Dry Cleaning vs. Washing at Home: What's Best for Your Garments?

Dry Cleaning vs. Washing at Home What's Best for Your Garments

We all want the best for our clothes - they must have the best longevity, retain their color, and maintain their integrity. However, the best cleaning method is not always straightforward: some clothes have tags that relay the optimal cleaning conditions, while others have no tags. 

Fortunately, general guidelines help us determine the best outcome for our garments. Silk, leather, cotton - you name it, we’re here to help. Here’s our expert insight into which cleaning method is best. 

Dry Cleaning vs. Washing at Home - Why it Matters

There are, of course, many factors that go into deciding whether to dry clean or wash at home. As for yourself, you likely consider things such as budget, eco-friendliness, and quality of wash, wanting the best solution for cleaning your clothes to last longer and look fantastic. You can wash some clothes in various ways, while others require a specific washing method. 

It’s challenging to keep track of all of these variables. As a rule of thumb, you can wash most types of clothing with either dry cleaning or a home washing machine; however, let's examine the more specific fibers on a case-by-case basis. 

Clothing That Should Be Dry Cleaned

Certain clothing fibers must be dry cleaned, or else they’ll become weaker, lose shape, or become damaged and lose color. Usually, these clothes will have a tag that identifies them as requiring dry cleaning, but in general, the following types of clothing fabrics must be dry cleaned: 


Unfortunately, wool does not work well with water, as it causes it to expand when wet and shrink again when drying - all of which forces the garment to lose shape. Dry cleaning helps overcome this risk and improves the longevity of your wool clothing. 


Silk fibers are strong and do not usually wholly absorb the colors used to dye them. For this reason, washing silk clothing at home is a bad idea because the water will cause distortions in the fabric, much like wool, and it will also lose its color over time. Dry cleaning silk guarantees that your garment will retain its initially intended vibrancy, keep its shape, and avoid potential damage. Make sure to utilize dry cleaning solvents that will not cause dyes to bleed or fade, as well as gentle solvents on delicate fabrics. 


Most people clean their denim at home with a standard washing machine and dryer. Even though it is very durable, denim gets significantly worn down over time from use in the dryer. High heat and quick drying cause jeans to lose their durability. You should clean them using cold water and air dry them instead, or even better, have them dry cleaned. 


Linen is a strong, fast-drying fabric made from flax, stronger and more absorbent than cotton. Washing linen at home can be slightly risky because, if done incorrectly, the linen garment can deteriorate in quality and lose its crispness. 

Hand washing linen in cold water and air drying is a better option, but dry cleaning is better still. 

Clothing That Should Not Be Dry Cleaned

Other fabric types should not be dry cleaned and will be better off being washed at home or through another method entirely. These include: 

Leather and Suede

Dry cleaning can strip these materials of their natural oils, leading to stiffness and cracking. Instead, Burke Cleaners offers specialized leather and suede cleaning services.

Decorated or Embellished Clothing

Dry cleaning may damage clothing with intricate beadwork, buttons, sequins, or glued-on decorations. The solvents used may dissolve adhesives or cause colors to bleed. Delicate or easily damaged buttons are usually better off being washed by hand. 

Special Trim, Rubber, or Latex

You must identify clothing items made with or containing trim with plastic, rubber, PVC, vinyl, and other synthetic materials, as dry cleaning solvents can degrade rubber and latex. Consult a cleaning specialist on a case-by-case basis to determine whether a garment is safe for dry cleaning. 


You can sometimes dry-clean this clothing fabric. Rayon is a semi-synthetic material that can be distorted or shrink depending on the manufacturing process. Before dry cleaning, verify with the manufacturer whether it is safe. 

Washing at Home 

As previously stated, you can wash many clothes at home or have them dry-cleaned. A common misconception is that dry cleaning causes more wear on clothes due to the solvent it uses; however, the opposite is true. Dry cleaning solvent has a lower viscosity (thickness) compared to water. Therefore, it passes through fabric more easily and without as much disturbance as water causes. 

In the long run, dry cleaning will maintain the longevity of your clothes, while washing clothes at home may cause them to have a shorter lifespan. Some individuals choose to dry clean all of their clothes, while others may choose to dry clean their nicest clothes only, but dry cleaning is undoubtedly one of the safest and most effective ways to wash almost all garments. 

Give Your Clothes the Best Clean Possible

Your best bet is always to check the care label on your clothing to determine the recommended cleaning method. If you need more clarification about whether a particular fabric should be dry cleaned, it's advisable to consult with a professional cleaner or contact the garment's manufacturer for guidance.
At Burke Cleaners, we have experience cleaning clothing of every type and guarantee to meet the highest professional standards in quality and service. If you or someone you know could use the help of an expert cleaning service, don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team today!

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