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Expert Garment Care Blog

What IS the difference between Dry Cleaning and Laundering?

Recently we have had customers ask us what the difference is between dry cleaning & laundering. Some people may be unaware that different processes are used on their garments when they bring them to their dry cleaner. Not all items will actually be put through the dry cleaning process. Some garments will be cleaned using a process called laundering. Typically this process is used for your standard oxford type shirts. Dry cleaning is usually used for the rest of the items that you bring to your dry cleaner. There is also a newer innovation in the industry that may be used as well, called wet cleaning. Here is an in depth look into the different cleaning processes from our very own dry cleaning expert, Lisa. Lisa is the general manager of Pilgrim Cleaners and has over 30 years of industry experience.

Typical Items Cleaned With This Process: dress shirts
Why This Process Is Used: the laundering process removes water soluble stains such as: perspiration, food, beverages, etc. Most shirts will call for laundering on their care label. Laundering a shirt will result in a final product of a wet shirt, which creates a crisper press. Using water and an automated press makes this cleaning process economical, resulting in a more affordable option for your most washed item – shirts.
What The Process Is: laundering uses a large front loading machine, commercial detergents, water, starch (if requested), and brighteners for whites. The items are spot treated if needed, then put into the machine. They go into the machine dry, washed wet, and come out of the machine wet. They are then pressed wet, using an automated pressing machine. The garment is then inspected and missing buttons are hand sewn, then the automated garment conveyor system will package the garments and they will be ready for pick up.
Dry Cleaning 
Typical Items Cleaned With This Process: suit coats, pants, blouses (silk & rayon), dresses, skirts, etc.
Why This Process Is Used: usually a garment will have a care label that calls specifically for dry cleaning. Dry cleaning experts such as Pilgrim Cleaners will know which items require dry cleaning, or other cleaning processes. Typically, an item requires dry cleaning because of the following reasons: the fabric type, shrinkage, and the colors/dyes used.
What The Process Is: garments are loaded into a machine that looks like an oversize front loading washing machine. The clothes are put into the machine dry and a green solvent is used instead of water. The items are cleaned dry (without water) and come out dry. Garments are then pressed by hand, inspected, and buttons are replaced. Dry cleaning requires a much more labor intensive process, because the stain removal & pressing is entirely done by hand.
Wet Cleaning
Typical Items Cleaned With This Process: items with large & water soluble stains that need special care. Soiled & delicate items such as wedding dresses and even silks can be cleaned using this process.
Why This Process Is Used: items that are too soiled and won’t come clean with the dry cleaning process.
What The Process Is: using a large front loading machine conditioned water is used to prevent shrinkage and dye bleed. Wet cleaning is an alternative green option for dry cleaning a garment. For wet cleaning, garments are spot treated & put into the machine dry, they are then cleaned wet using the conditioned water and come out wet. Garments are then inspected & pressed by hand.
Typical Items Cleaned With This Process: casual garments such as sweatshirts, t-shirts, socks, underwear, jeans, etc.
Why This Process Is Used: we offer wash-dry-fold as a cleaning option for your everyday items that do not note any special care instructions. It is an alternative to doing your laundry at home.
What The Process Is: using standard commercial grade washing & drying machines similar to the type you would find at a laundromat, your items are washed & dried using detergents & water. Your items are then folded and packaged in plastic with a blue ribbon creating an easy to put away bundle.

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