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Dry Cleaning Secrets Revealed: At-home Professional Dry Cleaning

Oct 7, 2007
Many people have an issue with the price of professional dry cleaning. This fact alone has led many to seek out different, less expensive methods such as home dry cleaning treatments. While they provide a cheaper alternative to professional dry cleaning, many remain skeptical as to how effective they really are.

The Process

Regardless of its name, dry cleaning uses perchloroethylene to remove soil and stains from fabric. It is able to dissolve greases and oils and prevents shrinkage, loss of color, and fabric distortion. The process begins with the pretreatment of spots and stains using special cleaning agents. The garments are then loaded into a machine and washed with perchloroethylene, then pressed and packaged.

Two types of home dry cleaning products exist: with a dryer bag (i.e. Dryel) and without a dryer bag (i.e. Dry Cleaner's Secret). Both processes begin with removing spots with the provided spot remover before either placing the garments into either the dryer bag or directly into the dryer along with the cleaning cloth, depending on the product. When the garments come out of the dryer they are wrinkle-free and typically require no other treatment.

Benefits and Drawbacks

Professional dry cleaning has obvious benefits, obvious drawbacks, and less obvious drawbacks that need to be brought to light.

When you bring your clothes to a professional dry cleaner, you can typically expect nothing less than perfect. Your clothes will most likely be clean and stain-free, and all the wrinkles pressed out. The entire process is more precise and thorough than the alternative at-home dry cleaning methods. You get what you pay for. Speaking of which, the cost of professional dry cleaning is a major drawback. It's expensive, with prices ranging from nearly four dollars to over twenty dollars, depending on the size of the garment, the fabric and the amount of treatment needed.

A little known fact about the process of professional dry cleaning is that the chemical perchloroethylene poses health risks to both the people handling the garments while they are being cleaned, and the customers who wear the clothes afterward.

Home dry-cleaning is a cheaper alternative. It costs less than fifty cents per garment to dry clean at home if everything is done correctly. It also freshens and removes wrinkles in one simple process without the use of harmful chemicals. The biggest drawback is that home dry cleaning kits cannot remove stains that are larger than a dime and sometimes need to be touched-up after the first cycle.

The Verdict

The truth of the matter is that deciding between professional dry cleaning and home dry cleaning is a matter preference, budget, and necessity. If you have heavy or large stains, professionals can do the best job, but if you know that your local dry cleaner uses chemicals that may be harmful to your health then you might want to avoid using their service. If you have smaller stains or simply need to refresh a piece of clothing, then home dry cleaning is your best bet.

~Ben Anton
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