Dry cleaning is a process used to clean garments without water. Instead of water, dry cleaners use a liquid cleaning fluid and all garments are immersed and cleaned in this fluid.
Using water to launder some fibres can cause swelling, which causes shrinkage. Dry cleaning materials can save them from shrinkage. The majority of items being dry cleaned have care instructions or labelling and the dry cleaner will read and sort the items with these instructions in mind. Following cleaning, garments are dried and crisply pressed. Most dry cleaners will give a final inspection and wrap the dry cleaned item for collection or delivery. Dry cleaners may provide services for cleaning special items such as bridal gowns and some even offer packaging into presentation boxes after cleaning. They can also launder business shirts and suits and deliver them starched, folded or hanging on the same day. Items that can also be dry cleaned or laundered by specialists include ski gear, curtains, furnishing, leather and suede, and delicates.
Laundry services and laundromats generally offer standard and specialised garment and textile cleaning services using water-washing methods. They also provide drying and ironing and stain and spot removal services. Some will even deliver. Laundry services are generally slightly different to dry cleaning in that they most often use water to clean garments and other items. Laundry services will often collect, sort, wash and iron items and deliver back to the household in a prompt manner. Similar services are available at laundromats, where customers generally place items into provided washing machines for a fee and wait for completion of the cycle. Washing powders may be available but many people take their own. Once washed, items can be placed in industrial sized dryers and some laundromats are staffed enabling items to be dropped off at the laundromat for laundering or dry cleaning.