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"To clean or not to clean, that is the question."
Many people have asked me the difference between dry cleaning and laundering, and which method should be used for which clothes. Although I'm far from being an expert, I have made enough mistakes with both to be qualified as an authority!!!!
Dry cleaning is not dry. It just doesn't use water. It uses a room temperature solvent in which the clothes are immersed and from then on, the process becomes very similar to laundering; the clothes are put into the solvent in a washing machine-like appliance, agitated and then spun to remove the solvent. Then they're dried by warm air and deodorized.
Dry cleaning is generally considered to be easier on clothes than laundering, because there's no heat used in dry cleaning. I always follow the instructions on the cleaning tag in the garment (I'm such a rules follower!) but I alternate the type of cleaning once in a while; for example, once every four times I launder a piece, I'll have it dry cleaned instead, to save wear and tear and to get out any water-resistant stains. This is particularly true of jeans and cotton shirts-they need a break once in a while! Also, the solvent used in dry cleaning can yellow a white garment, so every so often I'll (very carefully!!!) hand launder a white piece on cold and delicate and let it line dry and then press it-our Las Vegas sun is a natural whitener. (If you don't live in Las Vegas, I'd skip that last step or you might end up with a white slab of ice!). Also, a quick note on jeans-most people over wash their jeans. Unless they're stained, jeans should only be washed every four or five times you wear them because the fabric will start to break down and once it does, it goes from crisp dark wash to limp distressed look rapidly! Jeans, however, like most types of clothing, greatly benefit from that occasional dry cleaning and pressing to return them to that "like new" look and feel.
I take the majority of my clothes to the dry cleaner. Shirts and most tops get laundered, while sweaters, dressy tops and pants get dry cleaned because water and heat can be bad for them. Suede and leather go to a different dry cleaner that specializes in those fabrics (if you're in Las Vegas and you want their name, email, phone or text me!). Those pieces, along with velvets, sequined pieces or any really dressy items get dry cleaned only once every five or six times they're worn, to save on wear and tear and because they're generally worn for such a short time that they don't get dirty. I steam out any wrinkles at home with my trusty Rowenta steamer.
Laundering and dry cleaning are subjects on which entire books have been written, so if you have questions on this delicate (ha-ha!!!) topic, please don't hesitate to email, text or call me. I will be happy to do whatever research is necessary to answer your question correctly. The end goal, of course, is that you have clothes that are clean, perfectly maintained and stylishly worn, so that, as always, you show that "trend is today but style is forever!"