What Fabrics Need to Be Dry Cleaned?


Unfortunately, not all of your laundry can just be tossed in the washing machine. Some types of fabrics need special care that you cannot get from the washing machine, or even from hand washing. This is where dry cleaning comes into play.

Dry cleaning allows you to remove dirt and stains from your clothing without having to use soap and water. There are special liquid chemical solvents used to remove stains and odors. Usually these solvents are perchloroethylene, trichloroethane and petroleum spirits.

What fabrics and clothing items need to be dry cleaned? Most shirts made of cotton, spandex and polyester can be machine washed or hand washed, while most suits, winter coats, formal wear and evening wear will need to be dry cleaned. 

Here’s a look at the particular fabrics that require professional dry cleaning:

  • Silk: Silk fabrics are known for their strong natural fibers that will not absorb dyes for coloring. By washing silk with soap and water, you risk the silk losing its color and also shrinking or distorting it. Dry cleaning silk is the best method of cleaning to prevent these issues and to keep the fabric protected from potential damage.
  • Suede: Suede is a form of leather usually made out of goat, cow or lamb hide. It is a luxury material known for its difficult-to-maintain nature. It can be sensitive to water-based cleaners, as well as light and moisture, so you need to make sure you’re using non-toxic chemicals and non-abrasive cleaners to get it cleaned properly. Your best bet is to take your suede items to a dry cleaner to ensure the proper solutions and methods are used.
  • Leather: Leather garments generally have very specific care instructions that must be followed to the letter. In most cases, dry cleaning should only be performed for the removal of severe stains, such as oil or ink. Otherwise, spot cleaning with other types of methods is going to be the best treatment for leather items.
  • Wool: Wool fabric is highly durable, but should not be put into water, as it will make it shrink. Dry cleaning avoids the risk of shrinkage and ensures wool garments will last for a long time. Many types of suits, coats and pants are made out of wool and must be dry cleaned. Business professionals often have their suits cleaned on a regular basis, given how often they wear them for their everyday tasks.
  • Denim: Denim should not be put into dryers. Jeans should be washed inside-out in cold water, then hung to dry. This is especially true for high-end denim and raw denim, which benefit much more from dry cleaning. Many people do not follow these instructions, but you will preserve your denim for much longer if you do so.

Need to know more about what clothing items need to be dry cleaned? We encourage you to contact our professional dry cleaning experts at Barry’s Cleaners & Launderers with any questions you have for our team. We’d be glad to tell you more about how we can care for and clean your garments to keep them looking and feeling their best.