dry clean

To dry clean something is to launder it using chemicals rather than water and soap. If the label on your your new cashmere sweater says "dry clean only," you'd better not throw it in the washing machine.

If a garment is delicate, or made of certain types of fabric, you'll have to dry clean it rather than tossing it in the laundry with your t-shirts and jeans. When professionals dry clean clothing, they use gentle solvents instead of soap. Despite the word dry, dry cleaning is (and always has been) a wet process. Originally known as "dry scouring," it was invented by Thomas L. Jennings, the first black American to receive a patent.

Definitions of dry clean
  1. verb
    clean with chemical agents
    see moresee less
    type of:
    clean, make clean
    make clean by removing dirt, filth, or unwanted substances from
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