How Home Dry Cleaning Works
Despite the phrase “dry cleaning,” commercial dry cleaning is not actually dry. When you take your clothes to a professional dry cleaner, they are immersed in a special type of solvent rather than water and this solvent removes dirt, sweat, and other pollutants from your fabrics. Clothes are then typically steamed rather than ironed so they’re fresh and wrinkle-free. This is done because some materials do not stand up well to exposure to water, so they are protected by the use of this solvent. You can put your clothes through the same process at home with the right materials and your own clothes dryer.
To dry clean your clothes at home, you need a home dry cleaning kit. These kits will come with this special type of solvent, typically in bar or sheet form, and bags in which you place your clothes. They also may have a pretreatment for stains so you can address these before you put them through the wash process. This pretreatment usually involves a special type of pad and a bar or another type of application for the stain itself. You might place the pad on the side of the fabric with the stain and then use the bar or applicator underneath; the applicator pushes the stain through and it is absorbed in the pad.
Once you’ve pretreated any stains, you’re ready to place your clothes in the dry cleaning solution. It’s imperative you read the instructions and follow them closely for each brand of kit you may purchase, but typically they work by placing a few articles of clothing inside that special bag along with the bar or cloth, then placing these in your dryer for 15 to 20 minutes at medium heat.
The tumbling action and heat of the dryer will release the solvent from the bar or the pad which in turn mixes with your clothes. As they tumble the solvent covers all the clothes in the bag and then is eventually dissolved in the heat of the dryer.
Once the cycle is finished, you can remove your freshly cleaned clothes from the dryer and they’re clean and wrinkle free. If there are wrinkles you want to remove these with steam rather than a hot iron, which is often damaging to dry clean only fabrics.
The solvent should not damage your dryer or the clothes as it is fully dissolved in the heat of the dryer and kept inside the dry cleaning bag that is provided. You may notice a faint odor of solvent on your clothes as you would when you take your clothes to a professional dry cleaner, but this is generally mild. If you’re tired of big dry cleaning bills, try the at-home kits instead; they may save you hundreds of dollars in cleaning bills every year.