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Is Dry Cleaning More Hygienic Than Washing?

Is Dry Cleaning More Hygienic Than Washing?

If you frequently outsource someone to take care of your wardrobe, you must wonder whether dry cleaning your clothes is better than traditional laundry. One can employ both methods to remove clothes’ stains, germs, and foul odours. However, these methods are suitable for certain types of clothes and have pros and cons.

So which one is superior? Dry cleaning or washing. Let’s find out together!

Traditional Washing vs Dry Cleaning

As said above, washing and dry cleaning are the two excellent ways to take care of your wardrobe, but they differ in primarily 4 ways. These are:

  1. The primary solvent they use
  2. Their drying method
  3. The general process
  4. Stain removal

Without any delay, let’s jump straight into their details:

  1. The Main Solvent

Traditional washing uses water as the primary solvent to dissolve detergents that clean your clothes. In contrast, a dry cleaning company employs Perchloroethylene (PERC) or liquid Carbon Dioxide (CO2). That’s why it’s called dry cleaning, as no water is involved.

  1. Drying Method

As both methods require solvents, you need to dry your clothes, whether you wash or dry clean them. In case of washing, you must hang them in an open environment to dry or put them in the dryer. For dry cleaning, a dry cleaning service has special machines that dry the dry-cleaned clothes.

The General Process
  1. The General Process

In wet washing, the fabric is typically pre-washed in water to partially remove dirt before being submerged in water with detergent or soap. To remove any remaining filth, hand wash or use the appropriate setting on your washing machine. They next go through drying and rinsing. To finish, iron the fabric to get rid of wrinkles and creases. Sometimes it’s necessary to remove the stain before pre-rinsing stained fabrics.

On the other hand, fabrics intended for dry cleaning are treated with solvents to eliminate stains, grease, and filth. Afterwards, they go through a “wash” and tumble cycle before being recycled, filtered, and solvent-free. Then, they are machine-dried, and wrinkles and creases are removed by steaming or ironing.

  1. Stain Removal

Washing works best for organic stains like urine, mildew, sweat, food colouring, and liquids like tea and coffee. It should go without saying that this method is the one to use for everyday or general stains. Water is a universal solvent; thus, it can remove most stains, which explains why.

According to fundamental science, water does not combine with oil, whereas chemicals react with certain chemicals based on their affinities. Consequently, dry cleaning is advised for chemical stains like ink and oil- or grease-based stains.

Pros & Cons of Washing & Drying

You may have already noticed the advantages and disadvantages of traditional washing vs dry cleaning from the critical differences between the two. Here are each approach’s main benefits and drawbacks to help you make a more informed decision.

Benefits of Washing

Given below are some of the adv advantages of washing your fabrics:

  1. Less Expensive

Washing your clothes yourself or hiring professional laundry cleaners is less expensive than dry cleaning. It’s because dry cleaning requires special solvents, both organic and inorganic. For washing, you need water as the primary solvent and detergents.

  1. More Energy Efficient

Wet washing is energy efficient, even with all the machines you use, including a washer, spinner, and dryer. However, a dry cleaning company has bigger machines requiring more energy.

  1. Suitable for A Variety of Fabrics

Thanks to the older washing method, you may safely wash various fabric kinds, including cotton, linen, polyester, and nylon. These materials are undoubtedly used to create necessities like bed sheets, pillowcases, and clothing.

  1. Safer Cleaning Products

Water is an all-purpose solvent. There are no dangerous compounds present that could affect most fabrics. Although only at a safe level, certain tap water supplies may have undergone pre-chlorination.

The components used to make softer, non-toxic, biodegradable detergents and soaps are available in powder and liquid forms. Furthermore, even when a particular amount of chemical is introduced, water is used to dilute the product.

Better Smelling Fabric
  1. Better-Smelling Fabric

Wet-washed clothes have a pleasant odour due to the fabric softeners used in the last step of rinsing. The soaps and detergents also leave their smell, leaving behind a pleasant aroma in your clothes.

Drawbacks of Washing

Traditional laundry cleaning has its disadvantages as well, which are given below:

  1. Colour Fading

Fabric washing involves friction through agitation or between the object and your hands. This friction can cause the fabric’s colour to be extracted. You must choose the proper water and drying temperatures because some coloured materials are also heat-sensitive. The same is true for fading brought on by sunlight.

  1. Fabric Stretching

Fabric stretches when it is wet from washing because of the saturation. Stretching can also result after spinning and tumble drying because some fibres are damaged or loose.

On the other hand, one of the main reasons for fabric shrinking is prolonged exposure to the dryer’s heated temperature. The item could stretch out if you choose to hang it to dry. You will therefore have uncomfortable bed linens, pillowcases, and clothing in any situation.

Benefits of Dry Cleaning

Here are some benefits of dry cleaning that make it worth considering:

  1. Protect Sensitive Fabric

When exposed to water, some fabric materials, usually the more expensive ones, are susceptible to damage. Some of them can be hand washed. However, water will reduce their lifespan. It is, therefore, advisable to send them to a professional dry cleaning company, regardless of whether they are dry-clean-only or can be washed and dry-cleaned.

  1. Perfect for Fabric With Embellishments

Embroidery, sequins, and pearl embellishments can all be ruined by water and washers. You may find one or two missing pieces once you remove them from the washer or dryer because they are separated from the cloth.

Professional dry cleaners have experience handling these decorations. They ensure that such components are shielded from harm or separation.

  1. Reduce Fabric Distortion & Discolouration

Unlike washing, dry cleaning won’t agitate and saturate the fabric materials with water while subjecting them to friction and agitation. As a result, there is minor colour fading, fabric swelling, and shrinking.

Softer & Crisper Fabric
  1. Softer & Crisper Fabric

Everything that has been dry-cleaned will be softer than anything that has been washed in water. Thanks to the final step of the process, they also have virtually no wrinkles or creases.

Drawbacks of Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning has some issues, which are explained below:

  1. Distinct Chemical Odour

As previously said, dry cleaning utilises chemical-based solvents, which can leave a distinct odour. Yet, there is little to no chemical odour when using higher-quality solvents.

  1. Can Cause Skin Irritation

Those with sensitive skin may have skin rashes or allergies due to using chemical solvents. Still, thanks to improved technology, milder varieties of chemical solvents are now produced.

May Be Hazardous to the Environment
  1. May Be Hazardous to the Environment

Without question, chemicals are bad for the environment. It has been demonstrated that the original and first solvent used in dry cleaning—PERC, or perchloroethylene—contaminates water, soil, and air. But remember that eco-friendly solvents are now readily available and used by most dry cleaning businesses.


It should be clear now that both methods clean your clothes and remove unnecessary objects. However, both have pros and cons; therefore, it depends on you to make the final decision.

But always remember to follow the manufacturer’s care instructions since they will specify the best approach. If in doubt, it would be preferable to consult a professional dry cleaning service or have a professional clean your fabric-made things.

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