5 Tips on Deciding Whether to “Dry Clean Only” or “Wash”

dry cleaning

Dry cleaning is not a new business and has been around since ancient Rome when people used ammonia to clean woollen clothes, as wool shrinks when in hot water. Kerosene and gasoline, petroleum-based solvents, were also used for dry cleaning. People stopped using them for safety reasons due to their highly volatile nature.

Today, dry cleaning is a more straightforward, safer, and more convenient way of cleaning your clothes. It’s quite affordable, and modern practices now prioritize environmental safety. 

So, how do you know if you should wash your clothes or have them dry cleaned only? Thankfully, you don’t need an expert or be an expert when it comes to this situation. 

Here are five tips on deciding between dry cleaning or washing only: 

1. Check Your Clothes’ Tags

If you doubt whether to call your dry cleaner or wash the clothes at home, check the clothes’ tags. The tag usually indicates “Dry-clean Only” or “Dry Clean.” If you are going to wash the clothes, use a laundry marker and write on the tags.

Hi-tech detergents are usually safe for handwashing. However, don’t opt for regular detergent, as most are formulated for regular washes. The chemicals can be harsh on your hand-washed clothes.

2. Check the Fabric

The texture of the fabric is an indicator of whether to clean or not clean. Wool is dense and has a fine texture. If a garment is made of wool, it should likely be dry cleaned. When you put your hand on the fabric, it will feel scratchy or stiff. 

It is also likely that machine washing will cause damage to the material. Silk has a smooth, almost slippery feel. It will feel similar to the hand when you run your hand over it. You can be sure that you should not wash silk or satin dresses at home.

3. Check for Stains

Washable stains in dry clean only clothes are easy to find. Washing will spread the stain and make it harder to remove. Apply a spot remover or laundry detergent, and let it sit for a while. Use a stain remover if it’s tough, and only wash the clothes if the stain doesn’t come out. In this case, the best way to get it properly cleaned is to take it to the dry cleaners.

4. Check for Sensitivity

If you are allergic to certain chemicals, “Dry-Clean Only” clothes may not be your best choice of clothing. The chemical used in dry cleaning can cause a reaction on your skin. Alcohol, for instance, is used to clean the fabric and can irritate your skin.

The majority of “Dry-Clean Only” clothes should not be washed. If you want to wash them, you can do it at home. Just make sure you use a laundry detergent for dry clean only clothes.

5. Preparing the Clothes for Return

You need not worry whether the dry cleaners can clean your clothes or not. You need to prepare them well before sending them to the dry cleaners.

Preparing clothes for dry cleaning or laundry can be tricky, especially if you are not familiar with dry cleaning. You can easily ruin your clothes if you don’t handle them right before sending them to the dry cleaners.


The safest way to dry clean with confidence is to bring your “Dry-Clean Only” clothes to professional cleaners. Since it’s relatively inexpensive, you can save yourself the time and effort of dry cleaning your clothes yourself. This way, you ensure that the process is done right, using eco-friendly materials and methods. 

You can still wash off your regular clothes at home, though. Just don’t forget the tips mentioned above when washing your clothes.

Are you looking for a Barrhaven-based laundromat? Goodfellow Cleaners will take care of everything. Feel confident that your clothes will be cleaned to the highest standards, from delicate evening and wedding wear to daily office and casual attire. Contact us now to learn more about how we can care for your special garments and experience the Goodfellow difference.

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