Don’t Rush Your Dry Cleaning

The good things in life shouldn’t be rushed. Consider the difference between dining at a highly-rated Zagat restaurant and grabbing a value meal at a fast food chain: you might get your food in five minutes at the latter, but you’ll enjoy your meal a lot more at the former. Now, consider dry cleaning—sure, you probably won’t get your clothes back in an hour like you usually do from a washing machine, but expensive garments need proper care—and that takes time.

So how long does a dry cleaning cycle take? It depends on the equipment being used and the condition that the garment is kept in. The materials, as well as the dyes used to color them, also play a big part. Delicate items may take less time, but that’s only because a shorter cycle is needed to protect the garment.

Ultimately, your clothing goes through several different cycles ranging from 5-25 minutes. What factors determine the cycle that the garment goes through?

A normal piece of clothing that won’t bleed and isn’t considered delicate first goes through a cycle to remove any solvent-soluble stains. Next, activated carbon is used for fugitive dyes. Hydrocarbon takes a minimum of 20 to 25 minutes to remove insoluble soils. Water-soluble stains will be removed next, but this takes more time, since the garment isn’t being washed in water. The solvent, together with the water in the garment itself, will begin to heat up and create the ideal humidity conditions to remove stains. This takes a minimum of 8 minutes.

Again, each dry cleaner is different. A high-quality dry cleaning service with well-cared-for equipment will be able to process your clothing relatively quickly, but will still take a while to finish the task; your garment may even go through some tests to see how its dyes or fabrics will be affected before cleaning begins. So the next time you drop off your dry cleaning, make sure you give the cleaners plenty of time to do their job right. You’ll be happier with the end result.