the toughest stains from fabric.

On the other hand, laundry services involve the use of water as a solvent, as well as some cleaning agents such as detergents, soaps, and bleach to remove stains. This method, although being the easiest and most commonly used method of cleaning fabrics, is sometimes still not able to remove some tough stains.

Most fabrics are often sent to dry cleaning facilities once they are inspected, and there are certain stains found on them that can not be removed by just being laundered.

2. Energy Consumption:

The process of dry cleaning is a cleaning method that consumes a very high amount of energy. Dry Cleaning services make use of even more energy per kilogram of dirty fabrics to be washed when compared to conventional laundry services.

The Laundering process, on the other hand, is very energy efficient since it does not consume as much energy as required in the dry cleaning process. According to statistics, this method of cleaning fabrics actually uses about 50% less energy than what is used up during dry cleaning.

3. Affordability Of The Two Cleaning Methods:

Dry Cleaning is often considered to be a more effective method of removing stains from fabrics, and this makes it more expensive. The cost of having your clothes dry cleaned is very high when compared to having them laundered.

The main reason for this big difference in the cost lies in the materials used during the cleaning process. The cost of buying the dry cleaning machines and the chemical solvents that are used in the process is significantly higher than the costs involved in laundering.

The materials that are utilized in the laundering of clothes, namely, soap, detergents, and bleach, do not cost as much as the materials used in dry cleaning, thereby reducing the expenses.

4. Longevity Of The Fabrics Being Washed:

Using dry cleaning services tend to increase the longevity of fabrics. This is because there are certain fabrics that are very sensitive to water.  Therefore, using water as a solvent, to wash them will extremely reduce their durability. Dry Cleaning helps to prevent these fabrics from fading.

Clothes that are often laundered have a high tendency to fade very fast. This is mainly due to the constant strain on the fabric and the actions of some of these cleaning agents, including bleach and detergents, which wears out the fabric after it has been washed a couple of times.

5. Drying Methods Employed:

Dry Cleaning services remove excess water from the washed fabrics using a dryer that can also be found in the dry cleaning machine. This method of drying ensures that the fabrics are evenly dried without any traces of moisture in them. The fabrics are also steamed or pressed to remove any wrinkles that were not eliminated in the drying process.

Laundered fabrics, however, are dried using direct sunlight. The effects of the Ultra Violet rays (UV rays) on these fabrics tend to make the colors fade very quickly.

6. Maintenance Of The Shape And Texture Of Fabrics:

Dry Cleaning helps to maintain some of the qualities that the fabrics being cleaned has, including the shape, size, and texture. The dry cleaning process does not shrink the fabrics, and it also maintains the texture of the fabrics even after they have been dried.

However, the chances of finding your fabrics becoming smaller in size, shrunk, and crumpled, is relatively high in the laundering process. Most fabrics can not withstand the strain and tousle involved in laundry services. As a result, they drastically reduce in size and lose their shape.

7. Time Consumption:

In terms of speed, the dry cleaning process is not as time-consuming as laundry services. The various processes that are involved in dry cleaning services, from the washing of the fabrics to the drying, and steaming or pressing of the fabrics, are all carried out with the help of machines. This mechanical support helps to significantly speed up the cleaning process.

On the other hand, laundering fabrics consumes a lot of time, especially when using the conventional hand-washing method. Yet, even when the cleaning is done using a washing machine, some of the processes are manual, such as the drying process, and this consumes a lot of time.

8. Health And Environmental Concerns:

This is another major difference between these two cleaning methods. The chemicals that are used in the dry cleaning process are very toxic to humans, animals, and plants as well. Studies have shown that the commonly used solvent for dry cleaning, Perc, is Carcinogenic to human beings.

This implies that it can cause several types of cancer, including esophageal, bladder, cervical, and in some cases, breast cancer. Additionally, it can cause dizziness, mild memory loss, loss of coordination, and blistering of the skin, to people who often dry clean their clothes. The petroleum or hydrocarbon solvents are also not left out as they have flammable properties, which can quickly set the fabrics ablaze.

Contrastingly, laundry services are quite environmentally friendly. They have no hazardous health and environmental effects when used.

9. Recycling Of Solvents:

The solvents used in the dry cleaning process are constantly recycled. After a load of fabrics have been washed, the solvents are transported to a filter that helps to remove impurities from the solvent so that it can be reused again.

This is not the case with laundering. You can never make use of the soapy water that you used to wash a handful of dirty fabrics to wash another set of fabrics.

