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How Does Dry Cleaning Really Work

Dry Cleaning LondonDry cleaning is a specialized fabric treatment process which originated within the tailoring industry in the early 1800’s.

Modern dry cleaning’s origins are credited to a man by the name of Thomas Jennings, who first started using solvent based cleaning solutions to treat synthetic and hard to clean textiles.

Throughout the 19th and 20th century, dry cleaning solutions rapidly developed from more rudimentary approaches, like kerosene and gasoline, to chemicals like PCE, which was first synthesized in 1821 by Michael Farady.

Since then dry cleaning has become one of the major ways any sort of professional cleaning service would approach hard to clean materials that would otherwise shrink from high heat and water.

What Does Dry Cleaning Mean

Despite the name, dry cleaning is a process which uses liquids solvents to clean stains from water sensitive textiles like wool. Usually this process involves several cycles of cleaning, which often rely on the mechanized help of dry cleaning machines.

In the clothing industry, dry cleaning is widely used due to its safe and gentle nature with delicate textiles like silk and natural wool. In home and dry carpet cleaning, dry cleaners use specialized equipment sets which simulates the larger-scale mechanism which best describe dry cleaning.

How Many Types of Dry Cleaning are There

Dry cleaning can generally be separated into to three different categories – industrial, domestic and clothes based. Industrial cleaning is focused on cleaning a large amount of clothes, mostly as a part of the latter post production in the manufacturing of garments and clothing in general.

The domestic dry cleaning process is the sort of dry cleaning that we at provide, which is focused towards the precise remove of grime, stains and dirt from rugs and carpets, beds and furniture.

Clothes based dry cleaning is tailored towards the end needs of a consumer who has already bought a mass produces piece of clothing. It can be found all around the UK in the form of specialized services which clean your clothes for you.

What Sort of Dry Cleaning Chemicals are Used in the 21st Century

The most widely known and used type of dry cleaning chemical is perchloroethylene or PCE. It is an ethylene chemical compound from the chlorocarbon chemical group.

Due to its close bond to chlorine, it’s a great agent against organic matter, acting as a solvent for its base molecules, allowing them to dissolve upon contact.

Another type of chemical which is most often used in green dry cleaning is decamethylcyclopentasiloxane a.k.a Green Earth. It is a slightly volatile compound which acts as a spotting agent and similarly to PCE, helps dissolve organic materials more easily.

It does not pose any significant health concerns nor does it have any major environmental adverse affects to aquatic life.

What is the Difference Between Detergents and Dry Cleaning Chemicals?

While detergents are most often thought to be used primarily in laundering processes (washing clothes with water), they can also be used in dry cleaning procedures.

There is, however, a major difference between detergents and dry cleaning chemicals as the latter is the main acting agent and can often clean on its own.

During the dry cleaning process, detergents may or may not be present and aid during a specific period of soiling removal.

Detergents are chemically different than PCE (the most common dry cleaning chemical) as they are bound to a different set of esters. While PCE is from the ethylene family, most detergents rely on a totally different set of chemical reactions to act within the structure of textile fibers.

As the name might suggest, detergents deter grime and soiling from gathering onto the fabric, which means they linger onto the fabric molecules. PCE is 100% removed from the fabric once the cleaning process is done.

How does Dry Cleaning Work

Mobile dry cleaning, such as the one we provide, uses a specialized portable dry cleaning machine which has three separate compartments. One compartment is for the type of solvent we will be using in the process – the choice of which depends on the type of soiling and fabric material.

There is a filtering compartment which filters and cycles through the solvent in order to remove any hard impurities which might contaminate the fabric.

The third compartment is the dry and wet pump portion, which circulates the solvent into the fabric, which is focused onto the affected spot with a narrowing nozzle. The circulation of the solvent through the fabric removes the stains, which are then extracted with a wet vacuum.

Dry cleaning chemicals are an effective solution to quite a lot of soiling problems, because they:

  • Carry water away from water-based soils and stains which aids in their removal;
  • Chemically suspend stains so they do not reabsorb back into the fabric or material;
  • Fully penetrate the fabric and act as a “spotting agent” working both sides of the stain to fully remove it from the fabric.

Depending on the type of material, non water-based detergents will be added during the dry cleaning process into the chemical mix to aid in the removal of hard to extract soils.

Is Dry Cleaning Safe for Home Use

UK law mandates that a professional and licensed dry cleaner is to use bio-degradable, safe cleaning solutions, as well as to provide the means for their disposal and total extraction from domestic and commercial areas.

In order to dry clean in the 21st century, all services must provide evidence of the possession of cleaning solutions from the ranks of decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (a.k.a Green Earth).

PCE or perchloroethylene, can be quite harmful to the human body if ingested or if it’s vapors are inhaled. Health and Safety Administrations highly suggest wearing PPE (personal protective equipment) when using PCE for cleaning.

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