There are two general ways to “wash” your garments – traditional laundering and newer dry cleaning. We all know how the laundering looks like – you need to take warm water, take some kind of soap and find some place to put it all together. Then you need to use a power to mix it up and remove the dirt by friction. A process known for thousands of years. But what is the process of dry cleaning?
Dry cleaning is just washing garments using any chemical solvent other than water. Garments are placed in the washing chamber that contains a horizontal, perforated, rotating drum that rotates within an outer shell. The shell holds the solvent and the drum holds the laundry. In the typical washing process the chamber is filled with solvent and begins to rotate, agitating clothing. The solvent temperature is usually not higher than 30 degrees because high temperatures could damage the garments. During the single wash cycle, the solvent in the chamber is passed through a filtration chamber and then fed back. After several cycles the laundry is done, and the solvent is poured out and eventually sent to a distillation unit for reuse.
The final stage is drying. During the drying cycle garments are tumbled in a stream of warm air circulating through the chamber and evaporating any remains of solvent. The air temperature is controlled to prevent heat damage of garments.
A typical dry cleaning cycle lasts up to 15 minutes, which is shorter than typical laundering. It can be also less expensive and more efficient in removing stains - comparised to traditional laundry. For example, it can remove very persistent and greasy stains. But dry cleaning has also restriction and disadvantages. The most important - all garments have to be checked for dry cleaning compatibility (ie fabric type) and for foreign objects like fasteners or plastic pens that may dissolve in the solvent bath and/or damage the fabric. Clothes must be also sorted, because red and other firmly dyed things can not be cleaned with lighter-color textiles to avoid color transfer.