How Long Does Dry Cleaning Take? (Inc Examples)

Taking your clothes to the dry cleaner is an essential errand for many people. Whether you need your favorite suit cleaned for an important meeting or need your evening gown for a gala, it’s important to know what the turnaround time is on dry cleaning so you can plan accordingly.

How Long Does Dry Cleaning Take

In this article, we’ll tell you the average turnaround time for each item of clothing and how long the dry cleaner will hold on to items if you need to remember to pick them up.

We’ll also tell you how dry cleaning works and answer some of the most important questions people have about the dry cleaning process.

How Long Do Dry Cleaners Take On Average?

Dry cleaning generally takes 24-48 hours, but the process and time involved vary from fabric to fabric. Most cleaners strive for a 3-day turnaround on most garments, and some even offer same-day services on certain items. Extra services like stain removal and fabric restoration can add to the timeline.

Examples Of Dry Cleaners Turnaround Times

Although a dry cleaner will clean any type of garment, the process involved in cleaning different fabrics varies, and the timeline revolves around the process.

suit being dry cleaned

Let’s take a look at the average turnaround time you can expect for specific items and materials.

1. Suit

On average, you should expect the turnaround time on a regular suit to be about 2-3 days. That said, if you need a tuxedo cleaned, you can expect to wait for up to a week.

2. Shirts

Most dress shirts have a turnaround time of a day or two. Some cleaners even offer same-day service on shirts.

3. Wedding Dress

Since wedding dresses vary significantly in both style and fabric, it’s hard to say how long it will take to dry clean them.

You should expect to wait for up to a month for your dress if there are a lot of layers, but smaller dresses may only take a week or two.

If you are wearing a borrowed dress and need to have it cleaned before your wedding, you can ask the dry cleaner to put a rush on it, but there is typically an extra fee involved for this service.

4. Suede And Leather

Since suede and leather are easy to ruin, they require a special cleaning process. This process is delicate and needs someone who specializes in these fabrics.

Due to everything involved in dry cleaning these items, you should expect them to take a week or two on average.

5. Skirts And Dresses

Unless they are made from suede or leather, skirts and dresses will only take the same time as a dress shirt, so they should be ready in a day or two.

If the dry cleaner offers a same-day turnaround option, most dresses and skirts will qualify for this service.

How Dry Cleaning Works

dry cleaning process

As the name would imply, dry cleaning is the process of cleaning fabrics with little to no water. It removes surface stains and prevents the garments from shrinking or stretching.

Dry cleaning is no better or worse for most clothing than putting them in the washing machine, but it will extend the life of your delicate items.

Let’s take a closer look at how it works.

  1. Tagging: When you drop your clothes off at the dry cleaner, the first thing they will do is tag your garments. These tags have a barcode that identifies the owner so that the cleaners can ensure all the clothes are returned to the correct customer after separating them for cleaning.

  2. Inspection: Before the clothes are washed, a dry cleaning attendant examines them by going through pockets for anything the owners may have left behind. They will also check for stains and tears that need to be treated during the cleaning process.

  3. Pre-treating: When the attendant inspects your clothing, they will treat any stains (like Matcha) they see before putting the clothes in the dry cleaning machine. If you know there’s a spot or stain on your garments, you should let the cleaner know when you drop them off to make sure it doesn’t go unnoticed.

  4. Machine Cleaning: After inspection and pre-treating, the attendant places all soiled clothing into a dry cleaning machine. They typically separate clothing by fabric type so that all the garments in the machine can handle the same treatment. The clothes are washed with a water-free chemical solvent and lightly agitated to work the stains out. When the stains are removed, the clothes are rinsed with another round of the chemical solvent.

  5. Spot Cleaning: After the machine cleaning, the laundry attendant will inspect your clothing one last time to make sure all the stains are gone. If any stains remain, they will spot-treat your garments with a steam cleaner to lift the remaining particles from the fabric.

  6. Finish Touches: When the clothes are thoroughly cleaned, they will go through a final inspection in which the attendant will remove wrinkles either by steaming or ironing them. They will also reattach any lost buttons and repair any tears in the fabric. When they are ready to go, the attendant will place all garments for the same customer into a plastic bag to ensure that you can get your clothes home without staining them again. This bag will hang near the front of the shop for you to pick them up when you return.

How Long Do Dry Cleaners Have To Hold Onto Unclaimed Goods?

If you forget your clothing at the dry cleaner you’ll have at least 30 days to pick it up before the cleaner can donate your clothes to charity. The timeline varies from state to state, with 30 days being the minimum and 6 months being the maximum length of time you have to claim your clothing.

Tip: Set a reminder on your phone so you don’t forget!

Where Can I Find Same-Day Dry Cleaners Near Me?

To find same-day dry cleaners in your area, you can type “same-day cleaners near me” into the search bar on your browser. You can also check Yelp for reviews on your local dry cleaning establishments.


Do You Pay For Dry Cleaning Before or After?

Whether you pay before or after dry cleaning varies from shop to shop. While it used to be normal to pay after cleaning, some shop owners now insist on payment upfront so that customers will return for their items more quickly.

Should You Wash Clothes Before Dry Cleaning?

No, you should not wash fabric that is meant to be dry cleaned. Wetting these items can cause permanent damage to your clothing.

Does Dry Cleaning Get Stains Out?

Dry cleaning does an excellent job at removing oil stains, but other stains are just as challenging to remove with dry cleaning as with regular washing. The attendants do spot-treat stains and are usually successful at removing them.

Does Dry Cleaning Get Rid of Smell?

Most of the time, dry cleaning can remove odors from your clothing. However, unusually strong odors may persist after cleaning. Sometimes dry cleaning can even cause odors on your clothing.

The chemicals used in the cleaning process often have a strong smell that requires time to evaporate. 


Dry cleaning is an integral part of life for anyone with nice clothing, but we also need to know how long this process will take so we can plan our lives accordingly.

Most standard items like dress shirts, blouses, skirts, and dresses only take a day or two to clean, while finer items like wedding dresses or tuxedos can take up to a month.

Suede and leather require different cleaning processes, so they may not be ready to pick up until a week or two after you drop them off. Luckily, if you forget to return for your dry cleaning, you will have at least a month to claim your clothing before the cleaner can donate it to charity.

Shauna Stone

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