Dry cleaning is a term applied to washing fabrics in a liquid other than water. Using water as the washing agent, like what most of us do in our homes, is termed wet cleaning. Legend has it that dry cleaning was discovered accidentally in France during the late 1800’s. Apparently, someone spilled turpentine on a tablecloth with set-in stains, and every stain the turpentine touched came clean.
Thus, the idea of “dry cleaning” fabric in a liquid other than water was born. Turpentine and other petroleum-based solvents used in early dry cleaning were flammable at relatively low temperatures and gave off vapors that were dangerous to breathe. These two issues remain of concern with most of today’s dry cleaning fluids. In the 1950’s, Perchloroethylene (or perc) was introduced as a “safer” alternative because it had no flashpoint, eliminating fire hazards. It rapidly became the industry’s solvent of choice and for decades, dry cleaners used and disposed of perc without concern.
Then in the 1970’s and 1980’s, perc’s serious health and environmental risks came to light. Many regulatory and industry safeguards were introduced, but it was too late. Contamination from unsafe practices had already taken place, costing the dry cleaning industry a great deal of money and deeply staining its reputation.
We use bio-degradable garment bags that are made from 50% recycled plastic.