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What Is The Difference Between Laundry And Dry Cleaning?

What is the difference between laundry and dry cleaning? Should you spend the extra money to have your clothing laundered or dry cleaned?

It all depends! How is that for a useless answer.

Really, though, choosing between dry cleaning and laundering is all about the fabric type and end result you want.

Properly cared for clothing is a great way to make a first impression.

Clothing that has been laundered correctly will retain color, shape, and fit significantly longer than poorly cared for clothing.

However, dry cleaning and laundering can get expensive, so knowing the difference can save you time, money, and help you turn heads with a sharp-looking outfit.

Dry Cleaning VS. Laundry

The main difference between dry cleaning and laundering is water. Laundering uses water while dry cleaning does not.

Dry Cleaners use chemicals to remove stains and clean your clothing and laundering uses gentler soaps and detergents.

When you drop off your clothing with a professional cleaner our dirty clothing is manually inspected and pretreated for stains.  Then it is dry cleaned or laundered depending on your preference of the fabric.

When using a professional cleaner your clothing is returned clean, pressed, and ready to go.

Dry Cleaning:

Pros of Dry Cleaning:

• Increases the life cycle of your clothing
• Lack of water typically means less color bleeding, shrinking and fabric distortion
• Dry cleaning chemicals are better at removing oil and grease-based stains
• Clothing is stemmed (who want to iron!)
• Ideal for fabrics made of natural fibers like silk and wool.

Negatives of Dry Cleaning:

• Dry Cleaning solvents can be extremely toxic; May dry cleaners are switching to more environmentally friendly products, but not all have done so.
• Chemicals can stain clothing
• Chemicals may leave odors on clothing


Pros of Laundering

• More Energy-efficient then dry cleaning
• Less harmful chemicals
• No chemical odors
• Clothing is pressed (who wants to iron!)
• Ideal for removing water-soluble stains like body odor, food, and dirt and is typically the best choice for dress shirts and cotton blouses.

Negatives of Laundering

• May not remove all stains
• Increased possibilities for color bleeding, shrinkage or fabric distortion

As you can see there are a variety of pros and cons to dry cleaning vs laundry. Typically the final answer as to which method to use comes down to fabric/type of clothing.

Dry cleaning is best for the following:

• Wool & Cotton Suits
• Wool & Cashmere Sweater
• Leather
• Silk
• Fancy/expensive clothing that is worn infrequently and labeled for dry cleaning

Best Fabrics for Laundering

• Cotton Dress Shirts
• Clothing with extensive staining
• Nicer clothing that you would like to extend the life of.

Depending on your lifestyle the vast majority of your clothing can be laundered at home. Most people do their own laundry for socks, jeans, underwear, athletic clothing and t-shirts.

Typically only nice/business clothing is taken to be dry cleaned or laundered.

If you are concerned about the cost of dry cleaning, you can try a home dry cleaning kit.

Home dry-cleaning kits use your dryer to steam the clothing.

I wouldn’t use it on crazy expensive clothing but have used them on silk blouses, cashmere sweaters, and dry clean only dresses without issues.

They come with a stain remover and dryer sheet. You pretreat any stains and then toss the clothing in the dryer with the dryer sheet, it takes 15-30 minutes.

I’ll typically dry clean my own clothing 2-3 times and then take it to the regular dry cleaner and then repeat the process.

I’ve found it to be a very cost-effective way of taking care of my nice work clothing.