Have you wondered how dry cleaning was discovered and what happens to your clothes when you send them to the dry cleaners? If you do, read on.
Dry cleaning is a process of cleaning clothes or fabrics with the use of organic solvents instead of water. It is most recommended for delicate fabrics that may not do well with daily washing. These fabrics or clothing is soaked in a solvent to remove the oils associated with the stain on the material. The main benefit from dry cleaning is the capability to dissolve these oils and grease the way in which water will not be able to do.
Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Jolly, is credited for this process. It had been told that he had discovered the stain-removal potential of kerosene when his maid accidentally spilled the kerosene on a dirty tablecloth. As soon as the tablecloth had dried, the stains had disappeared.
Among the different solvents utilized in the early periods of dry cleaning were kerosene, gasoline, turpentine and benzene that have often resulted to a number of explosions and fire incidences. Within the 1900's, chlorinated hydrocarbons were developed. Among the current and popular solvent for dry cleaning is tetrachloroethylene, called PERC or perchloroethylene. In addition to PERC, other substances are also utilized including hydrogen peroxide, mineral spirits, ammonia, petroleum naphtha and acetic acid.
Today's dry cleaning procedure in establishments involves mainly, tagging and pre-treatment for visible stains. The clothes are then placed for spinning in big PERC containing equipment. After the typical wash cycle, a rinse cycle follows wherein the dry cleaning solvent is extracted and recovered for reuse. The drying cycle comes next. During this process, the clothes or fabrics are tumbled in a basket with warm air to evaporate traces of the solvent. Once the drying cycle is done, clothing and textiles then undergo a deodorizing or aeration cycle which further removes any remaining traces of the solvent.
Be particularly mindful and adhere to the dry cleaners' instructions to take the plastic off of your dry cleaned garments and then leave it out in the open for some time. PERC leaves unpleasant smell on fabric which may cause dizziness, nausea, headache along with other skin and respiratory problems. It may be poisonous even with minor exposure.