How Does Dry Cleaning Work?

Dry cleaning is somewhat of a misnomer, as the process of dry cleaning is not dry at all. Dry cleaning involves the use of a chemical solvent called perc, which is short for tetrachloroethylene (percholoroethylene). The difference is that dry cleaning uses no water during the cleaning process. It is not, as the name suggests, a completely liquid-free cleaning process.

Dry cleaners use washers that are similar to the one’s you would find in your home. In some cases the machine is a combination washer and dryer. The clothes are loaded into the machine and soaked with clean perc, which removes the dirt from the clothes and then leaves the perforated basket of the machine. It is recirculated through a filter in order to remove the dirt from the perc, and clean perc then returns to the basket to remove more dirt. Perc is pumped through the machine at a high rate in order to clean the clothes quickly. After the perc cycle, a drain and spin cycle removes remaining perc from the clothes, after which a drying cycle circulates warm air to dry the clothes. Any remaining perc or perc fumes are vaporized and then condensed over cooling coils, leaving the clothes dry and free of liquid solvent.

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