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Home Drycleaning Kits

Home Drycleaning Kits: What They Can And Cannot Do

Drycleaning & Laundry Institute, the premier trade association for garment care, utilized its research and testing expertise to evaluate the effectiveness of home drycleaning kits.

While many of the brand names have been chosen to evoke "drycleaning", the fine print on most of these products makes it clear that they are not a substitute. In general, the Institute found that they do not remove ground-in soil and that they typically do not provide complete removal of all types of stains. However, these products can freshen garments by removing odors and imparting a pleasant fragrance.

What Do You Get In A Home Drycleaning Kit?

Garments are freshened when they are placed inside the dryer with the cloth, which is activated by the heat of the dryer. Up to four garments can be placed in a bag (along with the dryer-activated cloth) when using one of these products. The stain removal solution (which is dispensed form a plastic bottle) is applied directly on the stain, while the user holds an absorbent pad underneath the stained fabric.

Consumers are instructed to apply the solution until the stain is no longer visible or until it is evident that the stain cannot be removed. For kits that employ only a dryer-activated cloth, consumers are advised to use the cloth to remove stains. All kits recommend removing stains before garments are placed in the dryer.

What Can You Expect?

In general, most of the products can be successfully used to freshen garments, or for removing odors such as smoke, or odors after winter storage.

In terms of stain removal, DLI found that most of the products work well on water-based stains such as cola. Stains that are oil-based (ketchup, lipstick) presented more of a challenge for the home drycleaning kits. In some cases, these products caused the stain to spread, which created a bigger stain. None of the products removed ground-in soils, which consumers typically see as "ring around the collar" or dirty cuffs.

Can Home Drycleaning Kits Cause Damage?

When using a home drycleaning kit, consumers should be careful when using the stain removal solution so as not to cause rings, broken fibers on a loose weave or localized shrinkage on crepe or water-sensitive fabrics.

In testing, the home drycleaning kits stain removal solutions generally did not completely remove stains such as ketchup, lipstick, and cuff soil, resulting in a less-than-satisfactory appearance.

Home Drycleaning Kits versus Professional Drycleaning

Performance Factors

Home DC Kit

Professional Drycleaning

Removes odors

Removes wrinkles

Removes water-based stains (cola, wine, milk)

Removes oil-based stains (vegetable oil, shoe polish, butter)

Removes difficult stains (ball-point ink*, lipstick, makeup)

Cleans (removes dirt, body oils)

Restores creases and pleats

Imparts crisp, tailored appearance

*Ball-point ink stains may be set when initially treated with water-based stain removal solutions.

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