The History of Dry Cleaning

February 13, 2018 8:58 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

You’ve probably driven by a variety of dry cleaners in Scottsdale, AZ, and perhaps you’ve even brought your clothing to the experts at Organic Dry Cleaners and Laundry. But do you know the history of the dry cleaning industry?

Today, we take it for granted that we can have all manner of delicate clothing and valuable accessories professionally cleaned and refreshed, but this wasn’t always the case. Here’s a little background on how dry cleaning got its start, and how it became the integral part of our lives that it is today.

It began in France

The theory behind using a special process for cleaning delicate items dates as far back as the mid-1800s. It was then that a Frenchman named Jean Baptiste Jolly, who was a dye-works operator, took note of the benefits of petroleum-based solvents. He began to offer his own “nettoyage á sec” (“dry cleaning”) method, and thus was born the dry cleaning industry! Of course, it still had a long way to go.

Improvements start to emerge

Jolly was onto something big, but many people were concerned about the flammable nature of his practice. So, a man from Atlanta named William Joseph Stoddard was excited when he discovered a new type of solvent that was a little bit safer, since it did not have any elements that were gasoline-based. Still, fires and explosions were a consistent issue—something you probably never thought about until now!

You can thank some inventive folks for creating a chlorinated solvent formula just after World War I, thus greatly diminishing the flammable properties of the dry cleaning process. Over time, even more improvements came to light, eventually leading to the modern formula used by dry cleaners in Scottsdale, AZ and elsewhere: tetrachloroethylene. This formula is non-flammable, and recyclable!

The industry evolves

Back in the day, dry cleaning was something of a process due to limitations on access to machinery. Local dry cleaning businesses would collect their customers’ clothing orders and send them to a large factory for cleaning. There were two machines involved, as well: one for cleaning, and one to rinse out the solvents. These machines were “vented,” meaning that their fumes and exhaust went right out into the atmosphere.

Better regulations

Today, dry cleaners in Scottsdale, AZ have a much safer, earth-friendly approach. Machines are completely enclosed, so no fumes or solvents escape. Then, extra solvent is collected and ultimately distilled, so it can safely be reused for the next cleaning process or carefully disposed of through proper channels.

Modern dry cleaning

Thanks to many decades of innovation and progress, you can find a fantastic selection of dry cleaners in Scottsdale, AZ, including Organic Dry Cleaners and Laundry. We take great care and consideration with all of your belongings, and also keep the environment at the forefront of our processes. If you want beautiful, expertly cleaned clothing and accessories, and also want to keep dry cleaning safe for the planet—and us—stop by and chat with us. We look forward to serving you!

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