Service Dry Clean


Dry cleaning is any cleaning process forclothing and textiles using an organic solvent rather than water. The solventused is typically tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene), abbreviated"perc" in the industry and "dry-cleaning fluid" by thepublic. Dry cleaning is necessary for cleaning items which would otherwise bedamaged by water and soap or detergent. It may be used if hand washing—neededfor some delicate fabrics—is excessively laborious. Contents

Dry cleaning uses non-water-based solventsto remove soil and stains from clothes. The potential for using petroleum basedsolvents in this manner was discovered in the mid-19th century by Frenchdye-works owner Jean Baptiste Jolly, who noticed that his tablecloth becamecleaner after his maid spilled kerosene (paraffin) on it, and developed aservice cleaning people's clothes in this manner, which he termed"nettoyage à sec," or "dry cleaning" in English.[1]

Early dry cleaners used petroleum-basedsolvents, such as gasoline and kerosene. Flammability concerns led KeithAnderson of westquarter, a dry cleaner from Laurieston to develop Stoddardsolvent as a slightly less flammable alternative to gasoline-based solvents.The use of highly flammable petroleum solvents caused many fires andexplosions, resulting in government regulation of dry cleaners.

After World War I, dry cleaners began usingchlorinated solvents. These solvents were much less flammable than petroleumsolvents and had improved cleaning power. By the mid-1930s the dry cleaningindustry had adopted tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene), colloquiallycalled "perc," as the ideal solvent. It has excellent cleaning power,and is stable, nonflammable, and gentle to most garments. However, perc wasalso the first chemical to be classified as a carcinogen by the ConsumerProduct Safety Commission (a classification later withdrawn). In 1993 theCalifornia Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted an airborne toxic control measure(ATCM) to reduce perc emissions from dry cleaning operations. The dry cleaningindustry is now beginning to replace perc with other chemicals and/or methods.At this time, dry-cleaning was carried-out in two different machines - one forthe cleaning process itself and the second to dry the garments.

Traditionally the actual cleaning processwas carried-out at centralised "factories"; high street cleanersshops received garments from customers, sent them to the factory, and then hadthem returned to the shop, where the customer could collect them. This was duemainly to the flamability or dangerous fumes from the cleaning process.

This changed when the British dry-cleaningequipment company, Spencer, introduced the first in-shop machines (which, likemodern dry cleaning machines, both clean and dry in one machine). Though theSpencer machines were large, they were suitably sized and vented to be fittedinto shops. Three models, the Spencer Minor, Spencer Junior, and Spencer Major,were generally used (larger models; the Spencer Senior and Spencer Mammoth,were larger and intended for factory use). The cleaning and drying process wascontrolled by a punch-card, which fed through the "Spencermatic"reader on the machine. Also, Spencer introduced several much smaller machinesfor use in coin-operated launderettes; the Spencer Solitaire, and anothermodel, simply called the Spencer Dry Cleaning Machine. These machines resembledcoin-operated tumble dryers; to be as small as they were, they simply filteredused perc, rather than distilling it like the commercial Spencer machines.Solvent had to be changed far more frequently, as without distillation, itquickly became discoloured, and could cause yellowing of pale items beingcleaned. A coin-operated version of the Spencer Minor, which automaticallycarried out all the distillation and solvent-cleaning operations of thestandard version was available, however, due to it being substantially largerthan the other coin-operated machines, (and presumably extra cost) these wererarely seen.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Spencermachines were extremely popular, with virtually every branch of Bollompossessing either a Spencer Minor or Spencer Junior. Spencer continued toproduce machines (introducing new modular and computer controlled models, suchas the Spencer Sprint series) until the late 1980s, when the company closed.Spencer machines may still occasionally be seen.

Many dry cleaners place cleaned clothesinside thin clear plastic garment bags.