Dry Cleaning Definition: Definitions for the Clothing & Textile Industry
Dry cleaning is any cleaning process for clothing and textiles using a solvent other than water. The term is a misnomer, as most dry cleaning is done with chlorinated hydrocarbon solvents, one of the most popular of which is perchloroethylene, commonly referred to as "Perc".
A dry cleaning machine is somewhat similar to a domestic washing machine, with the exception that it's significantly larger, and that all the dry-cleaning solvent is captured, filtered, and re-used during the cleaning cycle rather than flowing down the drain.
Early dry cleaners used solvents such as gasoline and kerosene. After World War II, carbon tetrachloride and trichlorethylene are popular before giving way to Perc.
Perc is toxic and long-term exposure can cause liver and kidney damage. Fortunately, there are healthier alternatives such as: