Dry cleaning, or more precisely, dry-to-dry cleaning, is the method where dirty clothes are loaded (dry) into a machine that looks like an over-sized washing machine. However, instead of water, a liquid chemical called perchloroehtylene (or perc) is introduced to wash the clothes. Once the clothes have run through several cleaning cycles, the perc is drained out. The machine then heats to a temperature where the remaining perc evaporates and is re-captured. The clothes are then dry and ready to be removed from the machine and finished. Therefore, even though the clothes are immersed in perc for cleaning, they start out dry and end up dry.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires manufacturers to attach a permanent label to textile garments that provides directions for their care. According to the Care Labeling Rule, manufacturers and importers are responsible for determining and listing at least on safe method of care. The Rule covers all textile clothing except hats, gloves, footwear, suede, leather and household items such as linens, draperies and bedspreads.
According to the FTC, the care label must be easy to find, attach permanently to the garment and remain legible during the garment's useful life. This Rule also recognizes a "reasonable basis" standard by which the manufacturer determines the appropriate care information and applies it to the garment in its entirety. Therefore, the label must warn about any part of the recommended care method that would harm the garment or others being cleaned with it.
Labels must also include a warning when there is no method for cleaning without causing damage.