Channing Sargent
Updated Dec 09, 2016 @ 3:54 pm
Customer at dry cleaner
Credit: Andersen Ross/Getty/iStock

Someone wrote to Racked with a question that has bugged us all: why do our clothes still smell after dry cleaning them, and is the whole dry cleaning process bogus?

Racked breaks it down in pretty basic terms: dry cleaning is done without the use of water. The process uses solvents (instead of detergent and water) in a machine that’s similar to the drum of a wet washing machine.

UHM what?

If fabrics brought to the cleaner are washable, they’ll be laundered with soap and water.

But garments made of more sensitive fabrics or that have embellishments get properly dry cleaned, which is just liquid cleaning without water.

So, why then do your clothes still sometimes smell bad after picking them up from the cleaner?

We’re thinking that’s because water does a better job of breaking up odor particles than solvents do.

If the garment you want cleaned is stinky, better to try a different cleaning method. Hand-wash, or check out some other options.

Dry cleaning is best reserved for non-stinky clothes in delicate fabrics or garments strung with embellishments…

like Grandma Marge’s crazy 80’s sweater that you cherish so.