Frequently Asked Questions

We have answers for your questions about the dry cleaning industry. See our glossary for definitions of terms, Advice & Tips for quick links, and Knowledge & Advice for detailed articles.

For information on Brio’s dry cleaning services, see our pages on Professional Garment Care, Formal & Designer Wear, Specialty Items, and Wholesale Commercial.

What is dry cleaning?
Dry cleaning is laundering sensitive garments in petroleum or chlorine-based solvents and finishing them with specialized steam presses.
Is dry cleaning really dry?
No – the name comes from the cleaning process’ lack of water. Dry cleaning launders clothing in liquid solvent, drying to get solvent out and finishing with steam to reshape the garment.
Is dry cleaning solvent harmful to me, my clothing, or the environment?

Many dry cleaners use Perchloroethylene, or Perc, as their main dry cleaning solvent. Exposure does not harm clothing, but scientific evidence increasingly links it to cancer.

The State of Washington now requires special handling and disposal for all waste, filters, barrels, and water contaminated with Perc.

Wet cleaning services get around the problem by substituting water in a computerized process that handles fine garments without the environmental risk.

What is GreenEarth Cleaning?
GreenEarth Cleaning is a brand whose patented GreenEarth solvent is based in Siloxane, or liquid silicon. GreenEarth solvent is more environmentally-friendly than carbon-based solvents such as Perc.
Does dry cleaning shrink clothes?

No – modern dry cleaning machines use specialized temperature control with minimal agitation to prevent shrinkage.

Will my dry cleaned garments be odor-free and ready to wear?
They will be ready to wear, but might have a fruity chemical smell from Perc. Wet cleaning does not leave chemical residue.
Does dry cleaning shorten the life of a garment?
No – in fact, dry cleaning can extend the life of a garment by removing unwanted grime and dirt that can wear out clothes.
What does dry cleaning do that home laundering doesn’t?
Unlike home laundering, dry cleaning treats “dry clean only” garments whose interior parts (such as pleats, collars, cuffs, and plackets) need special care. Finishing with steam presses instead of hot irons is key to preserving these garments.
Should I launder or dry clean my rayon and silk garments?

You can wet clean these, but other laundering options will depend on the cleaning label.

Why do spots sometimes appear after dry cleaning when they weren’t visible before?
Some spots start out invisible on patterned fabric or bleached white garments and darken after cleaning, especially fat-based stains. With wet cleaning, we address the stain before this happens.
What is the best way to remove stains?
You can remove most stains at home with water and dish soap. Failing that, dry cleaners target spots with different solutions based on whether the soil is water-soluble.
Which fabrics are recommended for dry cleaning?

You can dry clean all kinds of fabrics, but complex types labeled “dry clean only” especially benefit from finishing.

Can I launder a shirt labeled ‘Dry Clean Only’ at home?
In many cases, you can. Finishing with steam is just more likely to create a finished look and prolong garment life.
What do my clothes’ care labels mean about dry cleaning or laundering?
Care labels say which cleaning process will benefit your garment most. Dry cleaning uses chemical solvents in dry cleaning machines whereas laundering uses water and soap in washers and tumble dryers.