What Happens if You Wash Instead of Dry Clean?
Posted on Dry Cleaning

What Happens if You Wash Instead of Dry Clean?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between washing your clothes yourself or getting them dry cleaned? What is this wizardry they perform that is so different from what you can do yourself with your washing machine and detergent? Well, the answer is, there’s a big difference. Dry cleaning keeps your clothes fresher and looking new for longer which is why many people turn to professional dry cleaning rather than doing it themselves.

In this post, we’ll explain the difference between washing your clothes and dry cleaning them and which one is the better option.

What is dry cleaning?

Dry cleaning is a bit of a misnomer as the items being dry cleaned do actually get wet, but it’s meant to refer to cleaning clothes without the use of water. Dry cleaning instead uses liquid solvents, like perchloroethylene, to dissolve the dirt on clothing and evaporate before it sets into the fabric, rather than soaking it in water and chemicals like a washing machine.

That’s why we tend to think of only taking expensive or delicate clothing items to the dry cleaners, as the process is more delicate with the material, however, almost all clothing can benefit from being dry cleaned. Dry cleaning is quite often carried out by professionals and produces outstanding, clean laundry results that are long-lasting and gentle on your garments.

What does washing your clothes consist of?

This may seem obvious but have you ever actually thought about the process of what your clothes go through them you wash them at home? At home, you’ll use detergent and maybe even fabric softeners to remove dirt and grime from your clothes and have them smell nice.

These are mixed with water and the chemicals dissolve in the water to create a cleaning solution for your clothes. Your washing machine then heats up to the desired temperature and spins your clothes quite aggressively to clean them. They are then spun again to release any water.

Benefits of dry cleaning

Benefits of dry cleaning

Getting your clothing dry-cleaned isn’t just beneficial because someone else is doing it for you, no. Dry cleaning has plenty of benefits, from removing tough stains gently, to effectively cleaning large items.

A gentle laundry solution

Washing clothes in water and washing detergent loosens the fabric and causes faster wear and tear and holes may even appear. The chemicals used in dry cleaning remove the dirt and microbes from the material without affecting its structure. So, dry cleaning can effectively remove tough stains like oil, wine and chemicals from the fabric, rather than pushing the offending microbes around in soapy water like a washing machine.

By cleaning your clothes gently, dry cleaning is not just great at handling delicate materials, but it also helps keep your clothes looking fresher, for longer.

That may seem counterintuitive as we’ve all largely been led to believe that frequent washing of clothes, especially denim, will soften the fabric so much that it will wear away. While this may be true of regular washing in a washing machine or hot water, dry cleaning removes the dirt from your clothes that would otherwise damage the clothing fibres, which helps give your wardrobe more life.

Alternatives to dry cleaning

As a substitute for dry cleaning, which is usually done by professionals, you can dry clean your clothes yourself if you don’t want to pay someone to do it, but it takes some practice and know-how to do it.

Secondly, if you are going to wash your clothes at home the conventional way, be sure to use mesh laundry bags which will protect delicate items. Always check the labels of your clothes and put clothes that are considered to be delicate, hand wash only etc. into mesh bags to protect them before throwing them in the washing machine.

If you don’t want to use a professional service, make sure you treat stains before putting clothes in the washing machine as once they have been washed it’s almost impossible to remove the stain as it becomes embedded within the fibres.

Things to know about dry cleaning

Things to know about dry cleaning

Now you know the difference between washing and dry cleaning, here are some additional questions you may have about using a professional service.

How long can clothes stay in the cleaners?

We all remember a situation when we planned to pick something up and something else came up which means you’re late. If you’re doing your own laundry at home and this happens, it might sit wet in the washing machine overnight or even for several days which means it would need rewashing.

If you choose to use a professional dry cleaning service they can keep your clothes for you until you’re ready to pick them up, adding to the convenience of the service.

Do dry cleaned clothes last longer?

Yes, dry cleaning can actually make your clothes last longer! The solvent used in dry cleaning is lighter than water, so the fabric is treated in a more delicate way. Whereas, water can cause some fabrics (such as wool) to shrink, lose their colours, or become frayed.

Additionally, when a garment is machine washed, it will twist and spin around in the washing machine, which can disrupt and damage the fibres in the fabric. This can result in the garment stretching or having bobbles on it, so the garment does not last as long. In contrast, the garment would not twist and spin when you have it dry cleaned, as this is a much gentler cleaning method.

Even when we hand wash garments, we often wring and scrub them, to make sure the washing powder is penetrating enough to remove dirt and stains. However, with dry cleaning, harsh movements such as wringing and scrubbing do not occur.

What’s more, in your household washing machine, the grime from your dirty clothes and the residue left behind from laundry detergent can cause mould and mildew to build up in the washing machine. This means that your clothes will not be thoroughly cleaned after a machine wash, which often results in harsher scrubbing to get rid of those germs. Again, repeated washing can cause wear and tear to the fibres in garments.

Can dry cleaning remove tough stains?

Harsh stains such as armpit stains can be difficult to get rid of yourself without ruining your garment. Yes, you will be pleased to know that professional dry cleaning can remove armpit stains, in most cases.

Even though the garment isn’t being washed with water, the chemical solvent used in the dry cleaning process will expertly lift any stubborn armpit stains and eliminate foul smells.

The dry cleaning agent will break down the oils and residues that are causing the armpit stains to form in the first place.



We are a dry cleaning service based in London, offering services across certain locations across the UK. Founded in 2014, we followed a dream and we aim to serve our customers in a way that far exceeds expectation. Being one of the leading laundry service providers, we know our customers’ mindset. It is not easy to come home from a hectic day at the office and rush to the nearest laundry service with your clothes.

We have a handy laundry app for dry cleaning where you can book your time slot. Let us know what you want cleaning and we will pick it up and drop it off for you at a time convenient to you.

So, Is it better to wash or dry clean? In our opinion, it’s always better to dry clean your clothes to keep their integrity intact and it makes them last longer. Using a professional service like ours doesn’t only make sure your clothes are well looked after but it gives you peace of mind that your laundry is being taken care of so it’s one less job for you.


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