Dry Cleaning Solvents – Everything You Need to Know

01/31/2024
6 months Ago - 4 min Read
dry cleaning solvents

A centuries-old practice, dry cleaning has evolved into an essential service in the modern world. 

Central to the process are the substances known as dry cleaning solvents. In this blog, we’ll delve into the role of solvents and the historical evolution of these cleaning agents, explore the future perspectives of the industry, and tackle the safety concerns you might have.

What is Dry Cleaning?

Before diving deeper, let’s define dry cleaning. Is the process actually “dry”? Well, not really. Dry cleaning is a cleaning method that relies on solvent-based solutions to clean fabrics instead of water and detergent.

Dry cleaning is particularly suited for delicate fabrics or garments that may be damaged by traditional washing methods. Delicate fabrics, embellished and tailored garments cannot withstand the agitation of washing machines or are damaged by water and regular detergents. This makes dry cleaning ideal for effectively removing stains and odors from such garments.

What is a Solvent?

At the heart of dry cleaning lie the solvents, chemical substances, mostly liquid, capable of dissolving various materials (solutes) to form a solution. 

In dry cleaning, grease, oils, or other contaminants could be the solute, with the solvent dissolving them without affecting the fabric. 

The solvents act as a gentle yet effective cleaning medium, helping to preserve the integrity of delicate fabrics. 

Common dry cleaning solvents include perchloroethylene (Perc), hydrocarbons, and more recently, GreenEarth®’s liquid silicone-based solvents, with the latter gaining more and more popularity due to their environmentally-friendly nature.

History of Dry Cleaning Solvents

The use of solvents in cleaning traces back to ancient civilizations, where oils and other natural substances were employed to cleanse fabrics.

The dry cleaning term dates back to the 19th century and was first used by a French dye-works owner named Jean-Baptiste Jolly. When he spilled kerosene from a lamp on a dirty linen tablecloth, he noticed that the parts touched by the fuel seemed cleaner. Recognizing the potential of his discovery, Jolly experimented with various solvents, and the concept of cleaning fabrics with solvents took off. 

Early dry cleaning methods involved using various solvents, including turpentine and gasoline. The industry was revolutionized when perchloroethylene (Perc) began to be employed as a solvent, in the early 20th century. 

According to the American Chemical Society, Perc, a colorless and nonflammable liquid, was discovered way before, in 1821, and rose in popularity among dry cleaners due to its ability to quickly and effectively clean even the most stubborn stains.

Perc was the first choice for dry cleaners around the world for tens of years, but its use poses some environmental concerns. When spilled, Perc can cause soil and groundwater contamination, which led to restrictions on its use in some European countries and American states such as Maine, Michigan, and Minnesota, while California banned it completely, as per EnviroForensics

As a result, the industry has shifted towards more environmentally friendly solvents. GreenEarth®’s liquid silicone-based solvents have gained popularity due to their non-toxic nature and minimal impact on the environment.

How do Solvents Work?

To understand how these substances dissolve the stains on clothing, it is essential to assess their chemical properties and ability to interact with the blemishes. 

The solvents used in dry cleaning are typically non-polar chemicals, meaning they have a neutral electrical charge and do not readily form bonds with water molecules. 

This characteristic allows them to interact with and dissolve non-polar substances such as oils, greases, and other hydrophobic (water-repelling) stains.

The stains on clothing often consist of organic compounds, such as oils or proteins, that are not easily removed by water, a polar substance. Being non-polar, solvents have an affinity for these substances and can break down the molecular structure of the stain.

The solvent molecules surround the stain particles, weakening the bonds between the stain and the fabric. Once the solvent has interacted with the stains, it holds the broken-down particles in suspension. This prevents the re-deposition of the dissolved stains back onto the fabric during the cleaning process.

In dry cleaning, the machine’s rotating drum agitates the solvent and clothes, ensuring that the solvent penetrates the fabric and effectively interacts with the stains.

Solvents in Dry Cleaning – Future Perspectives

Perc has been the standard choice for dry cleaners for almost a century now and it continues to be the primary solvent in many countries and states, but the health and environmental concerns it brings along are no longer ignored. 

The dry cleaning industry is undergoing a continuous process of adopting sustainable practices.

