Dry cleaning vs Wet Cleaning

Dry Cleaning vs. Wet Cleaning

Posted on March 6, 2018 by Steven Toltz

Despite what people may say, cleaning clothing and other household textiles is a science. Professionals from all over the world have worked hard to determine the best cleaning methods for all types of fabrics — and that includes dry cleaning and wet cleaning.

While dry cleaning is a familiar concept for “dry clean only” clothes, many aren’t as familiar with wet cleaning. Unlike tossing something in your home washer, professional wet cleaning utilizes a gentler approach with water-based solutions. This eco-friendly method has become increasingly popular as a sustainable alternative to traditional dry cleaning methods. Determining which cleaning method — dry cleaning vs. wet cleaning — is better for your clothing depends on a few things, including the material of your clothing and the type of stain.

What Is Dry Cleaning?

Dry cleaning, though the name implies a water-free process, actually utilizes special cleaning solvents instead of water and detergent. These solvents, like hydrocarbons, are often chosen for their eco-friendly properties. Garments are loaded into a large machine along with the solvent, which gently agitates them to loosen dirt and stains. After this cleaning bath, the clothes are typically dried in the same machine (or a separate one) and then pressed to restore their shape and crispness.

Related Article: Does Dry cleaning Remove Stains?

What Is Wet Cleaning?

Wet cleaning, on the other hand, offers a more eco-friendly alternative to traditional dry cleaning. It uses a significantly smaller amount of water compared to laundry, but with specialized detergents to effectively clean garments previously limited to dry cleaning. This method allows professional cleaners to customize the cleaning process for each item, using computer-controlled machines for gentle agitation and precise drying temperatures.

Each way of cleaning serves different purposes. Dry cleaning relies on liquid solvents to clean delicate fabrics that might shrink or be damaged by water, while wet cleaning uses water and detergent for a more thorough clean while minimizing environmental impact. Ultimately, the best choice depends on the specific garment and the desired level of cleaning.

Dry Cleaning vs. Wet Cleaning: Pros and Cons

Dry cleaning and wet cleaning each have their strengths and weaknesses, making the best choice dependent on the specific garment and the type of cleaning needed.

Dry Cleaning Pros & Cons


    • Effective on delicate fabrics: Ideal for garments with “dry clean only” labels, as it avoids shrinkage or damage caused by water.
    • Great for oil-based stains: Solvents used in dry cleaning effectively lift oil and grease stains that water might struggle with.
    • Freshening and deodorizing: Dry cleaning removes odors and leaves clothes feeling fresh.


    • Harsh chemicals: Traditional dry cleaning solvents can be harsh on some fabrics and may leave a chemical odor.
    • Environmental impact: These solvents can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly.
    • Costly: Dry cleaning is typically more expensive than wet cleaning.
    • Not effective on all stains: May not fully remove water-based stains.

Wet Cleaning Pros & Cons


    • Eco-friendly: Uses water and specialized detergents, making it a more sustainable option.
    • Gentler on fabrics: Suitable for delicate fabrics that might be damaged by dry cleaning solvents.
    • Effective on water-based stains: Does a good job removing sweat, blood, and other water-soluble stains.
    • Often less expensive: Generally costs less than dry cleaning.


    • Risk of shrinkage or damage: Improper wet cleaning methods could still damage some fabrics.
    • Limited availability: Not all cleaners offer wet cleaning services.
    • May not remove oil-based stains: Less effective for grease or oil stains compared to dry cleaning.
    • Longer during time: Clothes may take longer to dry than after dry cleaning.

    When to Choose Wet Cleaning vs. Dry Cleaning

    Choosing the right method to clean your clothes can be tricky.  While dry cleaning is often recommended for delicate items like silk, wool, or cashmere, it might not be the most suitable choice for everything.  Wet cleaning, however, can be a great option for certain fabrics like cotton, linen, or denim, but may not be effective for oil based stains like grease, oil, or makeup. If you’re unsure which cleaning method to choose, consult your local professional cleaner like Dependable Cleaners. They’ll be able to assess the garment’s fabric and care label and recommend the most suitable cleaning method.

    Related Article: How to Choose a Dry Cleaner

    Convenient Wet Cleaning & Dry Cleaning in Colorado

    Life’s busy, and keeping your clothes looking their best shouldn’t add to the stress. Dependable Cleaners offers a one-stop solution for all your garment care needs,  whether you require dry cleaning for delicate items or a refresh for your everyday wear with wet cleaning.  We understand that convenience is key, which is why we offer a variety of time-saving options at stores across the Denver metro area. Enjoy the ease of free Pickup and Delivery service right to your doorstep, or utilize our 24-hour self-service kiosks for drop-off or pick-up anytime, day or night.  

    No matter your preference, Dependable Cleaners has a convenient solution for you.  Find a Dependable Cleaners near you today.