Did You Know: How Does Dry Cleaning Work?

Ever wondered how dry cleaning works and what really happens to your clothes when they visit the dry cleaners? Well here’s a little insight into the dry cleaning process and how it helps to clean and care for your items.

The process is referred to as ‘dry’ cleaning because it differs from regular machine washing, in that there is no water involved. Washing, with no water? Sounds strange doesn’t it? However, the name is a little misleading as there are other liquids involved in the process, namely solvents.

The process of cleaning clothes with a solvent was discovered in 1855 by Jean Baptiste Jolly, a French dye-works owner. It is said that a kerosene lamp was knocked over onto a table cloth, to which he found became much cleaner following the accident.

As the new cleaning technique developed, new chemicals were used and perchlorethylene (perc) became the preferred dry cleaning solvent for many years, being both fast and effective.

More recently however, many dry cleaners are now turning to a purer, more natural solvent, such as pure liquid silicone which is also very effective but much kinder to the environment.

First, your items are inspected and tagged. This ensures that your clothes can be easily identified and that all your items are linked up after cleaning. It also ensures that any missing buttons or tears are noted prior to the dry cleaning process. This is a precautionary, quality-control measure that simply safeguards the dry cleaner from being held responsible for any existing faults.

The dry cleaner then looks closely for any stains and pre-treats them to make stain removal easier and more effective. To assist the effectiveness of this pre-treatment, we would also advise you to apply water and blot any stains or apply a home stain treatment product immediately, before bringing it to the dry cleaners if at all possible.

Following pre-treatment, the items are transferred to a machine where the dry cleaning itself takes place. This is when the dry cleaning solvent is added as a constant spray into the barrel. The clothes are gently agitated to encourage cleaning. The temperature is kept low to protect the clothes, but not too low to be ineffective. A second cycle drains and spins clothes to expel the solvents, followed by a third ‘dry’ cycle which circulates warm air through the clothes.

The dry cleaner needs to control the filters, solvent condition and moisture in order to maintain a quality service and a successful dry cleaning business.

Following the dry cleaning stage, stubborn stains are post-treated with an additional stain remover for maximum effect.

The final part of the dry cleaning process involves the pressing, folding and packaging of your items, smartening them up in preparation for collection, or delivery.

Voila! The job’s done.

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