Everyone will be familiar with washing (in water) but less familiar with what happens at the dry cleaners.
Dry cleaning is the use of organic solvents to remove soil and stains from fabric. It is called dry cleaning because the process contains little or no water. When washed in water, natural fibers such as wool and silk can shrink, distort and even lose color. Because the dry cleaning process does not swell the fibers, these problems are unlikely to occur.
Dry cleaning solvents actually dissolve and remove grease and oil stains. Water by itself cannot do this.
Other stains require specialized treatment, known as spotting to remove them. Whilst many can be removed quickly with steam, others require a high level of professional skill and expertise from the cleaner.
Dry cleaning does not cause creasing or distortion, neither does it remove unwanted creases or restore the loss of shape caused by wear. The skilled dry cleaner, by steam pressing, will be able to re-shape the garment, replace the required creases and eliminate unwanted wrinkles.
The term ‘dry cleaning’ is generally understood to cover the whole process of cleaning in solvent, spotting and pressing, carried out in sequence.
Even the most professional cleaner is not able to:
- Remove years of ingrained dirt and grime. Frequent cleaning will eliminate this problem.
- Remove all stains. The nature and age of the stain, plus the colour and construction of the fabric, sometimes make stain removal impossible.
- Recover worn or torn areas. In some cases, small holes can be rewoven, but this is the owner’s responsibility.
- Prevent holes, caused by insects or acid spillage. Such holes may not appear before drycleaning, but they result from previous weakening of the fibres. Once again, small holes may be re-woven.
- Remove shine, caused by excessive heat and pressure used in home ironing.
- Correct the effect of poor home stain removal, such as excessive rubbing.