Why Are Some Clothes Dry Cleaned?
Many clothes or fabrics are dry clean only and can be damaged with traditional washing. These clothes or fabrics will shrink, stretch, or become worn and damaged if they are put through a regular washer and dryer.
Some examples are suede and imitation suede, smooth leather and imitation leather, cashmere, angora, acetate, some knits, and clothing with beading, sequins, and other embellishments.
Some woolens, silks and synthetic fabrics must be dry-cleaned, because ordinary laundering in soap and water may shrink or discolor them.
Actually, dry-cleaning is not “dry.” The process is called “dry-cleaning” because special solvents (fluids) are used to clean the fabric instead of water. The solvent used is typically tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene), which the industry calls “perc” or “PERC”.
It is used to clean delicate fabrics that cannot withstand the rough and tumble of a washing machine and clothes dryer; it can also eliminate labor-intensive hand washing.
After the clothes have been cleaned in solvent, they may be dried in drying cabinets that also remove any odors left by the solvent. The dry-cleaned clothes then go to a finisher, who may use a steam-pressing machine to press the garments to their original shapes and styles.