How Long Does Dry Cleaning Take? (Fabric, Size, & Treatments)
Author: Anne Cowart | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
If you’ve ever had a wardrobe emergency while traveling on a business trip, you might have asked yourself, “How long does dry cleaning take?” Do you have time to clean your clothing, or will you need to purchase something new?
If you are not familiar with the dry cleaning process, read on to learn more. We will delve into the details of dry cleaning, provide insights into the factors affecting turnaround time, and give approximations for various items commonly sent to be cleaned.
Understanding the Dry Cleaning Process
Skill and precision are needed to be sure your clothes come back to you fresh, crisp, and vibrant.
What is Dry Cleaning & How It Works
Dry cleaning is a specialized method of garment care that involves using chemical solvents instead of water to clean clothes. This process is especially beneficial for maintaining the shape, appearance, and quality of delicate or expensive fabrics that may be damaged by traditional washing techniques.
The actual process occurs within an enclosed machine designed specifically for this purpose. Garments are placed inside, undergoing thorough pre-spotting treatment to address stubborn stains before submerging in the chemical solvent.
Following this immersion, the clothing goes through a drying cycle wherein heat and air circulation help evaporate any remaining solvent residue, thus leaving your clothes clean and fresh.
Garments That Need Dry Cleaning
Certain garments require specialized cleaning methods to maintain their appearance and quality, making dry cleaning an essential part of fabric care for these items. Some common examples include delicate fabrics like silk, wool, cashmere, and certain synthetic materials that may be damaged by conventional washing techniques.
Additionally, wedding gown care demands meticulous attention due to the sentimental value of the garment and its intricate fabric combinations. Leather cleaning and suede maintenance are better handled through dry cleaning since these materials need special treatments to preserve their texture and prevent damage. So how long does dry cleaning take? It depends on the fabrics and how much care goes into them.
Stages in the Dry Cleaning Process
The dry cleaning time and process involves several stages, each with a specific purpose to ensure the best possible care and preservation of your garments. The first stage is garment inspection, where professional cleaners meticulously examine clothing for any existing stains, damage, or loose buttons that may require special attention during the subsequent steps.
After inspecting each item, dry cleaners move on to stain removal by treating various spots with specialized chemicals and solvents depending on the type of fabric and nature of the stain.
Once all pretreatment procedures are completed, garments are loaded into a dry cleaning machine that uses a solvent-based cleaning solution instead of water. This method effectively removes grease- and oil-based particles without damaging delicate fabrics or causing shrinkage.
Following the primary cleaning process, items undergo an additional rinse cycle in a fresh solvent before being dried in controlled conditions using warm air circulation systems designed for optimal garment care.
Factors That Affect Dry Cleaning Turnaround Time
Just like the time it takes to air dry clothes, several factors can affect dry cleaning turnaround time, including the type of fabric being cleaned, the level of soiling on the garment, any special treatments requested by the customer, the size of the load being processed at once, and how busy the particular dry cleaner is.
Type of Fabric
Delicate materials like silk, rayon, or lace require special care during the cleaning process and take longer to clean thoroughly. For example, woolens may take several days because they need careful drying to prevent shrinkage and discoloration.
Not all types of fabrics require lengthy processing times. Cotton and polyester blends are easier to maintain and less expensive than delicate fabrics. They take less time to dry.
Level of Soiling
How long does dry cleaning take? Well, if your clothing has extensive staining or dirt buildup, it will require more attention and care during cleaning.
That may result in a longer wait time as the dry cleaner takes extra steps to ensure all the stains are removed, and the garment is thoroughly cleaned. It's important to note that some stains, such as oil-based ones, may be more difficult to remove than others.
Another consideration regarding soiling levels is how long you wait before bringing your garments in for cleaning. The longer a stain sets into fabric without treatment, especially red wine or ink, the harder it becomes to completely remove those stains during a normal dry-cleaning cycle.
Special Treatments Requested
Special treatments such as stain removal techniques, clothing alterations, and garment repairs can add time to the standard dry cleaning process. Just like drying lights and darks separately can double the time spent if you don't have access to multiple machines at home, this kind of thing happens at the laundry mat, too.
It's important to communicate any requests for special treatments when dropping off your garments at the dry cleaners so they can accurately estimate how long it will take. How long do dry cleaners take? The more precious your items are, the longer it'll take.
Size of the Load
Larger loads generally require more time to clean effectively, so you can expect a longer turnaround time for bulkier and heavier items.
For example, if you're dropping off several different types of clothing items, such as formal wear or bedding, it could affect the overall cleaning time. It's important to note that many dry cleaners work with multiple locations or partner with other businesses to ensure they have enough equipment to handle bigger loads efficiently.
The Busyness of the Dry Cleaner
During peak seasons, such as prom or wedding season, some cleaners may receive an overwhelming number of orders and are unable to operate in their typical turnaround times.
In these cases, customers may need to allow longer wait times or consider alternative options. Some cleaners offer rush service options for an extra charge, prioritizing your order to ensure it is cleaned and returned as quickly as possible.
Average Dry Cleaning Turnaround Times
As we’ve seen, different factors are going to affect the dry cleaners turnaround time. The answer to, “How long does dry cleaning take?” can vary depending on the garment type, level of soiling, and special treatments requested.
Same-Day & Next-Day Services
If you're in a pinch and need your clothing cleaned quickly, many dry cleaners offer same-day or next-day services for an additional fee. These expedited services can be useful for those who have last-minute events or emergencies and need their clothing cleaned promptly.
Sometimes your clothing item will be ineligible for the rush service option. Delicate fabrics like silk or special stain removal treatments take longer to clean properly than a simple cotton t-shirt. If you are hoping to get same-day or next-day service, check with your local dry cleaner beforehand to see which garments are eligible.
When you want fast service but you don’t need it rushed, many dry cleaners offer a two-day service. This option is perfect for those who need their clothes cleaned quickly but don't need them back on the same day.
Generally, two-day service applies to standard clothing items like shirts or pants that require little extra work beyond cleaning and pressing. But, remember that some factors can impact the turnaround time of even two-day services, such as the workload of the cleaner or special treatments requested, which can add additional days.
Longer Turnaround Times
Certain clothing items will automatically take longer to turn around. For instance, anything made with specialty fabric or a lot of material will require extra care and attention. Wedding dresses, clothing items made of leather, fur, or suede, and outerwear such as coats and jackets can take up to one to two weeks to properly clean.
Remember, these turnaround times are estimates and will vary depending on the cleaner and the type of treatment you need. The type of fabric, level of soiling, special treatments requested, and load size are all factors that can affect how long it takes. How long does a dry cleaner take? They'll typically tell you how many days (or even hours) it'll take when you go.
So, How Long Does Dry Cleaning Take?
Now that you understand the dry cleaning process when it comes to turnaround times, you can be better prepared for the next time you need to use dry cleaning services.
Don’t be taken by surprise. The next time you have a wardrobe emergency you will not have to ask yourself, “How long does dry cleaning take?” You can plan to take an extra sportcoat on your next business trip, just in case. Or, plan to use same-day dry cleaning to crisp up your dress shirts.