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Dry Cleaning – What is it and When Do I Need it?

Dry cleaning is a professional cleaning service which can come in handy with your family's delicate fabrics or smart suits. Dry cleaning usually happens out of sight at the dry cleaners, so Matic Mums may be unsure of what's involved in the process. If you want to know more about the dry cleaning process and whether you really need to use it, read on for a guide from Surf excel of how dry cleaning works.

What is Dry Cleaning?

The reason this process is called ‘dry cleaning’ is because no water is used in the process. However, dry cleaning is not technically 'dry'. When you take your clothes to the dry cleaners, they will first pre-treat any stains with a chemical agent, very similar to how you treat stains before washing at home.

After this, the garments are placed in a machine that looks a lot like a front-loading washer, complete with mechanisms which rotate and move the clothes around in a similar way. A liquid solvent such as perchloroethylene is sprayed all over the clothes as they are agitated. The clothes are then dried in the same machine.

Some dry cleaners may then move on to the 'post-spotting' stage, which aims to tackle any remaining stains on the clothing. The assistant will usually use a combination of steam, vacuum, and chemical equipment to do this. The final or 'finishing' stage is when your garments are ironed and folded before being wrapped in plastic to protect them from dirt.

When Do I Need to Use the Dry Cleaners?

It’s best to check the labels on your family’s clothing before deciding to wash or dry clean anything. If any of the labels say 'dry clean only', then it's always safer to dry clean these garments – you don’t want to damage them!

Typical items that may be marked as ‘dry clean only’ include the following:

  • Suits
  • Sarees with embroidery or beading work
  • Silk Sarees
  • Woolens

Can I Wash Items Labelled ‘Dry Clean’?

However, if the label has simply 'dry clean' on it, this means that the manufacturer recommends the dry cleaning process, but this is not necessarily the only way to clean the garment. In this case, you may consider a gentle machine wash with Surf excel Matic. However, it's important to be careful with these fabrics, as it's likely that they will be delicate.

Here’s how you can wash items marked ‘dry clean’ at home:

  • Wash only in cool water with your Surf excel Matic detergent.
  • Use your machine’s gentle or delicates cycle.
  • When machine-washing, place the clothes in a net bag to protect them from snagging.
  • Air-dry the item to avoid shrinking.
  • In all cases, if you're unsure or if the item is lined or structured, like a jacket, it's best to play safe and take it to the dry cleaners.

Can I Dry Clean at Home?

Do-it-yourself dry cleaning kits are available from household stores and may be worth considering as a cheaper option to regular dry cleaning services, as they can be re-used up to 25 times. These kits contain a pre-treatment 'spotter' that you apply to any stains beforehand, along with a dry clean pad that contains the same chemicals used at the dry cleaners.

This is placed into your tumble dryer at home, cleaning and deodorising the garment. Clothes come out smelling fresh and should not need ironing.

However, these kits are not always 100% effective on oil-based stains, so if your clothing is heavily soiled, the dry cleaners may be preferable. For more information, check our article about dry cleaning at home