Contrary to popular belief, dry cleaning actually involves liquids. However, the cleaning solvents used are waterless, hence the term “dry” cleaning.
The beginning of dry cleaning dates back to the days of Pompeii. Roman cleaners were called Fullers. They used cleaners, such as lye, ammonia, urine, and “fuller’s earth” (clay), to clean soil and grease from their clothing.
In the mid 1800s, Jean Baptiste Jolly accidentally tipped his kerosene lamp on his tablecloth. The result? The kerosene left the tablecloth clean! After that serendipitous discovery, Jean Baptiste Jolly offered a new laundering service, which is known as “dry cleaning” today.
Because early dry cleaners used petroleum-based solvents, such as benzene, camphene, petrol, and kerosene, dry cleaning was a dangerous profession. These solvents, although effective, were highly flammable and combustible.
After WWI, dry cleaners switched over to chlorinated solvents, which were less flammable. Perchloroethylene (perc) was the popular choice because of its exceptional cleaning ability and its non-combustible properties.
Today, dry cleaners use hydrocarbon, GreenEarth, and even perc, although perc is on the chopping block because of its toxic properties. Perc is being phased out of dry cleaning facilities, and will gone completely by 2023. For more information from American Drycleaner on the perc ban in California, click here.
Margaret’s offers GreenEarth, which is a patented liquid silicone dry cleaning solution. GreenEarth is an environmentally safe alternative to perc, and it’s also more gentle on clothing. Margararet’s also uses hydrocarbon solvents and other specialty solvents to clean clothing. Margaret’s regularly filters the cleaning solutions to remove impurities that can cause chemical odors and the dingy, grayish tinge that appears on some dry cleaned clothing.
Knowledge is power! Make sure you ask your dry cleaner which solvent it uses on clothing and how often they filter the cleaning solutions.
Tell us: What is your best or worst experience with a dry cleaner? Did you have an amazing dry cleaner who spot-cleaned an oil stain? Or did you have a dry cleaner who ruined your garment? Let us know in the comments below!