So let's say you have a couple of clothes made with materials like silk or wool and the preferred method for cleaning them is dry cleaning as cleaning traditionally could get them all crumpled up and lose their colours. Prior to this time, you take these "dry-clean only" wears to professional dry cleaners to handle for you while you are charged for the services.
But with the current pandemic situation, you are trying to limit your exposure to the outside and also cut down on your spending. Now, does it mean that you have to not wear those clothes again? What if we tell you that you can actually clean your "dry clean only" clothes from the comfort of your home while attaining that professional touch?
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But before we go any further, what is dry cleaning?
Dry cleaning like your normal laundering is basically cleaning your clothes but this time with a solvent, instead of water. For commercial dry cleaning, one solvent that is popularly used is Perchloroethylene. So, unlike the regular laundry, your clothes do not get wet which is made sure of because the liquid solvent used has a way of evaporating rapidly.
What are the benefits of Dry Cleaning
There are lots of benefits dry cleaning holds over regular hand washing. Some of the key ones are as follows.
(1) It offers a better cleaning action
Because of the solvent used, most tough stains which are usually oil-based are easily soluble in it, making it easier to be washed off from the clothes as opposed to the regular detergents used for regular washing.
(2) It is less harmful to the clothes
With regular washing, the clothes have to contend with the harshness of the detergents used and the whole process involved. Eventually, this could affect the quality of the clothes a whole lot and cause wrinkling of the clothing material. This is why even companies that produce some of these delicate clothes would ideally advise that they be cleaned by dry cleaning methods alone, this is because of how less abrasive the method is compared to the regular washing method.
(3) They make clothes last longer
This is a given because of the fact that the cleaning method is less abrasive, so the clothes cleaned by the method are bound to last for a longer period of time.
I know we have established the importance of dry cleaning as opposed to regular washing and it seems it is without flaws but that is not entirely the case. While dry cleaning is not particularly detrimental to the clothes it is being used on, there is sufficient information backing the fact that dry cleaning can be extremely harmful to the health of those involved in the activity.
If you already have an underlying disease with your liver, kidneys or lungs, there is a greater chance of being harmed by the chemicals used, because those organs are too weak to protect you enough from the drastic effects of the chemicals used in the dry cleaning process.
What pollutant is actually harmful to your health?
Perchloroethylene (PERC) which is the key solvent that is used and responsible for the brilliant cleaning action of the dry cleaning process. While going through the dry cleaning process, because of how volatile the compound is, there is a high chance of it getting into the air and being inhaled. After getting into the body, that's where the harm starts showing effect.
When you are exposed to PERC for a long time, it will start affecting your central nervous system, livers, and kidneys. Also, the compound could cause dry skin, constant forgetfulness, and even something as extreme as respiratory failure. Further studies also show that when pregnant women are constantly exposed to this organic compound, their foetus could be harmed by it.
So, while PERC is brilliant for excellent cleaning action, you want to make sure you wear protective gear for your face and skin so they don't get exposed, that is if you are dealing with it directly.
Now let's get to the core part of this article. The truth is, more often than not, clothes labeled "dry clean only" can be cleaned using the regular washing method if only some precautions are taken into cognisance.
Going further, we will be showing some of the steps you can follow to aid you to pull this off
(1) Classify the clothes
Clothes that are made with fur, velvet, etc. are usually not advisable to be handled by yourself because of how tricky they can be when cleaning them. So while materials like silk, cotton, wool are tricky too, you can still find a way to wash them regardless.
(2) Spot Test
Because of how sensitive most of these clothing materials can be and for your own peace of mind, it is better to do a spot test of the clothes before going ahead to wash them as you planned to. So how do you go about this? Simply take out a small part of your cloth that can't be easily seen from outside and dip in small foamy water, rub the part with a cotton bud. If the cotton bud is stained with the dye colour of the cloth, then you should dry clean, if not, you can proceed with the next steps.
(3) Start washing
There are two ways to do this: using a machine and washing with your hands.
● When washing with a machine
Simply turn the cloth inside out and put in a mesh bag (which is very useful for holding delicate clothing materials when washing). Ensure you wash at the gentlest circle, using a detergent. When the cycle ends, take out the clothes and spread them flat to dry.
● When washing with hand
When doing this with your hands, it is quite tricky. Fill a basin or tub with water then add some quantity of soap. Ensure the solution is foamy enough before dipping your clothes in it. Dip the clothes in and out of the soapy water and ruffle gently in the water. After doing this for some time and you are confident the clothes are clean enough, discard the foamy water and top with cold water, this time without soap. Dip the clothes repeatedly to ensure the soap is totally rinsed off.
● For drying
You want to avoid using a dryer by all means because they can be harsh on the clothes. Instead place the cloth in a clean dry towel, roll the towel and squeeze gently. After you are done, roll it out. You have to repeat this process for a number of times before the clothes are drained of water completely.
Follow the processes discussed above religiously and you are sure to achieve impressive results.