Common Myths You Should Know Before Your Next Dry Cleaners Trip

We may receive a commission on purchases made from links.

Dry cleaning is an excellent choice if you have an item you want to wash but are worried about ruining it. Some items are even dry-clean only due to the delicate nature of their fabrics. Whatever your reason, dry cleaning is also a general lifesaver if you don't have time for a long wash routine. Though it can be pricey, a dry cleaning service should be your go-to for things like formal occasion wear, items with special stipulations, or clothes that say "dry-clean only" on the label.


Even items that say "hand-wash only" can be dry cleaned. For instance, fabrics like lace and rayon are safe to go to the dry cleaners and, in fact, may be safer there, as hand-washing items yourself can lead to fabric harm through using too much water.

However, there are some myths surrounding dry cleaning that may have put you off taking items that desperately need a clean. Before you attempt to dry-clean your clothes at home, you should understand the truth behind these misconceptions and whether or not you should take heed of them.

Myth: Leaving time between washes is good for your clothes

You may think that dry-cleaning your clothes intermittently is the best way to preserve them. After all, we've all heard that washing your clothes too often can cause them to fade and stretch — and there is some partial truth to that. Repeatedly washing an item can cause issues like shrinking and discoloration, so we'll gladly accept any tips for preventing our fashion pieces from fading.


Nevertheless, think about when you wear your clothes. Even if you don't sweat a lot, sweat contains ammonia, which can not only cause staining (hence the yellowish sweat stains you get on white clothes sometimes) but also become ingrained in your clothes. This can lead to long-term damage and give your item an unsightly look.

If you see that your garment's starting to yellow, take it to a dry-cleaning store as soon as possible to prevent any further damage. Not only should your item come back as good as new but the professional stain removal equipment available at the dry cleaners can also remove more stains than you could at home.

Myth: Dry-cleaning will reduce the lifespan of your clothes

This is a worrying thing to hear, and it could even put you off of the dry cleaners for life. The reason for this myth is that some dry cleaners use chemical solutions such as formaldehyde dibutyl acetal that can be harsh on your garments' colors, which is why some clothes come back from the dry cleaners clean but lighter or more faded than they were before. Understandably, you don't want this to happen to your favorite black dress or vibrant pink trousers.


However, even though these chemicals should only mess with your clothing's color (not its lifespan), there are dry-cleaning places that don't use chemical solutions that react with clothing dye. This means that, with a little research, you can feel at peace about dropping off your clothing. Still, if you're really unsure, discuss your concerns with the dry cleaners when you drop off your item(s) so that they know to take extra care or to put your item through a gentler cleaning process than their typical cycle. 

Myth: Dry-cleaning isn't worth the expense

Dry cleaning can feel unnecessarily expensive, especially if you're having a large item cleaned. If you're on a budget, having to give up something like takeout food once or twice in order to have an item dry-cleaned can feel like a big sacrifice. Plus, items like cashmere sweaters and linen shirts — even the ones that say "dry-clean only" — can actually be washed at home by hand.


Nevertheless, there are some instances when dry cleaning is worth it. One of these instances is when an item has a stubborn stain that makes it impossible to style. If you've tried to get the stain out yourself (or don't even want to attempt it), getting it dry-cleaned can be a good investment if you think you'll wear the item more once the stain is removed — particularly if the garment is on the expensive side.

Moreover, if you plan to sell a stained item for a high price, getting it dry-cleaned will not only make buyers more interested but also allow you to potentially list the item for an even higher price. But even if the item doesn't have a stain, a fresh clean can make an item look its best, so a trip to the dry cleaners when selling items is never a bad idea.


Myth: Dry-cleaning takes too much time

Worried about time? Another common misconception about dry cleaning is that it takes ages, meaning you have to be super organized when planning to take your item — a difficult ask when you're busy. The truth is that though some items do take longer to dry-clean, most can be picked up within 48 hours of being dropped off.


Items that take longer to dry-clean include delicate and intricate materials like lace or satin, both of which require gentle cleaning and will take longer. On the flip side, the majority of cotton and polyester items will be ready faster, as these materials are more durable and therefore don't need as much intensive cleaning. Stained items usually take longer, too, so you should plan for extra time to be added on if you need a clothing item for a particular date. Some dry-cleaning stores even offer quick services so that you can pick an item up the next day, though they may cost extra.

Myth: At-home hacks always work as well as pro dry cleaning

While it may be tempting to ignore the "dry-clean only" label on that new sweater you just bought, there's a high chance you shouldn't. If your item can be washed by hand, the care label will usually allude to this and say "hand-wash" instead of "dry-clean only." Additionally, trying different hacks to dry-clean your clothes at home or even just trying to hand-wash your delicate clothes could lead to them being damaged beyond the point of repair. If you're going to clean all of your clothes at home, including the more delicate ones, you should invest in an at-home dry-cleaning kit and carefully follow its instructions so that you treat your items with the utmost care and precision. This can save you money in the long term, too.


In the end, only you can make the call on whether trying at-home stain removal remedies is worth causing possible damage to your garment. Some items will be okay, whereas others are worth the dry-cleaning fee — it's all down to individual judgment. Now that you know all of the information behind these common dry-cleaning myths, you can make a more balanced decision on whether or not you'll take your items to be dry-cleaned in the future.