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How To Get Dry Cleaning Smell Out Of Clothes

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Traditional dry cleaning has long been proven to thoroughly clean garments, but if you’ve recently gotten your clothes dry cleaned you may have noticed a distinct, potentially unpleasant odor. The smell has been compared to kerosene, and for many this smell is bothersome. Luckily, we have a few easy tips and tricks to rid your newly dry cleaned clothes of strong dry cleaning odors.  




Why Do My Clothes Smell After Dry Cleaning?


The source of smelly dry cleaning can be traced to a chemical called perchloroethylene, otherwise referred to as “perc.” Perc is a laundering solvent that has been used in dry cleaning since the 1940s and is still the most commonly found chemical in traditional dry cleaning businesses. Perc is great at dissolving greases and oil from garments and fabrics, but its odor is irritating to sensitive noses.


Perc is quick to evaporate on lightweight materials but takes a longer time to dissolve on thick materials that hold onto the chemical. That’s why some items may carry the smell, while other fabrics do not. 


The Dangers of Perc Solvent


While perc is widely used in dry cleaning, we’ve grown wise to its dangers as a harmful chemical. While an effective cleaner, it’s been classified as a potential carcinogen by the EPA, leading to an increased cancer risk by those frequently exposed. Proximity to perc can cause dizziness, headaches, and nausea, as well as skin irritation from direct contact. 


Perc is also a danger to nature. 70% of all perc winds up in the environment and infiltrates the ground, poisoning groundwater. Behind that bad dry cleaning smell is a whole lot of damage.




Methods To Remove Dry Cleaning Smells From Your Clothes


While we strongly recommend against using standard dry cleaning, what are you supposed to do when your items have already been dry cleaned and have the smell of perc? There are a few different at-home remedies you can try to get the dry cleaning smell out of your clothes. Different fabrics may benefit from different methods, so feel free to experiment with a few methods to see which ones work best for you.


Ventilate the garments


Thick materials and fibers often need a longer time to let the dry cleaning chemicals evaporate. To speed up the process and get the dry cleaning smell out of your clothes, allow your garments to air out in a warm spot for a few days. The heat from the sun will cause the perc to evaporate and the smell will dissipate.


Baking Soda


In a pinch, baking soda is an effective odor absorber that you may already own at home. Baking soda has long been the go-to for soaking up and removing stinky smells, and its effects on dry cleaning odors are no different. 


Attach a small sock filled with baking soda into the sealed garment bag with your odorous item and allow it to sit. Replace the baking soda as necessary and after a few days the dry cleaning smell will be out of your clothes and they’ll be clean-smelling and ready to wear. 




Another household item that works to remove smells is vinegar. In a bathtub, mix plain white vinegar with hot water and allow it to steam up. Hang your item on the curtain rod and leave it to sit for a few hours to absorb the steam. The vinegar will cancel out the smell of the perc and leave your items smelling fresh.


Benefits of Wet Cleaning


To keep yourself, the environment, and your garments safe, consider a switch to wet cleaning. Wet cleaning is a safer, more eco-friendly approach to dry cleaning that uses no harmful chemicals. In fact, wet cleaning uses detergents and solvents that are gentler than at-home soaps. It’s the greenest way to clean your items and leaves only fresh, clean-smelling odors after washing.


If you have an item that still has a strong odor and the above methods weren’t effective to get the dry cleaning smell out of your clothes, feel free to bring your items to a wet cleaner. Wet cleaning will rid the item of the dry cleaning scent with ease.



The best way to beat perc smells is by switching to wet cleaning for all your dry cleaning needs. EcoClean is pleased to be an eco-conscious cleaner that can handle all the cleaning that traditional dry cleaners can cover, without the smell.


Visit one of our Austin locations for more information to learn how wet cleaning can benefit you.