The process of washing clothes with an organic solvent instead of water is termed as dry cleaning. Clothes which get damaged by the use of detergents/soaps are usually the ones that are dry cleaned. These 'special' clothes are made from delicate fabrics like silk or rayon. These may also include a few wool blends. Washing them with the ordinary method or materials causes their shape, color or both to change. Hence, these clothes are dry cleaned, using a solvent, terachloroethylene, in the process. Dry cleaning at home is also an alternative to the laborious method of hand washing clothes.
Home Dry Cleaning
The availability of home dry cleaning kits have made it possible to clean clothes at home itself. These kits are available at any of the discount stores or grocery shops. Some of the products popularly used for dry cleaning include 'Dryel' from 'Procter & Gamble', 'Custom Clean' from 'Dial', 'FreshCare' from 'Clorox', etc. There is no need to purchase any other industrial solvent which is generally used by commercial dry cleaners. The basic steps involved in dry cleaning the clothes include pre-treatment followed by dry cleaning and at last the ironing and reshaping of clothes.
The process of pre-treating or removing stains from clothes involves the use of petroleum-based solvents. In the process of pre-treatment, a bottle of the cleaning agent is placed on the stain and an absorbent pad is held beneath the garment. The solution need to be rubbed over the stain gently. The dirt/soil loosens from the surface of the cloth and gets dissolved in the cleaning solution. The pressure that is applied in the form of rubbing causes the dirt to pass through the fabric and gets deposited on the cleaning pad.
A special kind of dry cleaning bag is used to place clothes which is in turn kept in a dryer for about 15-20 minutes. Dryer-activated clothes are placed along with the garments to be washed inside these bags. The dryer-activated clothes contain a small percentage of water, an emulsifying agent and perfume. When the bags are kept in dryers and it is turned on, heat is generated and the water molecules present in the dryer-activated bags get activated and start bouncing around. A dense layer of steam is formed inside these air-tight bags which then condenses on the surface of garments. The vapors of perfume too condense on the fabrics, which adds a fragrance to them. The vapors are also helpful in removing the wrinkles present on clothes. The wrinkles on clothes, formed as a result of a weak attraction between the fibers are removed by the combined effect of heat and water molecules.
Ironing and Finishing Touches
The final step is inspection of clothes for stains, loose buttons, ripped seams, etc. As the wrinkles are removed in the dryer, it is easy to iron the clothes. Post spotting is a process in which stains, if any, after dry cleaning are removed with the help of stain removers. Once the cleaning process is over, loose buttons or ripped seams are fixed.
Dry Clean at Home with Salt
It is a simple method of dry cleaning clothes like shirts, coats, skirts, etc. The salt that one uses for dry cleaning should be finely powdered. A cleaning pad made from muslin cloth or linen would also be required for rubbing the clothes. Once the salt is spread evenly over the garment to be dry cleaned, the cleaning pad is used for rubbing. The rubbing strokes need to be in a downward manner instead of round. The round or random strokes result into the garment losing its sheen. The parts like collars and cuffs should be rubbed twice, in order to remove the dirt.
The information presented above explains in short about the different steps involved in the dry cleaning process. Dry cleaning at home with salt, which is a relatively simpler method than the 3-step process is also explained above. Thus, armed with the knowledge of the dry cleaning process, this task should become far easier to do.