Why Does Your Clothing Tag Say Dry Clean Only?

Have you ever looked at a dress and wondered what the various tags meant? If you’ve been guilty of ignoring these labels and tags, the chances are that you’ve encountered a few surprises when washing or ironing a dress that you’ve only worn once or twice.

While every tag should be read thoroughly to ensure the proper safety and long-term quality of a dress, people often tend to ignore the one that says “dry clean only.”

Let’s get into the details of what the “dry clean only” tag means and whether you should ignore it or not.

Why Does My Dress Say Dry Clean Only?

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is a consumer protection agency in the United States which ensures the labeling and tagging of clothes. Every clothing manufacturer is legally required to add care labels on individual clothing apparel in order to better inform customers about its protection and care. When using a dry clean label, the manufacturer wants to tell you to use a commercial cleaning service rather than doing a machine or hand wash.

The FTC defines dry cleaning as a process that uses organic solvents to remove dust and soil from a material. Clothing apparel is made of different materials and even within the same material, the quality can differ widely. Not every textile item can endure common cleaning methods.

If your dress has such a label, it’s because soap and detergents will harm the fabric, causing it to either shrink or shed its dye color.

Can I Ignore Dry Clean Only Tag and Machine Wash it?

While not all materials are able to or are designed to survive machine wash, most can. Even with the dry clean label, you can easily get away with a machine wash and get the same results. The trick is to use mild detergents and do a hand-wash for stains. Also, if you clearly understand the fabric and its characteristic changes when you put in water and detergent, you can avoid making multiple trips to your local dry cleaner every time you wear it.

Manufacturers often add the label to stay on the safe side in case of any mishap due to machine washes. Since—legally—only one type of care label can be added, using the dry cleaning one allows manufacturers to hint to consumers that the fabric will be better handled when left to professionals.

Organic solvents are also able to remove stains from dresses with accessories and embroidery on it that will be otherwise damaged in machine or hand wash.

Whatever your choice, at the end of the day, you’re responsible for the results. Dry cleaning can be expensive, but so is your dress so it’s better to be safe than sorry and use a professional dry-cleaning service.


New York and neighboring residents can hire NY Organic Dry Cleaners, one of the best Organic Dry Cleaning Services NYC. Offering free-pickup and delivery, their services are reliable and available all day and night.

Get in touch with them at Contact@nyorganicdrycleaners.com  or fill out this quick form for any questions or comments.

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