Dry Cleaning vs Wet Cleaning vs Laundry

Hi Alex,
I am seeing signs on cleaning businesses in my neighbourhood that say Dry Cleaning, Wet Cleaning AND Laundry. I am lost trying to figure out what is what, can you help?

Laurie from Midtown


Hi Laurie,

Thanks for the great question and I’d be happy to help clear up the confusion!

Let’s start by looking at what dry cleaning really is. Dry cleaning uses no water, but relies on the use of toxic chemical liquid solvents like Perchloroethylene (PERC) or Petroleums. These chemicals are so toxic they require government regulated waste management programs to dispose of them. Not only are the chemicals terrible for the environment, the process that attempts to remove the chemicals from your clothing is very harsh on the garments themselves, using very high-heat. That’s why so many people air-out their dry cleaning when they get it home. Dry cleaning is only used to remove dry-side stains, non-water soluble stains, such as grease and oil from clothing and is ineffective against water soluble stains like body odour, food, etc.

Laundry, on the other hand, uses lots of water and common detergents, combined with the harsh mechanical action of a washing machine, to clean clothing. Its’ for washable items, usually made of cottons and polyesters, and casual wear that requires minimal finishing. This can be done successfully at home with a traditional washer/dryer. Laundry is NOT for your non-washable or dry clean only items, such as wools, silks, rayons, cashmeres etc., and can cause these items to shrink, pill and fade while providing a far less desirable finish.

Wet cleaning is a process using no harsh chemicals or solvents, instead using cleaning products that are safe enough to drink. The process uses a minimal amount of water, in a temperature controlled environment produced using specially calibrated machines. NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH LAUNDRY, wet cleaning is a perfect alternative for your ‘dry-clean only’ garments to the harsh processes of dry cleaning. The wet cleaning process offers far superior cleaning results than dry cleaning, without the impact of harsh chemical solvents. Whites are whiter and colours are brighter. Wet cleaners are part of a growing movement within the garment care industry to provide the customer with a truly hygienic clean and like new finish, without the use of harsh chemical solvents.

Thanks for the question,


If you have a question for our team, please email info@glenforestcleaners.com and we will do our best to get you an answer to your inquiry.

Glenforest News

April 20, 2019 by 

The Supreme Court of Canada recently dismissed a Leave to Appeal from an Ottawa dry cleaner that had been held liable for $1.8 million in clean-up costs from spills of dry cleaning chemicals that occurred approximately 45 years ago.

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April 11, 2019   by Greg Meckbach

An Ottawa dry cleaner is liable for nearly $2 million in environmental clean-up costs resulting from spills that occurred at least 45 years ago, as a result of a Supreme Court of Canada ruling released Thursday.

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