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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Behind the Scenes The Dry Cleaners Process

Do you have a pile of clothes in your closet that have been sitting there for ages, waiting to be worn again? Maybe The Science of Dry Cleaners: Exploring Solvents and Techniques

Have you ever wondered how your clothes come back clean and fresh from the dry cleaners? Dry cleaning is a process that involves more than just water and soap. It uses specific solvents to remove stains, dirt, and odours from fabrics without causing damage or shrinkage. 

In this blog post, we will explore the science behind dry cleaning by discussing the different types of solvents used and the techniques employed. We’ll also learn about how these chemicals can potentially harm fabrics and how to prevent such damage. So sit back, relax, and get ready for an in-depth dive into the world of dry cleaners!

What is Dry Cleaning?

Dry cleaning is a process used for cleaning and maintaining fabrics without the use of water. Instead, it uses specific solvents that dissolve dirt and stains from the surface of garments. This method is particularly useful for delicate materials such as silk, cashmere, or wool.

The first step in dry cleaning involves pre-treating any visible stains on the fabric using specialised detergents or solvents to loosen them. Next, the clothes are loaded into a machine where they are cleaned with one of two types of solvent: perchloroethylene (PERC) or hydrocarbon-based solvents.

Once the clothes have been washed, they go through another cycle to remove all traces of solvent before being pressed and steamed to restore their shape and appearance. The final result is fresh-smelling clothes that look like new again!

One important thing to note about dry cleaning is that it’s not just limited to clothing items; it can also be used for household items such as curtains, bedding sets, and upholstery. Whether you need your favourite dress cleaned or want your living room drapes refreshed, dry cleaners have got you covered!

Types of Solvents Used in Dry Cleaning

In the world of dry cleaning, solvents are the key ingredients used to remove stains and dirt from fabrics. These solvents can vary in their chemical makeup and effectiveness depending on the type of fabric being cleaned.

The most commonly used solvent in dry cleaning is perchloroethylene, also known as “perc.” This solvent has been used for decades due to its ability to effectively clean a wide range of fabrics without causing damage. However, it’s important to note that perc is a hazardous chemical and must be handled with care by trained professionals.

Another popular solvent option is hydrocarbon-based solvents which are considered more eco-friendly than perc. These solvents work well on delicate fabrics such as silk and wool without causing any damage or discolouration.

Liquid carbon dioxide is another alternative solvent that has recently gained popularity due to its non-toxic nature. This method uses pressurised CO2 gas which acts as a gentle cleaner while leaving no residue behind.

Silicone-based solvents are becoming increasingly popular due to their effectiveness in removing even tough stains while being environmentally friendly. 

Silicone-based solvents do not contain any harmful chemicals, making them safe for use on all types of fabric, including leather, suede, and fur. Hire Laundry Service London.

There are various types of solvents available for dry cleaners today, each with its own unique benefits depending on the situation at hand.

What are the Different Techniques Used in Dry Cleaning?

Dry cleaning is a specialised process that removes dirt, stains and other contaminants from fabrics. But how does it work? There are several different techniques used in dry cleaning, each with its own unique benefits.

One of the most common methods is called “perc” or perchloroethylene. This solvent is often used because it can dissolve oils and greases without damaging delicate fabrics. Another popular option is carbon dioxide (CO2) cleaning, which uses pressurised CO2 to remove dirt and stains.

Other techniques include hydrocarbon solvents, which are less toxic than perc but can still be harmful if ingested or inhaled. Wet cleaning uses water-based solutions to clean fabrics rather than solvents, making it a more environmentally friendly option.

Each technique has its own advantages and drawbacks, so choosing the right one depends on factors like fabric type and level of soiling. A skilled dry cleaner will assess your garment’s needs and choose the best method for achieving optimal results.

How do Solvents Damage Fabric?

Solvents used by dry cleaners can cause damage to fabrics if not handled properly. The chemicals used in the process can weaken fibres, causing them to break or become discoloured. 

One common way solvents damage fabric is by dissolving dyes and other finishes on the material. This can result in colour fading or bleeding, leaving unsightly stains that are difficult to remove.

In addition, some solvents have a drying effect on fabrics which leads to shrinkage and wrinkling of clothes. The heat generated during the drying process also contributes to this problem.

Another issue with solvent use is that it may leave behind chemical residues that irritate the skin and cause allergic reactions. These compounds do not always wash out easily with water alone, requiring special treatments for removal.

To prevent solvent damage from occurring on your favourite garments, it’s essential to choose a reputable dry cleaner who understands how different solvents affect specific types of fabric. They should know what level of heat and moisture each type requires so they don’t ruin delicate items.

Understanding how solvents can harm fabrics will help you make informed decisions about where you take your clothing for cleaning purposes so that you avoid any unwanted surprises like discolouration or shrinking!

How to Prevent Solvent Damage to Fabric

Preventing solvent damage to fabric is crucial in ensuring the longevity of your clothing. Here are some tips on how to protect your clothes:

  1. Choose a reputable dry cleaner: Research and choose a dry cleaner with good reviews and experience in handling delicate fabrics.
  2. Inspect garments before cleaning: Check for any stains or damages before bringing them to the dry cleaners, as solvents can set stains permanently.
  3. Communicate special care instructions: Inform the dry cleaner if your garment has any special care instructions, such as avoiding high temperatures or certain types of solvents.
  4. Opt for eco-friendly options: Look for a dry cleaner that uses eco-friendly solvents, which are less harsh on fabrics and the environment.
  5. Air out garments after cleaning: Allow freshly cleaned garments to air out before wearing them, as residual solvent fumes can be harmful to health.

By taking these preventive measures, you can ensure that your clothes stay clean without sacrificing their quality and durability over time.


Dry cleaning is a crucial process that helps to keep our clothes looking fresh and clean for longer. It involves using special solvents and techniques that are designed to remove dirt and stains without damaging the fabric. 

However, as we have seen in this article, not all solvents are created equal, and some can be more harmful than others.

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