What is dry cleaning? What clothes are cleaned with this method?

Dry cleaning or conventional washing in a household washing machine? For delicate materials that easily pill, the choice is simple. Only cleaning with the use of special detergents will allow you to remove persistent dirt while maintaining the clothes in good condition. What does dry cleaning involve? Check out what exactly happens with your clothes handed out to a dry-cleaner’s.

Published: 5-09-2023

What is dry cleaning and how is it different from washing?

Dry (chemical) cleaning is a process where clothes are cleaned with special detergents. These usually include a solvent: tetrachloroethylene. Unlike the washing normally done at home, dry cleaning does not require water.

The whole cycle is carried out in special equipment called chemical units. The clothes are placed in their container along with the solvent. Then they are cleaned and dried. The units are also used for regenerating the detergent. It is subjected to distillation after which it can be reused. Dry cleaning is thus more ecological than it seems. Unlike household cleaning methods, it does not require high quantities of water or detergents.

What is tetrachloroethylene?

The substance used for dry cleaning, tetrachloroethylene, is an organic compound having a sweet smell and the form of a liquid. It is an ethene derivative where hydrogen has been replaced with chlorine atoms. In addition to stain removal, it is also good as a solvent and cleaning agent.

Tetrachloroethylene has also contributed to combating one of the parasitic diseases occurring in tropical climate. People involved in dry cleaning should remember that direct contact with that chemical is hazardous to health; the substance is even suspected to be carcinogenic. However, the dry cleaning processes are designed in such a way to maximally reduce that risk.

Is dry cleaning effective?

Tetrachloroethylene is a detergent with low viscosity and low surface tension. These properties make it excellent for removing stains, especially those of organic origin. The substance easily penetrates into fibres and helps to remove heavy dirt. It dries out fast and leaves no traces on the clothes. But most importantly, it is completely safe to fabrics even though its effect is extremely intensive.

Such a method of removing stains from clothing is not only effective but also quick. The whole cleaning cycle, including spinning and ironing, lasts up to 1.5 hours. The clothes left at the dry cleaner’s are usually ready to pick up on the next day.

Dry cleaning and safety: what clothes can be cleaned with solvents?

For some fabrics, dry cleaning is the only reasonable option. This applies to delicate materials, which could expand and change their shape when affected by water, as well as materials being thick or susceptible to pilling. Dry cleaning works well for silk, wool, velvet, chiffon, velveteen, or natural leather. Since this method of removing dirt does not use water, the clothes are ready to wear immediately. This is an advantage that will be most appreciated if we have clothes that absorb a lot of water and dry for a long time, such as coats or suits made of wool.

What can be cleaned chemically? In case of any doubts, you should always check the information on the label. If it contains the relevant symbol (the letter P in a circle), it means that the piece of clothing is suitable for dry cleaning and should not be washed in a household washing machine or by hand.

Dry cleaner’s or cleaning at home?

Dry cleaning should never be performed at home. The accessibility of detergents and the desire to save money on laundry services can be tempting. However, you should remember that dry cleaning involves extremely strong chemicals that can be harmful in household conditions. Only dry cleaners’ facilities have the appropriate equipment that makes the cleaning process entirely safe.

Is dry cleaning safe for thehealth?

If the whole process is carried out with the use of professional equipment and cleaning agents, and according to safety rules, then you do not need to worry about your health. This concerns both the owner of the clothes and the dry cleaner’s personnel. The personnel have no direct contact with the detergents, and the cleaning is performed in a closed cycle. In addition, if you run a dry cleaner’s facility, you should choose high-quality preparations based on raw materials and additives supplied by reputable manufacturers such as the PCC Group. Certified products of good quality ensure a higher level of safety if the product is used as intended. Please also note that dry cleaning includes drying and airing of the clothes, which removes tetrachloroethylene from their fibres.

  1. https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/31373
  2. https://www.products.pcc.eu/pl/id/16740/chlor/
  3. https://www.britannica.com/technology/dry-cleaning

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