One hot topic is biodegradable solvents, with researchers actively exploring solvents derived from renewable sources that are not only effective in cleaning but also break down naturally, reducing the environmental impact.

Another alternative to traditional solvents is liquid carbon dioxide. The cleaning method involves using pressurized CO2, eliminating the need for toxic chemicals and producing zero waste, making it an eco-friendly option.

Butylal, glycol ethers, and siloxane are other solvents currently utilized in US dry cleaners. But no matter what the alternative to Perc is, it’s of utmost importance that their effects on human health and the environment are well studied beforehand.

Timeless Cleaners, Your Ideal Dry Cleaning Partnerdry cleaners las vegas

If you’re looking for an ideal dry cleaner, look no further than Timeless Cleaners. We have been serving Las Vegas in our locations for over 50 years, not only cleaning your garments but rejuvenating them. 

With the environmental impact at the forefront of our priorities, our locations, AI Phillips and Thrift D’Lux, offer a plethora of services, from dry cleaning to alterations and other specialty solutions.

Utilizing cutting-edge technology and eco-friendly solutions, our dry-cleaning services keep your garments fresh, vibrant, and remarkably clean.

No matter how delicate your garment is, be it a wedding gown, couture piece, or Elvis outfit, our specialists are trained to handle them with the highest level of care.

If your garments need attention, leave them to Timeless Cleaners. We offer convenient pickup and delivery services that work around your schedule. Quality cleaning, right to your door. Find us here.

Exceptional Cleaning
for Every Garment

Our Locations

Conveniently located across Las Vegas

Al Phillips Bicentennial

T: (702) 260-0846

A: 2900 Bicentennial Parkway
Henderson, NV 89044-4486

Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun: closed

Al Phillips Central

T: (702) 658-0320

A: 3174 N. Rainbow Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89108

Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun: closed

Al Phillips Charleston

T: (702) 228-2434

A: 9811 West Charleston Boulevard
Las Vegas, NV 89117-7529

Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun: closed

Al Phillips Rampart

T: (702) 288-5843

A: 8578 W. Lake Mead Blvd.
Las Vegas, NV 89128

Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun: closed

Al Phillips Roads Ranch

T: (702) 617-2842

A: 7345 S. Durango Dr.
Ste 104 Las Vegas, NV 89113

Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun: closed

Al Phillips Skye Canyon

T: (702) 405-8844

A: At Smiths Market Shopping Center, 9810 W. Skye Canyon Park Dr
Las Vegas, NV 89166

Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun: closed

Al Phillips Village

T: (702) 558-3197

A: 35 E. Horizon Ridge
Pkwy. Suite 130
Henderson, NV 89002

Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun: closed

Al Phillips Windmill

T: (702) 361-1065

A: 2637 Windmill Pkwy
Henderson, NV 89014

Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun: closed

Thrift D’Lux Ann

T: (702) 476-3621

A: 4690 W. Ann Road
(near W Ann & Decatur Blvd)
N. Las Vegas NV 89031

Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun: closed

Thrift D’Lux Anthem

T: (702) 837-8974

A: 2505 Anthem Village Drive #D (at Eastern & Anthem Parkway) Henderson, NV 89052

Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun: closed

Thrift D’Lux Deer Springs

T: (702) 515-0933

A: 6720 Hualapai Way Ste 165
Las Vegas, NV 89149

Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun: closed

Thrift D’Lux Farm

T: (702) 839-2035

A: 8414 Farm Rd. (Tule Springs Village)
Las Vegas, NV 89131

Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun: closed

Thrift D’Lux Flamingo

T: (702) 367-8383

A: 6190 W. Flamingo
(at Jones)
Las Vegas, NV 89103

Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun: closed

Thrift D’Lux Losee

T: (702) 399-4482

A: 5892 Losee Road, Suite 133 (at Paradise)
N. Las Vegas, NV 89081

Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun: closed

Thrift D’Lux Siena

T: (702) 463-6011

A: 10080 W. Tropicana, Ste 162
Las Vegas, NV 89147

Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun: closed

Thrift D’Lux Sunset

T: (702) 453-3344

A: 4602 Sunset Road, Unit A
(at Mt. Vista)
Henderson, NV 89014

Hours: Mon-Fri: 8am-7pm
Sat: 9am-5pm
Sun: closed