The dry cleaning process uses solvents to clean clothes and fabrics without any water. The most commonly used solvent is tetracholoroethylene. Dry cleaning is a service provided by a company with the special equipment required to dry clean materials and safely dispose of the waste product. This is a fee for use service, with a flat rate for different fabric types and additional charges for stain removal.
There are four stages to the dry cleaning process: accepting the clothing, inspection, washing, and drying. All four stages are required for every item that is dry cleaned. The dry cleaning process involves harsh chemicals and there have been changes to the process as part of a strategy to reduce the environmental impact of the waste product. However, you can check with your dry cleaner to determine if they are using environmentally friendly processes.
Check the care label in your garments to ensure that they can be dry cleaned. If you have any doubt, check with the dry cleaner. He or she will inspect the material and will be able to advise you on the best cleaning method. Some materials, such as cotton shirts, do not require dry cleaning. However, many people take these shirts to the dry cleaner to be steamed and pressed.
Inspect the clothing for any stains, tears, loose buttons or threads. It is important to advise the dry cleaner of these items before he or she accepts the garments. In the dry cleaning processes, loose threads can unravel the clothes and buttons can be lost. Stains can be pretreated and removed, but only before the process begins.
In the washing stage of the dry cleaning process, the clothes are placed inside a chamber that rotates within a larger cylinder that holds the solvent. Solvent is added to the inner chamber until it is one-third full and the clothing is agitated. This lasts for approximately 15 minutes, using the standard chemicals. If hydrocarbon solvents or environmentally friendly chemicals are used, the process takes at least 25 minutes.
After the wash cycle, there is a rise cycle, where fresh solvent is loaded into the machine. This is done to prevent the dirt from being reabsorbed by the garments. At the end of this cycle the extraction process begins, which removes almost all of the solvent used. In the drying cycle, the clothes are placed into a stream of air heated to 145°F (63°C). The air evaporates any traces of the solvent from the garments and a light scent is added to mask the chemical smell.