What is the Difference Between Dry Cleaning and Laundry?

laundry room

Understanding the fundamental differences between dry cleaning and laundry is essential for proper garment care. Dry cleaning is a cleaning process for clothing and textiles using a chemical solvent other than water. This method is used to clean delicate fabrics that cannot withstand the rough and tumble of a washing machine and dryer.

It also helps to preserve the desirable qualities of many fabrics, such as smoothness and crispness. Laundry, on the other hand, usually involves washing clothes with water and detergent. This process can be done by hand or in a washing machine. After washing, clothes are typically dried in a dryer or air-dried. Laundry is the most common method for cleaning everyday garments and is effective for removing common stains and dirt.

Differences between Dry Cleaning and Laundry

Dry cleaning and laundry are both processes used to clean clothing and textiles, yet they differ in terms of the cleaning agents, methods applied, and the level of care provided to the fabrics.

Cleaning Processes

Dry cleaning utilizes a lack of water and relies instead on solvents to remove dirt and stains from fabrics. Clothes are immersed in a solvent, typically perchloroethylene (perc), which absorbs and lifts away grime. In contrast, laundry involves washing clothes in water, using detergents to loosen and cleanse away dirt. This is often followed by a rinse and spin cycle in the washing machine.

Chemicals Used

Chemicals in laundry cleaning primarily consist of detergents, bleach, and fabric softeners. Detergents are designed to be compatible with water and can vary in strength. However, dry cleaning utilizes non-water-based solvents.

  • Laundry:
    • Detergents: Alkaline substances that break down dirt
    • Bleach: Used to whiten and disinfect fabrics
    • Fabric Softeners: Conditioners to prevent static and add a scent
  • Dry Cleaning:
    • Perchloroethylene (perc): A chlorinated solvent effective at removing oils and fats
    • Hydrocarbons: Less aggressive alternative solvents

Fabric Care

Laundry is a more rigorous process that can cause shrinkage, color bleeding, or damage to delicate fabrics. It involves mechanical action from washing machines or manual agitation when hand-washing. Conversely, dry cleaning is gentler, as it doesn't use water and minimizes physical strain on the fabrics, making it suitable for delicate and intricate items that may otherwise be damaged in a laundry service.

  • Laundry:
    • Hot Water: Can shrink or fade some fabrics
    • Agitation: May be harsh on delicate items
  • Dry Cleaning:
    • No Water: Reduces risk of shrinking or altering fabric shape
    • Gentle on Delicates: Preserves the integrity of intricate garments

Choosing the Right Service

When selecting a cleaning service for clothing and textiles, one must consider the fabric type and the nature of the stains. This determines whether to opt for dry cleaning or laundry services.

When to Dry Clean

Certain fabrics and garments require dry cleaning to preserve their quality and extend their lifespan. One should opt for dry cleaning for:

  • Suits and formal wear: To ensure they maintain their structure and appearance.
  • Delicate fabrics such as silk, wool, and velvet: These materials can be damaged by water and agitation.
  • Clothes with embellishments: Beading or sequins may become detached in a traditional wash.
  • Stains from oil or grease: Dry cleaning solvents are more effective on these types of stains.

For residents in Indianapolis, Universal Cleaners is a reputable service provider known for their expertise in handling such garments.

When to Laundry

Using a laundry service is suitable when:

  • Fabrics are washable and durable: Such as cotton, synthetics, and linens.
  • Clothing is heavily soiled with water-based stains: Traditional laundering is effective on these.
  • Everyday wear: Standard clothing benefits from the water-based cleaning process.

For daily attire, using a service like Indianapolis's Universal Cleaners ensures a thorough and efficient clean, catering to a wide range of everyday fabrics.

Similar Articles

CCTV Camera Installation

In an ever-changing world where safety and security are of utmost importance, have you ever thoug

birthday party

Birthdays are special occasions that mark another year of life, growth, and cherished memories. Celebrating these milestones with friends and family is a tradition that never goes out of style. However, as each year passes, birthday party trends evolve, offering new and exciting ways to commemorate these special days


Managing household finances can often feel like navigating a complex labyrinth. With the right strategies, however, you can significantly reduce your monthly expenses and avoid hefty costs. 

Smart home automation

Learn the potential of smart home automation with data analysis techniques.

Beyond the Noise: The Hidden Perks of Living Near a Highway

Living near a highway holds a unique appeal, often shrouded in misconceptions. While initial perceptions might focus on noise and congestion, the reality paints a far more nuanced picture. Beyond the surface lies a world of hidden perks waiting to be explored.

Storage Solutions for a Stress-Free Move: Tips and Tricks for a Successful Relocation

Moving is a whirlwind. Between packing, coordinating logistics and settling into a new place, it's easy to feel overwhelmed. But there's a secret weapon that can significantly reduce stress and streamline the process: storage.


Step-by-step guide on repairing a Maytag dryer, covering common issues like heating problems and drum malfunctions. Perfect for DIY enthusiasts and homeowners aiming to fix their appliance efficiently and safely.


Coasters are a small piece of accessory that helps you protect your living room table, dining table, car seat, cup holder, and dashboard, and bedroom side table from beverage spills and stains.

Home Usage Testing

In today's fast-paced consumer market, understanding customer preferences and behavior is paramount for businesses to stay ahead of the curve. Enter in-home usage testing (IHUT), a game-changing strategy that empowers companies to gather invaluable insights directly from consumers in their natural environments.