How does the dry cleaning process work?
Dry cleaning infers the use of a solvent in place of water. There are several solvents used commercially throughout the world such as PERC, petroleum or glycol ethers, while a newer approach uses simple carbon dioxide in a novel way. Your favorite cleaner will choose the best solvent for their customers while considering regulations and safety.
Regardless of the solvent used, clothes are placed into a basket similar to a washing machine; that is, the basket contains a perforated drum that rotates inside of an outer shell. During the wash cycle, new solvent is constantly fed into the machine while old solvent is removed. Afterwards, the machine will "rinse" with a fresh load of distilled solvent to help keep the clothes from absorbing the already used working solvent. Following this, the extraction cycle will spin the basket incredibly fast to extract as much solvent as possible. Then, the drying cycle begins, which utilizes warm air to push through the clothes and thus evaporate any traces of solvent still remaining, with the temperature of air depending on what type of garments are being cleaned. Finally, after a cooling cycle, garments are pressed and finished!
Some items may have to be pre-treated ahead of cleaning. Typically a dry cleaning solvent is used for this purpose, but because of safety concerns there may be restrictions to that practice. For this reason, it is helpful if you know the origin of any notable stains so we can best serve both the customer and our environment.
How do I know if my clothes need to be dry cleaned?
We talked about dry cleaning above, the alternative is called wet cleaning which is with water, typically in a washing machine. Plant-sourced products such as linen and rayon lose quite a bit of durability when exposed to water and can easily be damaged, particularly in home washing machines which have an agitator pulling at fabric. Likewise, items from animal sources such as wool or silk should avoid getting wet as it will reduce its life, color, and wear ability. These are all candidates for dry cleaning.
Other items are less compatible with the dry cleaning process. For example, certain plastics found in some beads and buttons can melt, and glued-on accentuations such as faux jewels or glitter can simply detach from the garment. If you are unsure, bring it to us and we will help you decide.
Take the time to know the clothes you love to wear!
Most garments will contain instructions on their tags stating whether or not they need to be dry cleaned. These instructions are sometimes written out for the consumer, but often when professional care is recommended you may only see symbols.
Example of tag symbols on clothing. Example of tag symbols on clothing.
In the example pictures, the first garment has an open circle indicating it can be dry cleaned. If this wasn't the case there would be an X through that circle, much like the X through the darkened triangle (no bleach). The second garment does not have a dry cleaning circle at all, so whether it should be wet or dry cleaned would depend on other factors. A list of many laundry symbols can be found on Wikipedia.
What if the tag doesn't have a yes-or-no dry cleaning symbol at all?
Care Label Rule of the Federal Trade Commission states that only one suitable method of care must be specified. However, if dry cleaning is potentially detrimental to the product the tag should inform you of that information. In cases where it isn't clear we will advise you of the risks and proceed in an agreeable manner. We may even ask you to sign a damage waiver.
View the FTC website to find out more about the Care Label Rule.
Are your solvents safe and environmentally friendly?
Our business policies, practices, and training methods are not only extremely safe for our workers but also our environment. This is a matter of settled law, and all dry cleaning companies following regulations are doing their job to keep the air fresh and the water clean. We go further by contributing to a fund to aid in cleanup efforts should any dry cleaning solvents harm the environment anywhere in the State of Oregon.
You may find other companies purporting to use an environmentally safe solvent. This is a gimmick. To protect our planet a dry cleaner must recapture and recycle as much of their solvent as possible in all stages of the process. Weldon's Cleaners uses a comprehensive approach to ensure this not only to our customers, but to everyone else dependent on our natural resources. Call us at 541-772-7973.