Berry Blog

What is Dry Cleaning and How Does it Work?


Millions of people take their clothes to dry cleaners each year, but many don’t know what actually happens to their clothing and other items once they are dropped off. It’s fair to assume that the dry cleaning professionals handling your laundry are doing more than you could at your own home, but what exactly happens during the dry cleaning process? If you’ve ever asked yourself, “what is dry cleaning, anyway?”, this article is for you. Keep reading to find out!

What Does “Dry Cleaning” Mean?

In the strictest definition, “dry cleaning” is the process of cleaning clothing or fabric items without using water. Dry cleaning is “dry” because the cleaning occurs through the use of non-water based solvents instead of traditional H2O. Your clothing still gets wet, but “dry” cleaning simply means that water isn’t involved in the cleaning process. 
Recycled wood hangers at Mulberrys

Instead of water, professional dry cleaners use a proprietary liquid solvent. Many dry cleaners use synthetic, non-flammable solvents such as perchloroethylene (PERC) or decamethylcyclopentasiloxane. Other dry cleaners, however, use more eco-friendly solvents that have been proven to work just as well and have significantly less impact on the environment. 

At Mulberrys, we are an environmentally friendly dry cleaner that proudly uses PERC-free and siloxane-free cleaning techniques and non-toxic solvents. Our professional dry cleaners are trained to determine the most efficient way to remove stains without excessive heat or harmful chemicals, putting Mulberrys on the leading edge of a more environmentally response dry cleaning process. 

When Should You Consider Dry Cleaning?

Dry cleaning is typically beneficial for garments, like silk and wool, whose fibers don’t react well when exposed to water. It’s also a great option for garments that shouldn’t be exposed to the excessive heat that is produced by a traditional dryer. And, because of that, these items of clothing often need to be laundered in a more specialized way.

The Dry Cleaning Process 

There are many steps that make up the professional dry cleaning process, from a customer scheduling their order to the actual arrival of clothing or fabric items at the dry cleaning store or facility. Clothing gets tagged upon arrival for tracking purposes and then enters the early stages of the actual dry cleaning process. 

The first step before entering the actual cleaning stage is called “pre-spotting,” in which cleaners will give special treatment to stains found on your garment or clothing. Pre-spotting is important because it helps to ensure a more effective stain removal during the actual cleaning.  

After pre-spotting, the dry cleaning process typically consists of three steps: 

  1. The clothes are loaded into an industrial-sized washing and drying machine. Then, the solvent enters the cylinder from the holding tank where it reaches the clothes and removes any dirt and debris. The solvent travels back into the holding tank so it can begin the cleaning process again.
  2. Once the cleaning cycle is complete, the machines begin an extraction cycle that removes any excess solvent from the fabrics. During this step, the machine’s rotation increases rapidly, much like a standard washing machine spin cycle.
  3. After the items go through the extraction process, the clothes are either dried in the same machine or transferred to a separate dryer. 
  4. Garments or clothes exit the dry cleaning process completely dry. They are then pressed, steamed, or ironed to be delivered back to the customer. 

Learn more about wet cleaning and the difference between wet cleaning vs dry cleaning.

Turn to your neighborhood dry cleaners whenever you need the convenience of professional cleaning for your garments! Mulberrys is proud to offer the best dry cleaning services in Minneapolis and San Francisco

From 100% toxin-free dry cleaning to being a carbon-neutral business, Mulberrys is committed to a safer and greener future of dry cleaning! Learn more about all of our eco-friendly initiatives.