The dry-cleaning and laundry services industry is worth USD 60.88 billion, but have you ever wondered what types of dry cleaning chemicals are used on your clothes? Maybe you're curious how it works and how they clean your favorite garments.
There are various chemicals used in dry cleaning, and we go over each of them in this guide. Keep reading to demystify the dry cleaning process.
Perchloroethylene or Perc is one of the most common dry cleaning chemicals. It's a solvent that can dissolve greases, waxes, and oils. It doesn't damage fabrics, which is why it's often used at the dry cleaners to clean your clothing.
There are some concerns over whether perc is safe or not, but the levels of perc on dry cleaned clothes are minimal.
Individuals that wear dry cleaned clothes are more exposed to perchloroethylene, though workers are more at risk due to increased exposure. However, OSHA recommends certain safety guidelines to help protect workers against exposure to perc.
This dry cleaning fluid by Exxon Mobil is sometimes used in dry cleaning as an alternative to perc. This solvent, which is petroleum-based, is called an environmentally friendly alternative to perchloroethylene.
DF-2000 is safe for use on delicate fabrics. It removes grease and oil stains from clothing.
If you're concerned about exposure to DF-2000, remove the plastic cover from your clothes before bringing it inside.
Another example of petroleum-based solvents used in dry cleaning is EcoSolv by Chevron Phillips.
N-propyl bromide (nPB) or 1-Bromopropane (1BP) solvent is another vapor degreaser used in dry cleaning. It helps to lift stains from the fabric of your clothes.
Liquid Carbon Dioxide
This is yet another alternative to perc. However, it's quite expensive to use as it requires special machinery. This can put it out of reach for smaller dry cleaners that can't afford the equipment.
Some professionals in the laundry industry claim that liquid carbon dioxide doesn't have the same cleaning power.
This type of chemical solvent is often called a more environmentally friendly option than perc. In some instances, it may even be more effective.
One example, dipropylene glycol tertiary butyl ether (DPTB), has a solvency level equal to or better than perc, as well as a higher flashpoint. A flashpoint is the lowest temperature a chemical like DPTB can be to vaporize and form ignitable vapors. Higher flashpoints are less flammable and less hazardous.
DPTB could one day become a replacement for perchloroethylene.
Decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (D5) is more gentle on clothes than perchloroethylene. It's more environmentally friendly than perc and won't cause any color loss.
D5 isn't used as much in dry cleaning due to the high cost of use, but it could become more affordable in the future.
Your dry cleaners may use a method known as wet cleaning. This method is more environmentally friendly as it uses biodegradable soaps to remove stains on clothing. These soaps and conditioners are safe for garments that say "dry clean only."
It's easy to adjust the water temperature, amount of detergent, agitation options, and more with specialized machines. Your dry cleaner can adjust the settings for each item that needs cleaning.
It's also said that wet cleaning is more gentle on clothing as it puts less stress on fabrics.
Dry Cleaning Chemicals: Is One Method Better Than the Others?
Dry cleaning uses chemical solvents to lift stains and clean clothes. These solvents aren't strong enough to work in a washing machine. Wet cleaning involves water, biodegradable soaps, and computer-controlled washers.
There are pros and cons to both dry cleaning and wet cleaning.
Some of the advantages of dry cleaning using solvents include the ability to lift oil and grease stains. Grease and oil aren't water-soluble, which is why dry cleaners use solvents to lift those stains.
A con to dry cleaning solvents is that details like beads or sequins can dissolve or change color. Some chemicals used by low-cost dry cleaners can sometimes turn white clothes a greyish color.
Wet cleaning is considered more environmentally friendly due to the eco-friendly detergents used. There's no risk of colors fading or changing. Also, garments may feel softer when they are wet cleaned versus when they are cleaned with solvents.
There may be a need for spot removers or pretreatment methods when wet cleaning. Wet cleaning also may not remove stubborn stains like grease.
So the best type of dry cleaning method may come down to the type of stain on your clothes, affordability, availability, and your preferences.
What Does Your Dry Cleaner Use?
As we mentioned, there are advantages and disadvantages to the different methods. If you're curious about what your dry cleaner uses, give them a call or check their website for more information. It's likely you'll be able to find more information on their methods.
Making Dry Cleaning More Convenient
Now you know a little bit more about how dry cleaning chemicals work and the various types of chemicals and detergents used to clean your clothes. You're probably ready to grab some of your clothes and head to your local dry cleaners to get them cleaned. However, did you know there's a better way?
A dry cleaning app is a service that makes it easy and convenient to get your clothes dry cleaned. If you're too busy to take your clothes to the dry cleaners, using a laundry service app lets you outsource your laundry.
Leave your laundry to a dry cleaning app and never have to worry about which dry cleaners to choose or whether they'll be able to lift those stubborn stains from your favorite clothes.
Dry Cleaning Made Easy
There's a lot that happens behind the scenes at the dry cleaners. These are some of the most common dry cleaning chemicals and methods used to treat and clean your clothing.
For dry cleaning made easy, leave it to us. Check out our dry cleaning services and download our app today.