May 28, 2024

What is a Dry Cleaning Solvent?

Dry cleaning solvent is a chemical substance used in the Dry Cleaning process to dissolve and remove dirt, oils, stains, and other contaminants from fabrics and textiles. It replaces water as the primary cleaning agent, making it suitable for cleaning delicate fabrics that might be damaged by water or agitation.
The most commonly used dry cleaning solvent is perchloroethylene, often referred to as "perc." Perchloroethylene is a colorless, nonflammable liquid with strong cleaning properties. It's effective at removing oil-based stains and dirt from fabrics without causing excessive shrinkage, fading, or damage.
However, it's important to note that perchloroethylene has raised environmental and health concerns due to its potential to contaminate soil and groundwater and its association with health risks when inhaled or when clothing retains residual perc after cleaning. As a result, many dry cleaners are transitioning to more environmentally friendly solvents.
Alternative dry-cleaning solvents include hydrocarbon-based solvents, liquid carbon dioxide (CO2), and silicone-based solvents. These alternatives are generally considered to be safer for both human health and the environment. They can effectively clean clothes without some of the drawbacks associated with traditional perchloroethylene.
When choosing a dry cleaner, it's a good idea to inquire about the type of solvent they use and any efforts they've made to adopt more eco-friendly options. Always follow the care labels on your clothing and any manufacturer's recommendations to ensure proper cleaning and maintenance.