Top 9 Dry Cleaning Myths Debunked

Top 9 Dry Cleaning Myths Debunked

There are a lot of opinions about dry cleaning we’ve heard over the years - some good, others bad - and we figured it’s finally time to clear the air of the biggest misconceptions. While some dry cleaning myths may have been true a generation or two ago, and perhaps once upon a time, I believed them too, much has changed over the years. 

Let’s get back up to date with what is correct and what is simply a myth. Here are our top 9 debunked dry cleaning myths! 

1. Dry Cleaning is ‘Dry’

Even though the name is ‘dry’ cleaning, clothes are not actually dry while being cleaned! The real reason it’s called dry cleaning is because instead of water, a chemical solvent with lower viscosity (thickness) than water is utilized during the process. This solvent is incredibly effective at removing grease stains while still being gentle to the underlying fibers of clothing. 

2. Dry Cleaning Wears Out Clothes

Some people think dry cleaning is harsh and wears out clothing over time. The truth is actually the opposite. Dry cleaning will preserve clothes longer than a regular washing machine can, once again, due to the solvent having a lower viscosity than water. The cleaning solvent passes through clothing fibers more seamlessly (pun intended) and delicately than when washing clothes with water and detergent. Wool and silk, for example, tend to swell when in contact with water and shrink again when they dry, causing stress on the fibers. 

3. Dry Cleaning is Expensive 

Just because a business takes care of dry cleaning rather than being done at home doesn’t mean it’s more expensive. When considering the long-term preservation of clothes through dry cleaning, clothes need to be replaced less. They will offset the slightly higher cost of dry cleaning compared to the local grocery store’s detergent. Some individuals dry clean all of their clothes while others may just dry clean the nicest clothes they want to preserve; dry cleaning is, fortunately, able to adapt to any budget and whatever you may need it for.

4. It’s Okay to Store Clothes in Plastic Covers

Plastic bags are used after dry cleaning to protect clothes and ensure they get home without any blemishes. They should not, unfortunately, be used to store clothes for long periods. Otherwise, the plastic bag could trap humidity and allow stains to oxidize, making them harder to clean in the future. 

We recommend removing your clothes from the plastic bags as soon as you’re home, allowing them to breathe. 

5. Carbonated Water Works As Well As Dry Cleaning

Contrary to popular folklore that carbonated water or club soda can remove stains as well as dry cleaning, the reality is very much the opposite. Carbonated water can remove stains but tends to cause more damage than good. 

Instead, it’s recommended that you dab the stain with a white napkin and bring it to a dry cleaner immediately. Inform the dry cleaner of the stain and what caused it to have the best chance for your clothing to return to normal. 

6. ‘Dry-Clean-Only’ Clothes are the Only Clothes That Should be Taken to the Cleaners

Certain clothes (you probably have a few) contain special tags that inform the owner that they need to be dry cleaned only and should not be cleaned in a regular washing machine. For some reason, many people have taken this to mean that those specially tagged clothes are the only clothes that can be dry cleaned or the only ones that should be brought to a cleaner! The opposite is true. Most clothes can be dry cleaned, and all can be taken to a cleaner. 

7. Dry Cleaning Prices Depend on the Garment’s Gender

A common misconception is that cleaners charge based on whether a garment is for a man or a woman. Most dry cleaners will base their prices on whether the clothes fit on the pressing machine or need to be hand-finished instead. Other variables will also affect the price, including irregular sizes or cuts, special fabric, ruffles, pleats, and buttons. 

8. Dry Cleaning Leaves an Odor

A dry cleaning job well done should never result in clothes that smell like solvents or chemicals. If this has happened to you, it’s because the dry cleaning solvent was not wholly removed, and it’s probably time to find a new cleaner. 

Similarly, a lingering musty smell or a foul odor might mean a cleaner is not using a clean solvent. Sweat, oils, and dirt in the fibers of your clothes are only redeposited rather than cleaned off. A good cleaner will use fresh cleaner and allow enough time for the solvent to be removed; the result should be a thorough, high-quality clean. 

9. Dry Cleaning Uses Harmful Products 

At first, you might think that water-based washing is more eco-friendly than dry cleaning, but the real consideration is whether the solvents used in dry cleaning are cleaner than the detergent used in water-based washing. Dry cleaning solvents are usually non-toxic and are often considered a greener alternative to detergent fluids; furthermore, dry cleaning is completed without water and thus has a lower footprint on vital resources. 

Burke Cleaners has taken environmental-friendliness to the next level. We received our Green Cleaner Certificate from the Green Cleaners Council not only for using a safer hydrocarbon solvent in our dry cleaning process but also for distributing reusable VIP bags to lessen the amount of plastic in our landfills, using poly when necessary that is degradable, recycling hangers, utilizing GPS technology to reduce mileage thus reducing emissions, and changing all of our stores to energy-efficient lighting.

The Bottom Line

Dry cleaning is among the most popular methods for cleaning clothes for a reason. For hundreds of years, dry cleaning has proved to be an effective and efficient way to clean clothes while incurring minimal wear on the clothes themselves. 

Our goal has been to help clear the air on all the most significant dry cleaning myths out there - if you want to ensure longevity for your clothes and the best clean possible, don’t hesitate to contact the expert team at Burke Cleaners today!

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