Dry cleaning was discovered that the chemical called solvent was able to remove stains on textile products in the 1800s. Of course, the chemicals used since those years were replaced with liquids which are more environmentally friendly and low chemical rate. According to researches, the first dry cleaning shop in the world was opened in Paris, where is called «Capital of Fashion» by Jolly Belin.
Dry Cleaning Technologies from The Roman Empire
The first dry cleaning shops in history are seen in Pompeii, which was a city in the Roman Empire has been formed by a volcano eruption. The dry cleaning methods used at that time definitely were not the same as in the present. However, the purpose was exactly the same. Using water to wash delicate fabrics that could be destroyed by more traditional and more powerful cleaning methods. Ancient Roman dry cleaners produced a mixture of ammonia and similar substances from human and animal urine. It is possible that you can doubt how a substance from the urine will provide cleaning but it was very useful for removing stains, impurities, and sweats on clothes.
After Jolly Belin’s discovery, his method spread all over the world. Experiments were carried out to find materials that could give similar results to the material Jolly used. Even if previous chemicals used in dry cleaning were good, they consisted of materials that negatively affect human health. The biggest risk was that these solutions were flammable. Even so, fires in the dry cleaning shops began to emerge. For this reason, local authorities decided to establish dry cleaning shops outside the city. Although this situation caused distress to many dry cleaners, it encouraged them to look for other solutions.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the government set strict rules for dry cleaners using highly flammable oil solvents. In the 1900s, dry cleaners turned to chlorinated solvents that were less flammable than petroleum. These solvents were still doing a good job of cleaning the fabrics without any damage. One of the chlorinated solutions used by dry cleaners was tetrachloromethane. Even though tetrachloromethane was less flammable and a superior cleaner, it had both toxic and a corrosive characteristic. For all these reasons, in the late 1950s, this substance was removed from the dry cleaning process.
By the 1930s, there was a perchloroethylene solvent known as perch in the sector. Due to its high efficiency, this solvent was preferred among many dry cleaners. Perk was very effective and soft in removing dirt and stains, it did not show any flammable effects on most fabrics as well. Today, Perk is still the most common chemical used by dry cleaners.
Well, what are the disadvantages of perchloroethylene?
We know that this solvent is also chemical as its predecessors, there are of course some disadvantages, as well as its advantages. Although it is not flammable, if the waste part is released to the atmosphere after use in dry cleaning, it forms toxic for plants and animals. According to the results of the Environmental Protection Agency’s research, it is emphasized that in the dry-cleaning industry, workers remain in danger as long as they stay at the same place with chemicals. Since Perch is considered as a dangerous substance, environmental organizations around the world have made arrangements to minimize damage.
The Future of Dry Cleaning
Dry cleaning industry had to be changed through the increasing sensitivity of societies towards environmental problems.
In fact, today there are two options which are much healthier for human being and nature and giving effective cleaning results. One of these methods is carbon dioxide cleaning. This method compresses and liquids carbon dioxide coming out from other industrial processes. Afterward, liquid carbon dioxide is mixed with detergents to wash various types of fabric as a result of that liquid carbon dioxide is recovered. In subsequent operations, it is gassed and stored for use.
Another method can be defined as wet cleaning with water. This method differs from known standard dry cleaning methods because water is used during processing. However, in this way, delicate fabrics are not damaged under no circumstances. It also gives the same result as the dry cleaning methods that are known for cleaning stains and dirt. Specially developed soft machines are used to dampen and reshape clothes in wet cleaning. Wet cleaning with water can be shown as the most environmentally friendly dry cleaning method present in the world.
As Monteleone, we continue to follow today’s technologies closely to become the pioneer of the dry cleaning industry. We aim to direct dry cleaning industry with both fabrics, human and also environmentally friendly investments.