What Is The Difference Between Laundry And Dry Cleaning? (Updated)

What is the difference between laundry and dry cleaning? Many people do not understand the difference between dry cleaning and laundry cleaning, and most of them are very confused about the method of cleaning they are going to use between the two.

Both methods of cleaning are useful, but there are times when using one of the ways that may damage your garment, if not making it look unpleasant. So, here are few differences between the two methods of cleaning; laundry and dry cleaning. 

1. Basic difference 

The significant essential difference between these two methods of cleaning is the solvent used. Laundry cleaning uses water as the solvent, while dry cleaning uses a chemical solution other than water. The solvent used will depend on the dry cleaners’ preferences.

Perchloroethylene, also known as Perc, is commonly used by many dry cleaners though some contradicting issues are surrounding it. Other dry cleaners use Hydrocarbon because it less aggressive than Perc though it may require a much longer cycle. Liquid silicone and Glycol ether are also among the accessible solvents used.

Laundry dry cleaning
Laundry dry cleaning

2. Process differences 

Laundry cleaning process
This is a complete wet process, where garment or your clothes are cleaned with water using detergents and other laundry agents like bleaching agents. On arrival to your cleaner, your clothing goes through the following process. 

• Mending- if your garment needs any mending, it’s done immediately after inspection. 

Pre-treating stains– If some stains need special treatment, they are done before going to the washing machine. 

• Sorting.- Your garment is sorted out, according to their color or the materials

• Washing- Here, your clothing is put in a washing machine using a recommended amount of detergent and then tumbled with water. 

• Drying – Water will be removed in the process by spinning, and some company here in Singapore usually have a dryer that squeezes all the water out. Alternatively, they are hung out to dry completely. 

The process is very useful in removing stains, but there are times when some stains aren’t removed effectively. Post-spotting is a process where these stains may be noticed and the necessary action taken. 

• Finishing – This step includes getting your cloth or garment ready for wear by pressing or ironing, reattaching buttons that may have disappeared during the washing process, and making necessary repairs. 

• Packaging is the last step. 

Dry cleaning
Dry cleaning

Dry cleaning process

The dry cleaning process also begins when you drop off your clothes. In Singapore, many dry cleaners do not have equipment on-site, but they usually transport your laundry to their central cleaning facility. The process is entirely different from the laundry cleaning process.

Here are a few steps in the dry cleaning process. 
• Tagging and inspection- This is a necessary step in both means of cleaning, and it’s done to avoid any possible blame game.

• Stain Pretreatment- This is part of the inspection process, where a cleaner checks for any stains before the solvent cleaning process. 

• Dry cleaning- This is where the main difference between the two methods is noticed. The clothes are loaded in a drum machine and cleaned with a water-free solvent and then gently agitated in the solution. The water is drained and then recycled, and your clothes are rinsed in a fresh solvent to flush away any remaining dirt. 

• Post-spotting- This step is, in most cases, not necessary, unlike laundry cleaning because, dry cleaning works very well in removing stains. However, it’s not 100 percent guarantee that it’s going to be stain-free, so here your cloth will be treated with streams, water, or vacuums to remove any possible traces of dirt. 

• Finishing- The wrinkles are rare in dry cleaning, so finishing may not involve ironing, but pressing may be necessary. 

Laundry service
Laundry service

3. Cost Differences.

Dry cleaning is considered to be a more effective method of cleaning, as compared to laundry cleaning. This is one of the reasons the costs of dry brushing are usually a little bit higher than laundry. It also involves using expensive chemical solvents. However, in Singapore, the difference is not that huge and may range from $2-$5, depending on the type of clothing. 

4. The end results-differences

The conventional laundry cleaning can shrink your garment. Shrinkage occurs mainly because the clothing underwent a high mechanical action after getting washed by water and then dried for a long time. The nature of modern washing machines can also cause shrinkage, especially if the cleaner is not careful enough during the process of applying heat.

Apart from the shrinkage, there are also high chances of texture change and perhaps the dullness of the color. Dry cleaning gives a better outcome, especially to silk garments, woolen garments, and other long garments like curtains. The chances of any wrinkles are very few, and the appearance of your fabric will ‘like-new.’ 

Laundry cleaning gives more freshness on the cloth than laundry cleaning, because water is the prime solvent in its washing process and its more energy efficient. So, it is very easy to distinguish whether your clothes have been drying cleaned or washed with water. If for example;

• Your fabric will be hard, but with a fresh smell then it was cleaned using water and no solvents.

• The fabric is a little softer then; it dries washed. 

• There are lots of shrinkages then; it was laundry washed.

• If your garment isn’t faded, then it means that it was dry-cleaned. 

There are different factors that determine the method of cleaning you are supposed to use on your garment, but there are at times your garment may require both dry cleaning and laundry cleaning respectively. At times, the selection of the washing process may depend on personal discretion.

Many clothes usually have a label that directs you, whether to use laundry cleaning or dry cleaning, so be on the lookout on this label prior to washing your garment. The basic rule is about the fabric and the cleaning processes; cotton, linen, Polyester, Cashmere, acrylic, and nylon are better cleaned using the laundry cleaning process. Acetate, velvet, wool, and taffeta should be dry washed.

Infographic - Laundry wet wash VS Dry cleaning
Infographic – Laundry wet wash VS Dry cleaning
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