How to Use Dry Cleaning Fluid

Shirts hanging in closet

123ducu / Getty Images

Dry cleaning fluid is a highly toxic and sometimes flammable chemical that is used by dry cleaners to remove dirt and soil from clothing. Dry cleaning fluid is also available commercially for use on washable and dry-clean-only clothing. It's a solvent and is not water-based even though it is liquid; it can also come in powder or spray form. Although dry cleaning fluid is primarily used by professional dry cleaners, it can be used in the home with a great deal of caution.

In the Home

Some people prefer to use dry cleaning fluid in the home for their dry clean only fabrics, including laundry and upholstery. It is primarily used as a stain remover. Dry cleaning fluid is a master at getting out oil-based stains and oil-based ink stains from upholstery and carpet.

Our first recommendation is not to use it or to use it sparingly. Most of the time it isn't worth the headache; this stuff is smelly, toxic, and no joke to work with. We have always found other stain removal methods or opted to take my items to the dry cleaners. If you don't know what you are doing, you can ruin whatever it is that you are trying to clean.

Cautions and Uses

Dry cleaning fluid is extremely toxic, and some types are flammable. If you are dead-set on trying, be sure to follow directions carefully. Use in a well-ventilated area. Never use dry cleaning fluid in the washing machine or the dryer. If it gets on some fabric that needs to be washed and dried, you will need to hand wash the item completely and possibly repeat a few times to make sure all of the solvents have been removed.

Always test first in a hidden area to see how your upholstery or carpet will react. To use, blot a small amount using a clean white cloth. Use it sparingly—a little goes a long way. Blot away the stain and fluid using a clean white cloth, changing the cloth as the stain comes up. When the stain has been completely removed, you still need to rinse as much of the solvent away as possible

Take a wet clean white cloth and blot up as much of the solution as you can. Keep repeating until the solvent has been removed and the area is damp. If you don't remove enough of the solvent, you may be left with a ring around the stained area, so take your time and be diligent.

Where to Find Dry Cleaning Fluid

Like many cleaning supplies, dry cleaning fluid is widely available online. You can also find dry cleaning fluid at commercial cleaning supply stores especially ones that sell carpet cleaning supplies. Don't expect to find it on your local grocery store shelves. You will probably have to do some digging to find this in a store and most likely will only find it in a store that sells to commercial carpet and cleaning companies. Shopping online may be your best bet.

Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Drycleaning. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.