Dry Cleaning refers to the cleaning of clothes without the use of water. Special liquid-based cleaning solvents are used to remove the dirt and grime from clothes. Dry cleaning takes place in a purpose-built dry cleaning machine – the machine looks similar to that of a domestic front-loading water-based washing machine. The main difference is that instead of water, cleaning solvents are used

In a normal wet wash, the three elements that clean the clothes are soap, water and agitation. In the case of dry cleaning, the two elements that clean the clothes are the cleaning solvents and heat – agitation is minimized and hence is the preferred cleaning choice for delicates. Even though water is not used in dry cleaning, fluids in the form of cleaning solvents are still used, and therefore, the dry cleaning process also includes a drying process that uses heat. The drying process removes the remaining fumes of the solvents from the clothes. A dry cleaning cycle can take anything from 15 minutes to just under an hour.

Dry cleaning technology is another method of laundering. The main reason for its popularity is because not all fabrics react well to water-based cleaning and agitation – some lose its colour, while others lose its shape. This is why dry cleaning is almost always recommended for fabrics such as wool – knits, sweaters, wool coats and jackets. Comforters made of feathers or down, and leather or suede jackets are also items that should always be dry cleaned.

Dry cleaning is recommended for delicate fabrics such as silk, cashmere, satin, chiffon, taffeta, linen and viscose to retain its colour and shape. This is especially so if these fabrics are dyed in darker colours. Clothes with metallic detailing, sequins, beads, elaborate embroidery, such as those found commonly on ladies’ cocktail and dinner dresses, can also benefit from dry cleaning as water could cause damage to delicate detailing. Dry-cleaning is also recommended for clothes that are difficult to press or iron after water-based cleaning, such as suit jackets and winter coats, men’s neckties and ethnic outfits such as pure silk saris and baju kurongs with elaborate embroidery.

Do bear in mind that delicate fabrics, such as silk, if dry-cleaned on weekly basis, can still lose its colour and shape in the long run due to the wearing of the threads and fabric caused by the heat element in the dry cleaning process. To lengthen the time between dry cleanings, you can request for spot-cleaning instead. Airing out items between wears can also help keep your dry-clean only clothes.