I am sure that you have seen the labels on your clothing that costs a little more, under washing instructions it states specifically “dry clean only” as the method of cleaning. If you are anything like the rest of us, you are probably thinking”why do I have to dry clean this garment, what would happen if I just put it in the washing machine?” Unfortunately the answer is that it would be ruined if you put it through the washing machine, because the dry cleaning process does not use water and the fabrics that this garment is made from do not react well to water saturation. It is commonly misunderstood that dry cleaning involves no liquid, hence the name. This is actually not the case, and it is called dry cleaning because it uses no water. The process actually involves a chemical bath that will remove the oils, odors and stains without destroying the integrity of the weaves and threads of the fabric, as well as not effecting the colors of the dyes. The process bathes the garment then extrudes the chemicals out of it before pressing using a professional iron. The chemicals used are safe with contact to skin, and are completely removed from the garment using a specialized machine. Dry cleaning involves no tumbling or agitation the way that a home washing machine does, so the cleaning is actually done chemically, and not using a process that breaks down the threads and ages the garment. The reason that dry cleaning is recommended for more expensive garments and not for cheaper cottons and other fabrics is simply cost and time. It is expected that you will not be dry cleaning every bit of clothing you wear every day, as this would be cost prohibitive. The clothing would probably benefit from the process, but most people do not dry clean cheaper garments simply because they do not need protection from the wear and tear of the cleaning process. They can simply be replaced when they are worn out.
Because dry cleaning expensive garments costs more than simply placing the clothes into a home washer, it is rare that you will find people dry cleaning a piece of clothing in between every wearing. Generally you will find people dry cleaning items which do not directly contact skin after two or three wearings, or more often if they are exposed to cooking odors or smoke. These types of activities will need dry cleaning more often in order to keep the clothes looking good, but rarely are you going to find someone who dry cleans in between regular wearings. The schedule that is best to be followed is that if the garments come into contact with your skin, dry clean them every time you wear them. If the garments do not directly contact your skin, dry clean after a few light uses. If the garment is a coat or scarf or tie that is worn on top of other clothes, dry clean after a few months. It is best to regularly dry clean your clothes in order to keep them looking good, and keeping a schedule will help you with the process.