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Do At-Home Dry Cleaning Products Really Work?

We find out if you really can do your dry cleaning at home...

laundry detergent bottle blank nonstockWe know it can be a pain to take your clothes to the dry cleaners every time you get a stain on your suit or toothpaste on your silk tie – that’s why we created Laundrapp! Yet there are other options available in some supermarkets which claim to give you the ability to dry clean at home. The only question is, do they work as well as the real thing?

First off, it’s worth knowing exactly how dry cleaning usually works. Contrary to the name, dry cleaning isn’t actually a dry process of cleaning your clothes – it’s just that it doesn’t use water to remove stains. Instead, dry cleaning uses solvents such as perchlorethylene to safely clean fabrics which can’t be cleaned by water.

Dry cleaning products such as Dryel, Freshcare and Custom Cleaner attempt to mimic this process in your tumble dryer using a mixture of pre-treatments and dryer-activated towels. They work by using heat to ‘activate’ scented water contained in the towel, which is kept separate from the fabric by a similarly activated emulsifying agent. Most dry cleaning at home kits require clothes to be packaged in a nylon or plastic bag, which contains the water and allows it to become vapour – effectively steaming the clothes to remove wrinkles.

Stains are meanwhile removed by the pre-treatment, which are sometimes accompanied by absorbent pads to stop the liquid damaging the fabric.

So, do dry cleaning at home kits actually do the job as well as traditional dry cleaning? Testers and leading laundry experts suggest not.

“None of the kits trumped a professional dry cleaner,” said New York Magazine after testing three of the leading brands, including Woolite and Bounce 15 Minute Dry Cleaner. In fact, every kit left stains behind and wrinkles behind such that they’d need further cleaning afterwards.

US domestic specialist Martha Stewart agrees too, noting that while “clothes come out soft and unwrinkled, they’re not exactly pressed or starched.”

There’s also the matter of smell to consider too, as dry cleaning at home kits will often embed fragrances into their products – and these scents are particularly potent since they can’t be diluted in water.

“I would recommend avoiding them,” said Jolie Kerr, Adequate Man’s resident laundry expert, who said the cloying smell left by products such as Dryel layered unpleasantly on top of others. Kerr says she hasn’t looked back after binning her dry cleaning at home kits.

Luckily, there are easier and more affordable ways to take care of your dry cleaning at home. All you have to do is get Laundrapp and arrange for your dry cleaning to be collected, cleaned and delivered at a time and place that suits you!

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