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Chemicals Used in Dry Cleaning

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Dry cleaning machines use a variety of chemicals to clean garments, carpets and mattresses. The main solvent is perchloroethylene (PCE). There are also other solvents, such as hydrocarbons and fuller’s earth.

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Perchloroethylene is one of the most commonly used solvents in dry cleaning. It dissolves greases and other soils without harming fabric. It’s also effective at cleaning metal and plastic. It’s safe to use in low concentrations and it is an effective cleaner although it is not commonly used in more recent times.

Fuller’s earth

Fuller’s earth is used as a stain remover in dry cleaning. Water alone is ineffective in removing stubborn stains. Some of the non-water-soluble soils that Fuller’s Earth can remove include body oils, grease, and paint. Early attempts at dry cleaning can be traced back to Pompeii, where clothing tradesmen used fuller’s earth to absorb oily stains and soils from clothes. Until the seventeenth century, the only way to remove oily stains was with a hot iron and paper.

Fuller’s earth is a mixture of clays and hydrous aluminum silicates. The clays used in Fuller’s earth are calcium bentonite, montmorillonite, kaolinite, attapulgite, and calcite. This mixture removes the majority of impurities from wool, ensuring that carpets, clothes and mattresses look fresh and clean after dry cleaning.

Dipropylene glycol tertiary butyl ether

Dipropylene glycol tert-butyl ether (DPBT) is a chemical used in dry cleaning. It has the same solvent properties as PERC, but has a higher flashpoint and is therefore considered a more environmentally friendly alternative.

Supercritical CO2

Dry cleaning processes involving carbon dioxide often involve supercritical CO2 to remove contaminants. Supercritical CO2 has very low viscosity, and is highly effective for removing organic contaminants. This is particularly useful when cleaning delicate parts or complex structures. Moreover, it is environmentally friendly. In addition to dry cleaning, CO2 is also useful for other applications. Liquid CO2 tends to stay on the surface, but supercritical CO2 diffuses more deeply into fabrics.

For more information on dry cleaning or carpet cleaning, contact Magic Dry today or book a clean!

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