There are certain fabrics wherein water and your detergent are not enough to remove stains. A good example of this is wool. Wool cannot handle water very well. Other fabrics such as rayon and silk may shrink or become misshapen when washed with regular water and laundry soap. These special fabrics require special stain removal treatment such as that of dry cleaning.
Instead of water, dry cleaning uses a substance called petroleum solvent. In the past, the solvent used in dry cleaning is kerosene or gasoline. Dry cleaning is a treatment process that works as effectively and as gentle as hand washing. It is called “dry” cleaning only because it is not “wet” with water.
Dry cleaning basically works by immersing the clothes in the petroleum solvent for a certain amount of time depending on the stain and type of fabric. The petroleum solvents are usually good at removing oil and grease based stains.
A typical wash lasts about 8 to 15 minutes. It depends on the type of garments and degree of soiling. Garments are placed into a washing/extortion chamber (commonly called basket or drum). The washing chamber contains a rotating horizontal, perforated drum that is situated in an outer shell. Its laundry load capacity is between 10 and 40 kg (20 to 80lb).
During the wash cycle, the chamber is filled with approximately 1/3 full of solvent. The machine begins to rotate and agitate. The solvent is maintained at 30 degrees Celsius.
The solvent in the chamber (a.k.a. “cage”) is passed through a filtration chamber and is fed back to the cage. The solvent is then removed. It will be sent to a distillation unit comprising a boiler and condenser. The condensed solvent is fed into a separator unit, in which the water is separated the solvent.
On the other hand, there is an ongoing debate with the use of the petroleum solvents in dry cleaning. According to medical experts, dry cleaners are at risk of numerous serious health effects due to their prolonged exposure to this solvent. Cases of eyes, nose and throat irritation were also reported in the past caused by solvent residues found in dry cleaned clothes.
Nevertheless, there are eco friendly alternatives you can try instead of dry cleaning such as progressive cleaner, steaming, hand washing and basic stain removal techniques. You can also try staying away from garments that needed dry cleaning services.