10. Fabrics To Be Washed:

Dry Cleaning is employed in washing a lot of fabrics. Many of these fabrics are delicate and require special care and attention to be given to them. Fabrics like silk, velvet, acetate, taffeta, and wool are often better off dry cleaned. Using water on these fabrics tends to damage them badly.

On the other hand, there are just a limited number of fabrics that are to be washed using laundry services, such as Cashmere, linen, acrylic, cotton, and nylon.

Now that we have seen some of the differences that exist between dry cleaning services and laundry services, which of these cleaning methods is better?

Dry Clean Vs. Laundered – Which is better?

The choice of a cleaning method to use in removing stains from your fabric is based solely on your personal preferences and the type of material that you are cleaning. However, you can choose between these two cleaning methods by taking a look at their pros and cons.

Dry CleaningPros

Below are some of the pros of using the dry cleaning method to remove stains from your fabrics.

  • Dry Cleaning effectively removes tough stains, such as oil and grease, that cannot be removed by water.
  • It is very effective in prolonging the quality of the fabrics being washed.
  • It helps to retain some of the desirable attributes of the fabric, such as texture and color.
  • It does not cause the fabric to shrink or crumble.
  • It prevents color bleeding, which is very noticeable in the laundering of fabrics with different colors.
Dry CleaningCons

These are some of the disadvantages of using the dry cleaning method to clean fabrics. They include:

  • It is a very expensive method of cleaning fabrics.
  • The chemicals used in dry cleaning are not conducive for humans, animals, and plants as well.
  • It leaves the odor of the chemicals used in the process on the fabric.
  • A lot of energy is consumed during the cleaning process.

More recently, there have been several innovations that are seeking to oust the use of Perc as a solvent in the dry cleaning process due to the health and environmental hazards it poses. One of such innovations is Solvon K4, a 99 percent halogen-free organic solvent with outstanding cleaning performance. It has the ability to absorb and dissolve both greasy or oily stains and water-soluble stains.

Once this solvent becomes widely used, it will eliminate some of the hazards that are most commonly associated with the use of chemicals like Perc, petroleum or hydrocarbons, and many others.


Below are some of the benefits you can derive from laundering your fabrics.

  • Laundering is a cheaper method of cleaning fabrics.
  • No hazardous chemicals are used during the cleaning process.
  • It consumes a little amount of energy during the process, up to 50 percent less energy than the dry cleaning process.
  • The softeners that are added to the fabrics while cleaning gives them a sweet and long-lasting scent.
Laundering Cons

Despite the huge benefits you can derive from laundering your fabrics, there are still some flaws that this cleaning method has. They include:

  • This method is not suitable for removing extremely tough stains on the fabric, such as grease, and deep oil stains.
  • It is known for shrinking and crumbling fabrics.
  • Constant laundering of fabrics tends to make the colors fade.

The Difference Between Dry Cleaning and Pressing

There are several other misconceptions that are popular when it comes to the cleaning of fabrics. One of them is pressing. What is pressing, and what difference exists between pressing and dry cleaning? First, let us find out what pressing is.

 What Is Pressing

Pressing, which is also known as Finishing, is the process of taking clean clothes, either laundered or dry cleaned and pressing the wrinkles that are on the surface of the clothes out as well as reshaping the garment to its original form to give it a crisp look.

Pressing is usually carried out using specialized equipment that is often designed with a particular type of fabric in mind. There are pressing equipment ranging from shirt press used for pressing shirts, pant press used for pressing pants or trousers, collar and cuff press, and utility press that is used for some non-standardized clothing items such as women’s blouses.

Once the pressing process is complete, the fabrics are then hung vertically to prevent it from wrinkling further.

Difference between pressing and dry cleaning 

The main difference between pressing and dry cleaning lies in the fact that dry cleaning is a cleaning method aimed at removing stains from fabrics using chemical solvents, other than water whereas pressing is a finishing process that is utilized to remove wrinkles from fabrics.

Pressing is one of the skills involved in the dry cleaning process, and it is often done after the fabrics have been dry cleaned and dried. Most times, though, a number of people press fabrics that have not been washed just to remove wrinkles on it. However, this just makes the stain removal process even tougher and almost impossible.

It will be very unrealistic for you to think that your fabrics will not get dirty irrespective of how careful and organized you may be. The most important thing to do is to learn about the cleaning methods, the type of fabrics you have, and the time factor.

Taking proper care of your fabrics is very important if you want them to last. Different fabrics require different ways to care for them, and doing things the right way will not only prolong their life but also make them look their best. Endeavor to follow these tips and see your fabrics last you a lifetime.