How Long Does Dry Cleaning Take?

dry cleaning process image

Last Updated on August 16, 2023 By Emma W. Thomas

Dry cleaning typically takes 1 to 2 days. The process involves cleaning clothes with chemical solvents instead of water. Factors like the garment type, local service, and workload can influence the turnaround time. Always check with your dry cleaner for specific timings.

How Long Does Dry Cleaning Take?

Undergoing dry cleaning is a crucial part of maintaining good quality for your clothing, especially those that require special care. However, many individuals might wonder: “How long does dry cleaning take?”. 

1. Drop-off Time

It all begins when you drop off your clothing at the dry cleaners. Remember to always check the operating hours. Some cleaners could have specific drop-off hours, particularly during peak times.

2. Pretreatment Process

Dry cleaners apply a pretreatment phase during which they scrutinize your clothing for stains and spots that may not come off during the general cleaning process. This process could take roughly 10-15 minutes, depending on the number of pieces and their condition.

3. Dry Cleaning Process

The actual dry cleaning process typically takes about 1 to 2 hours per load. This timing varies based on the kind of machine used, its efficiency, and most importantly, the type of clothing being cleaned. Delicate items might require a longer time.

4. Post-Cleaning Inspection

After cleaning, another 10-15 minutes are usually spent on a post-cleaning inspection to ensure all stains are removed thoroughly. If not, your clothing might need to go through another round of cleaning.

5. Pressing and Packaging

The post-cleaning also involves pressing, which can take anywhere between 20-30 minutes depending on the piece of clothing involved. Finally, your clothes are prepared for pick-up or delivery which includes packaging, typically achievable in about 5–10 minutes.

6. Consideration of Volume

The total time dry cleaning takes can be significantly affected by the volume of clothes the cleaner has on hand. If there’s a backlog or you dropped off your items just before a busy weekend, it could take longer.

While these are typical timelines, every dry cleaning establishment will have its own pace based on factors such as the tools and techniques they use or their customer volume. In general, however, it’s safe to anticipate that your dry cleaning will be ready between 24-72 hours from drop-off.

StagesTime Required
Drop-off TimeDepends on the operating hours
Pretreatment Process10-15 minutes
Dry Cleaning Process1-2 hours
Post-Cleaning Inspection10-15 minutes
Pressing and Packaging25-40 minutes
Total Time (Excluding backlog and downtime)24-72 hours

Why is it called dry cleaning?

Most of us wonder why it is called dry cleaning, yet there is a liquid solvent involved.

Dry cleaning is a method that involves the use of a dry solvent to get rid of dirt and stains on garments. It is mostly used for natural fabrics such as wool or silk, which shrink when exposed to moisture.  This process is called dry cleaning just because the liquid solvent used, doesn’t contain any moisture. Perchloroethylene commonly referred to as PCE is the most common dry cleaning solvent.

Let’s have a look at the whole dry-cleaning process from the time your garment gets to the dry cleaners to when you pick it up.

The dry-cleaning processes

We have condensed the various steps involved into just five steps which we shall explain in-depth:

  1. Receiving and inspecting the garments
  2. Pretreating any stains
  3. Dry cleaning
  4. Checking for spots
  5. Ironing and packaging
  • Receiving and inspecting the garments

When you deliver your clothes to a dry-cleaning shop, they are received by an attendant who inspects the garments. The attendant checks the labels and whether the garments are meant for dry cleaning or washing. This inspection also involves checking for damages such as missing buttons or tears that need to be fixed. If the garment is the right fabric and doesn’t need any fixing, the attendant will put a tag on your garment for easy identification, then proceed to pre-treatment.

  • Pretreating any stains

After receiving an inspection, the garments are checked for stains. If stains are present, a chemical is applied to make it easier to remove the stain during the cleaning phase. Spotting solvents are used to remove stains either by a steam jet or to soak the garment in a stain remover liquid.

  • Dry cleaning

At this stage, actual dry cleaning happens; it takes about 8 to 15 minutes depending on the type of garment and degree of soiling. This is the stage where garments get into the dry-cleaning machine’s chamber, commonly referred to as the ‘drum’ or ‘basket.’ During a wash cycle, the temperature of the solvent is kept at 30 degrees Celsius. Garments are put in the chamber then a solvent filtrates in and out of the chamber until the cycle is complete. The solvent then goes through a distillation process to purify it for reuse. The machine then undergoes a rinse and drying cycle to complete the cleaning process.

During the drying cycle, garments are tumbled at a warm temperature of around 60 degrees Celsius. After drying, garments are then deodorized using fresh air to remove any trace of solvents. At this point, the garments are clean and ready for pressing.

  • Checking for spots

After dry cleaning, a professional should check your garment for any stains that might have been overlooked. In case stains are found; the attendant will need to treat your garment again or repeat another round of cleaning for sparkling results.

  • Ironing and packaging

Once cleaners are sure that the garments are spotlessly clean, they press, fold, and package them ready for collection.                             

Tips for preparing your clothes for dry cleaning

Sending your clothes to the dry cleaners for the first time can be unnerving. You are afraid that your favorite suit might get spoilt or might not be clean, but we are here to help. Here are some tips for getting prepared that will guarantee your satisfaction.

  • Sort your clothes according to the tags

Some garments come with special dry clean instruction symbols on the label. Such instructions include:

  • Dry clean with petroleum solvent only
  • Dry clean short cycle
  • Dry clean low heat
  • Dry clean, with any solvent except trichloroethylene

If the dry clean instructions are indicated in symbols, it is advisable to look them up for easier sorting. Sorting is usually done at the dry cleaners, but you can go the extra mile to be safe.

  • Ensure the pockets are empty and you have removed any ornaments from your garment

Your pockets should be checked before dry cleaning, but cleaners really appreciate clients who double-check their garments beforehand. Make sure you check and remove anything that might be in the pockets to reduce the risk of damaging your clothes.

  • Mark or point out stains for easier identification

Make it easy for your dry cleaner to notice stains at the pre-treatment stage by pointing them out.

  • Select the best dry cleaner for your laundry

When looking for a dry cleaner, always consider the type of services they offer. If you want special garments such as wedding gowns dry cleaned, consider the dry cleaner’s expertise and experience in such items. It is also essential to consider the extra services you might get from your dry cleaner. These include repairs and adjustments to faulty garments either for free or at a small charge. Dry cleaners who offer pick-up and delivery services also make work easier and enjoyable.

Materials that should be dry cleaned

Clothes and garments come with care instruction tags that indicate the recommended cleaning method. After a few wear, this tag either comes off or becomes unreadable. We have a comprehensive list of materials that are meant to be dry-cleaned just to make your work easier and free from guesswork. These materials may fade or lose their shape and appearance when washed in water. Here’s our list:

  • Pure wool
  • Velvet 
  • Silk
  • Cashmere
  • Angora
  • Mohair
  • Genuine and fake leather
  • Garments with accessories or ornaments such as sequins or beads


Dry cleaning is a practical way of cleaning delicate garments without damaging them. Make sure you take your items to a professional to get the best results and value for your money.