Unlike washing machines, which use water and detergents to clean clothes and fabrics, dry cleaners use liquid solvents to lift stubborn stains. Read on to find out more about the process, including how it works and why it is important to take your clothes to a professional dry cleaner.
What Is A Dry Cleaning Machine?
A dry cleaner’s machine is large, computer-controlled and uses industrial solvents to clean your clothes instead of water. These solvents are distilled, crystal clear and pure and recirculated throughout the process to eliminate waste and to ensure the highest quality clean possible.
The dry cleaning process was first developed in 1820 by Thomas Jennings. His process involved putting clothing into a sealed container with a highly volatile solvent, which removed dirt and lifted stains. Early solvents, such as gasoline, kerosene, turpentine and petroleum, were flammable and dangerous, resulting in frequent fires and explosions in dry cleaners’ shops. Later, nonflammable, synthetic solvents such as Stoddard solvent (white spirit) and decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (GreenEarth) were introduced.
Perchloroethylene (perc) remains the most common solvent used in commercial dry cleaning, but it is being phased out over environmental concerns and health risks. Minimal exposure to perc can cause dizziness, drowsiness and nausea, while prolonged exposure has been linked to liver and kidney damage and cancer. Many dry cleaners are now using an alternative solvent such as liquid carbon dioxide.
How Does A Dry Cleaning Machine Work?
Dry cleaners use solvents to clean fabrics, rather than water. This is because water can damage certain fabrics such as wool, leather and silk. It can also wreak havoc on buttons, lace and sequins. The machine also uses heated hydrocarbon solvents to dissolve dirt and soil.
Early solvents for cleaning clothing included gasoline, kerosene and turpentine, which are highly flammable and toxic. Today, most dry cleaners use perchloroethylene (perc) or decamethylcyclopentasiloxane to clean clothes. These chemicals are nonflammable and safer for the environment than kerosene or petroleum-based solvents.
The machine contains a holding tank that holds the solvent, a pump that circulates the liquid, and filters to trap solid impurities. The liquid is then transferred to a cylinder where the garments are placed. After the solvent interacts with the fabric, it is pumped back to the holding tank. The machine then rotates the cylinder and goes through an extraction cycle, similar to the final spin cycle in a washing machine.
What Are The Benefits Of Using A Dry Cleaning Machine?
Many people consider laundry to be one of the least favorite household chores. It’s no wonder – it takes hours to wash a load of clothes in the washing machine and another two or more to fold and put them away. And, let’s not forget about the dreaded ironing!
Dry cleaners provide a number of benefits. They use organic solvents that are gentle on fabric, but still effective at getting rid of dirt and stains. They can also service items such as blankets, thick upholstery and curtains that cannot be washed at home.
In addition to using nontoxic chemicals and methods, dry cleaners also offer a wide variety of pretreatment options that can be used to remove some of the most stubborn and persistent stains. They are also experts at removing wrinkles and achieving a finished look that is often superior to what can be achieved with a home washer and dryer.
What Are The Disadvantages Of Using A Dry Cleaning Machine?
A dry cleaner uses organic solvents to clean clothes and textiles without using water. This method is perfect for delicate fabrics, such as silk, wool and velvet. However, it can be expensive and time-consuming.
Another disadvantage of dry cleaning is that it can be difficult to remove large stains, especially those made from grease. This is because these stains are often embedded in the fabric and cannot be removed by water alone.
Finally, dry cleaning can be environmentally unfriendly. This is because the dry cleaning solvents used are toxic and can pollute the environment. For example, tetrachloroethylene (Perc) is a volatile organic compound that can cause damage to the soil and water. While modern dry cleaning machines capture and recapture most of the Perc emissions, there is still a significant amount that can escape into the air. This is why it is important to find a green dry cleaner that uses nontoxic chemicals. Fortunately, there are many dry cleaners that use nontoxic dry cleaning products.