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Dry Cleaning

Dry Cleaning Information

What is Dry Cleaning?

Dry cleaning is a process whereby garments are cleaned without the use of water. The cleaning fluid that is used for this process is liquid, and garments are immersed and cleaned in a liquid solvent.

How are my garments dry-cleaned?

Once you have dropped your dry cleaning off at the shop, your garments are tagged (so that they don't get muddled up) and inspected for wear and tear. This is so that they don't get blamed. If there are many stains on the garments, these get pre-treated first. The garments are then popped into a machine, and cleaned. Once this process has been completed, the garments will be checked again for any lingering stains. The garments when completely clean, are then pressed, and packaged ready for collection by you. The dry cleaning solvent used in this process is captured, and re-used again.

What chemicals are used for dry cleaning?

Mainly with chlorinated hydrocarbons. The most commonly used solvent is called perchloroethylene, also known as 'perc'. It is meant to be quite toxic, and has also been linked to kidney and liver damage (although no studies have actually conclusively proven that).

Are there 'greener' alternatives?

If you really do need to use dry cleaners, there are alternative methods that can be used during the dry cleaning process, which is better for the environment. These are:

* Wet cleaning. This process uses biodegradable soap and water. Machines used in this process keep the garment at stretched to keep it at its natural size. This is an alternative method that can clean up to 99% of 'dry clean only' garments.

* Silicon and liquid co2 solvents. This is a fairly new process, and it is still being developed. There are only a handful of laundrettes using this alternative at the moment.

* Alternative hydrocarbon solvents. Similar to the standard used for dry cleaning. This process is more widely available, and results are meant to be just as good as a standard dry clean.

Check with dry cleaners in your local area to see if they use a 'perc' free process.

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