How Dry Cleaning Works

A general purpose pressing machine
A general purpose pressing machine

The final phase of dry-cleaning operations includes finishing, pressing, steaming, ironing, and making any necessary repairs to restore the garment. This is the least mysterious process since most dry-cleaning stores have their professional finishing equipment in plain view of customers.

Once the clothes are cleaned, they are pressed or "finished." The steps in this process include:

  • Applying steam to soften the garment
  • Re-shaping it through quick drying
  • Removing the steam with air or vacuum
  • Applying pressure to the garment

The pressure comes from the head of the pressing machine, while steam is diffused through the bottom. Most machines not only emit steam, but can vacuum it out as well!

A special pressing machine for shirts: On the right is the sleeve press, and in the background you can see the press for cuffs and collars.
A perc dry cleaning machine
Washing machines for shirts and other laundered clothing: Shirts are washed in water rather than being dry cleaned.