8 Things That Decide Whether Clothes Need Dry Clean Or Not

As we stand in front of our overflowing laundry baskets, many of us are faced with the dilemma – do these clothes need to be dry cleaned or can they just be thrown into the washing machine? 

Whether you’re a fashion-conscious individual or someone who simply wants to extend the life of their wardrobe, knowing how to properly care for your clothes is essential. Dry cleaning has long been considered the go-to method for delicate and high-end garments, but is it really always necessary? 

In this blog post, we will explore 8 key factors that determine whether your clothes need to be dry cleaned or if you can handle them at home. So grab your favorite cup of coffee and join us as we delve into the world of fabric care!

Importance of proper clothing care

Understanding how to properly care for your clothing is a skill that goes beyond mere aesthetics; it’s a crucial aspect of preserving the longevity and quality of your garments.

By knowing what requires dry cleaning and what can be safely washed at home, you can not only maintain the integrity and appearance of your clothes but also potentially save significant amounts of money in the process. Dry cleaning is often associated with preserving delicate fabrics and keeping high-end clothes in pristine condition.

However, it isn’t necessary for all types of clothing. Knowing when to take items to the dry cleaners requires a careful evaluation of various factors, which we will now proceed to explore. A bit of knowledge and discernment can keep your wardrobe looking new for years to come!

Factors affecting the decision

1. Fabric Type

The type of fabric is one of the most important factors determining whether a garment should be dry cleaned or not. While synthetic fabrics like polyester and nylon can typically withstand regular washing and drying, natural fibers such as wool, silk, and cashmere often require more careful handling. 

These delicate fabrics can shrink, distort, or lose their texture when exposed to water and heat. 

Therefore, high-end garments made from these materials should generally be dry-cleaned to maintain their quality and extend their lifespan. However, always refer to the care label on the garment for specific cleaning instructions.

2. Colorfastness

The second factor to consider is colorfastness. If the color of the garment tends to run or fade, it should be dry-cleaned to maintain its vibrancy. 

Certain colored fabrics, especially deep or rich hues, have a propensity to bleed during a typical wash cycle, causing the color to fade or even stain other clothes. Dry cleaning can prevent this color loss and keep your garments looking fresh and vibrant.

Again, always remember to check the label for specific care instructions related to color retention.

3. Embroidery or Embellishments

The third factor to take into account is whether your garment has any intricate embroidery, beadwork, or other embellishments. These intricate designs or add-ons can be extremely delicate and may sustain damage or even come off entirely during a regular wash cycle. 

It is especially true for items with hand-sewn or glued-on details. Dry cleaning is a more gentle process that can preserve the beauty and integrity of these embellishments, ensuring that your garment remains as stunning as the day you bought it. 

However, as always, refer to the care label for specific instructions. You may also consider consulting with your dry cleaner about the best way to clean these types of garments.

4. Stains

The fourth factor to consider is the presence of stubborn stains on your clothing. Some stains, such as oil, ink, or red wine, can be particularly hard to remove with regular washing. Attempting to clean these at home may result in the stain setting further or the fabric getting damaged. 

Professional dry cleaners have specialized solvents and techniques at their disposal, making them better equipped to handle such stains. Therefore, garments bearing stubborn stains should ideally be taken to a dry cleaner for effective and safe stain removal. 

Remember to point out any stains to the dry cleaner when dropping off your clothes.

5. Garment Structure

The fifth factor to consider is the structure of the garment. Tailored items like suits or formal gowns often exhibit a structured shape with pleats, creases, or built-in support which helps them maintain their form. 

These characteristics can be compromised when subjected to normal washing and drying procedures. Home laundering might cause these garments to lose their shape, wrinkle, or even damage the internal support, thereby ruining their fit and appearance.

Consequently, such structured items generally need to be dry-cleaned to preserve their form. Always consult the care label or your dry cleaner if you’re unsure about how to best clean these types of garments.

6. Manufacturer’s Instructions

The sixth factor to keep in mind when deciding if a garment needs dry cleaning or not is the manufacturer’s instructions. Each piece of clothing comes with a care label that provides specific instructions on how to maintain the garment. 

This label is a reliable guide provided by the people who know the fabric and the design the best – the manufacturers. If the care label states “Dry Clean Only”, it is strongly recommended to follow these instructions. Ignoring this can lead to damage, such as shrinkage, color bleeding, or even distortion of the garment structure.

Even if you think the material could withstand a normal wash cycle, the label might be indicating the need for special care due to other factors such as colorfastness, embroidery, or the garment’s structure. In conclusion, when in doubt, it’s always best to adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions.

7. Frequency of Use

The seventh factor to weigh in your decision is the frequency of use of the garment. Infrequently used items, such as special occasion attire or season-specific garments, can benefit significantly from dry cleaning. 

These pieces may not be worn often but when they are, you want them to look their best. Dry cleaning can help maintain their condition over time, ensuring they’re ready to wear and look as good as new whenever you need them. This treatment can prevent potential damage from moths or other pests and help keep garments fresh during storage. 

So, even if your winter coat or favorite formal dress spends more time in the closet than out, consider dry cleaning these special pieces to prolong their lifespan and maintain their quality. As always, refer to the care label for specific cleaning instructions.

8. Expense and Value

The eighth and final factor to consider when determining whether an item should be dry cleaned is its expense and value. High-end, expensive clothes or items of sentimental value are often worth the additional cost of dry cleaning to ensure their longevity. 

These garments often represent a substantial investment or hold deep personal value, and as such, their care and maintenance should not be compromised. Dry cleaning can provide specialized, gentle care that extends the life and maintains the quality of these precious items.

So, whether it’s a luxury designer dress, a cherished heirloom piece, or your wedding attire, it’s advisable to opt for professional dry cleaning services to preserve these valuable garments. 

Always remember, the care you invest in your clothes reflects their value to you. Make smart decisions about the care of your garments to keep them in the best condition for years to come.


Clothing care is an essential skill that extends far beyond the realm of fashion and aesthetics. By understanding when to opt for dry cleaning and when to wash at home, you not only maintain the integrity and appearance of your clothes but also save significantly over time. 

By paying close attention to these aspects, you can ensure your wardrobe maintains its freshness, vibrancy, and durability, showcasing your personal style in the best light possible for years to come. Remember, your clothes are an investment into your personal image and style – treat them with the care they deserve!

About Us

Keeping your clothes clean is more than just about hygiene, it is also about wearing clean clothes that look stylish and make you feel confident. However, to make your stylish couture last, you must take care of them. That’s where Greener Cleaner comes in. 

We are one of the few dry cleaners in Chicago that use zero petrochemicals in our cleaning. From your wedding dress to chic leather jackets, we dry clean everything in an eco-friendly manner. We can also alter your outfits to create a flattering fit and add a new spark to your old wardrobe favorites.

We also provide pick-up and delivery services for your clothing, so there is no hassle associated with laundry cleaning. You can reach us at (773) 784-8429 or fill out our contact form to know more.