Clothing Care

The Complete Guide to Dry Cleaning

1280px Dry clean rack The Complete Guide to Dry Cleaning

We’ve all been in this situation before. You’re attending some sort of formal function in a dapper suit when the unthinkable happens: you accidentally spill food or drink on your favorite suit. Of course, what happens next is probably a no-brainier. As soon as you wake up the next day, you’re off to the dry cleaners. But before you head out, here are some basic facts that every guy should be aware of regarding dry cleaning.

What Is Dry Cleaning Exactly?

Dry cleaning is a process that cleans garments without using water. Instead of water, an organic solvent, typically perchlorethylene or DF2000 (which the industry calls perc), is used to extract everything that’s staining up your clothes. Here’s a neat video that describes the process in detail.

Is Dry Cleaning Good or Bad For My Clothes?

The dry cleaning process can actually be quite damaging to your clothes. Between the high temperatures and chemicals used, your garments are undergoing a lot fo stress each and every time you drop them off at the cleaners. However, many fine materials or delicately made garments require the process. The key is to try and limit how often an item is dry cleaned, and only use the process when absolutely required (e.g.: most suits can be aired out and steamed clean instead of dry cleaned, which should generally be done no more than twice a year)

What Can and Can’t Be Dry Cleaned?

Since dry cleaning isn’t all that great for your clothing, there could be a possibility that certain items don’t ever have to go to a dry cleaners. To be safe, however, always check the tags on your garments. Remember, dry clean only means that you can’t run it through the washer and dryer like a cotton t-shirt. With that in mind, here’s a quick rundown of some popular pieces that are frequently dropped off at the dry cleaners.


As noted earlier, the dry cleaning process will destroy your clothing, which includes suit. Your suit should be dry cleaned as little as possible, which would be about once or twice a year. If you happen to get a stain on your suit you can most likely remove it by using a mild soap, warm water and little elbow grease. If you’re concerned about those undesirable wrinkles, stretches and creases in your suit, you can always pick-up a clothes steamer or take a long hot shower with the suit hanging in the bathroom.

Dress Shirts

Again, dress shirts should only be dry cleaned infrequently. Usually you can machine-wash and hang-dry the shirt when it needs cleaning. If you do take a dress shirt to the cleaner, ask them iron the shirt by hand and not to use starch.


If the pants remain soil-free, they only have to go to the dry cleaners once a season, or about after 20 wears. If you want to keep your pants looking crisp, you can always have them pressed instead of dry cleaned. Also, make sure you leave the denim at home. If not, you’ll end up with this.


The best way to keep your knitwear soft and to maintain its shape is to hand-wash with a mild soap in warm water and let it dry flat.

How Do I Select a Dry Cleaner?

DryCleanCityPreston The Complete Guide to Dry Cleaning

Because you’re bound to make a trip to the dry cleaner probably a couple of times a year, you should at least make sure that you have someone who won’t trash your garments. But, how can you be certain? Research. Take a couple of minutes and do a Google search on local cleaners and read some reviews. Or, go about it the old-fashioned way and ask your friends and family for a recommendation. Other than reviews, you can also compare pricing and policies on lost or damaged clothing. One final consideration is if the business does the cleaning on-site or ships your clothing off to another location. Common sense suggests that you try to keep your clothes in the same location as where they were dropped off.


Almost every piece of clothing can be dry cleaned. But, it’s best to do so in moderation. The chemicals and high temperatures will gradually ruin your garments. If possible, take your items to the cleaners as little as possible. Most of the time, you can remove a stain by hand-washing the piece of clothing or spot-treating the stain. If you don’t have a dry cleaner, do some research. And, when you do find a cleaner, establish a friendly relationship like you would with any other business owner that you frequent. Even if it’s only a couple of times a year.

Images via Wikipedia Commons

Albert Costill
Just a typical guy that wants an ice-cold PBR with some pizza and wings to go with football on a Sunday. Since venturing into the blogosphere many years ago to discuss his favorite tunes, Al has now moved onto publications by Alpha Brand Media such as AMOG and SoJones to blab about anything and everything else that matters.

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