Dry Cleaning vs Laundry: What’s the Difference and Which Should You Use?

Dry cleaning vs laundry; the great modern debate. How should you clean your clothing if you want to ensure your clothing lasts a long time?

We have so many different types of clothing today. They are made of dozens of different materials, both synthetic and natural. And not all clothing is created equal, so it can’t all be cleaned the same way.

For thousands of years, it was easier as people were primarily dressed in wool. In some cultures and time periods, you would also see cotton, linen, flax, and silk clothing as well.

But there are far more options available today. And many of them require different types of cleaning.

Dry cleaning vs laundry; the great modern debate. How should you clean your clothing if you want to ensure your clothing lasts a long time? Should you ignore the labels and simply put everything in the laundry?

Should you be dry cleaning everything? That’s exactly what we cover below, so keep reading to find out.

Why Are Different Types Of Cleaning Required For Different Materials?

Most people simply wash their clothing in the washing machine. While this might be okay for much of your clothing, it’s likely that you have a few items that need to be cleaned in other ways.

For example, it’s not uncommon for clothing labels to recommend washing by hand only. This might be due to the delicate nature of the fabric or details of the garment that would likely be destroyed by the washing machine.

Hand washing, while tedious, is very gentle on the clothing and can be just as effective for cleaning the garments. Though the lifespan will be much longer.

Silk is known for being extremely soft and smooth. But washing it in the washing machine may remove these characteristics or damage the garment. Hand washing and air drying are much better for the life of your silk garments. 

There are a few other laundry cleaning techniques. But the most common alternative is dry cleaning. Dry cleaning or laundry, what’s the difference; and when should you use each process?

What Is Laundering?

Laundering is the normal way of doing laundry. And the biggest difference between dry cleaning and laundry is the cleaning agents used. Washing your clothes in the washing machine is the process of using water, along with mild detergents, to clean your clothing.

Dry cleaning, on the other hand, doesn’t use water, as the name suggests. More on that below.

Laundering cleans our clothing similarly to how we clean our bodies. We use water and soap to remove dirt and grime, then dry the clothing aggressively and quickly.

The laundering process doesn’t require the use of chemicals. As a result, it may not be able to get the toughest stains out, but satisfies the majority of your cleaning needs.

Laundering works best with basic cotton clothing, synthetic fabrics like polyester or nylon, and wool on occasion. You should wash wool with cold water and air-dried to prevent shrinkage and deterioration. 

Any clothes worn against the skin throughout the day, such as shirts, shorts, socks, and undergarments, are best washed in the laundry machine. The main reason these garments are dirty is because of sweat. Submerging the clothing in water is the most effective way to remove sweat and body odors.

What Is Dry Cleaning?

If laundering uses water to clean clothing, then dry-cleaning is the opposite; it doesn’t require any water. Instead, it applies solvents to the clothing in a process similar to using a washing machine.

Even though it’s called “dry” cleaning, garments are still soaked. But instead of soaking in water, they are only soaked with cleaning solvents.

They tumble in a large machine with the solvent then dried with warm air to remove the solvent. Garments are steamed and pressed to ensure the shape of the garment is intact and to remove all wrinkles.

Most companies use a chemical-based solvent called perchloroethylene (PERC) which is considered hazardous waste after it’s been used. At Bubble, we only use environmentally-friendly, organic solvents to dry clean your clothing. 

Dry cleaning is best for heavy or stiff garments that need to maintain their shapes, such as suit jackets or heavy coats. It also works best for fabrics such as silk, wool, rayon, and others where water and aggressive laundering could shrink or ruin garments. 

You can also dry clean any type of garment, unlike laundering, which can ruin certain types of garments. So you could take anything to a dry cleaner, though clothes that usually accrue lots of sweat are the best machine washed. 

Dry Cleaning vs Laundry

Laundering or dry cleaning, how do you choose? Well, there are pros and cons to each cleaning method.

Laundering pros include;

  • Laundering doesn’t require strong or harsh chemicals
  • Water is better at removing sweat from clothing
  • It’s less expensive
  • Machine-washing is much more energy-efficient than traditional dry cleaning

But laundering isn’t all fun and games. Things to watch out for include;

  • It isn’t able to remove the toughest stains
  • It could shrink clothes
  • Clothes may not last as long

Traditional dry cleaning is known for being energy-intensive and harmful to the environment. But with better technology and modern, eco-friendly solvents, dry cleaning can be a much better option. Dry cleaning pros include;

  • Better at removing toughest stains
  • Can clean any type of garment or material
  • Increases the lifespan of clothing
  • Clothing comes perfectly pressed and shapen

With modern, sustainable practices, dry cleaning is much safer and more efficient. But for the majority of cleaners who still use inefficient practices, dry cleaning cons are;

  • Harsh chemicals are used
  • Clothing may smell like chemicals afterward
  • Excessive energy is wasted
  • More harmful to the environment

Choosing between dry cleaning and laundry isn’t hard. Simply consult your clothing labels. If you want to treat your clothing properly, just follow the instructions. 

Save Time With Pickup and Dropoff

Dry cleaning vs laundry shouldn’t be the question anymore. For those with a varied wardrobe, you should be cleaning your clothing both ways.

Different garments should be cleaned in different ways. If in doubt, you can have all of your clothing dry cleaned. We can pick up, clean, and drop your clothing back off to you to make your week easier than ever.



Try Bubble Laundry Service. $1.85/lb and $45 Off. Let’s get your laundry done. 

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