Wet cleaning is a professional garment cleaning technique that uses detergents and water. Professional cleaners in the 1930s and 1940s wet cleaned about one-fourth of all the garments that came through their shops. Back then, wet cleaning was used mostly on natural fiber garments, and dry cleaning solvents were used to clean the remainder. The introduction of specialized, non-flammable solvents in the 1950s, however, allowed cleaners to dry clean virtually any type of fabric, including natural fibers. As a result, wet cleaning was no longer necessary.
Driven by concerns about the toxicity of dry cleaning solvents, recent advances in both wet cleaning technology and garment care have revived wet cleaning as a safe alternative to dry cleaning. Trained cleaners are now able to wet clean many garments that have typically been dry cleaned, such as silks, woolens, linens, suedes, and leathers. Modern machine wet cleaning uses large, specialized machines to gently wash and dry clothes. These machines may be programmed for many variables, such as mechanical action, water and drying temperature, moisture levels in the dryer, and water and detergent volume. This flexible technology provides cleaners with the controls to administer a customized wet wash suited to the fabric(s) specific needs.
For example, wet cleaners can set the machines to as few as six revolutions per minute to reduce the stress placed on delicate fabrics during the wash cycle. (In contrast, a typical home washing machine may rotate garments several dozen times per minute.) To safely clean fabrics that can shrink when washed in water and dried, cleaners can increase the amount of water spun out of wet garments after the final rinsing cycle, so that minimal drying is needed. They can also control the temperature and humidity levels during the drying process to prevent shrinkage.
Trained wet cleaners also use other tools to ensure that garments are safely cleaned. For clothes that bleed, cleaners can apply an agent that prevents dye from washing out of garments. New, mild bleaching detergents can be used to remove tough stains without diminishing color. Fabric softeners and finishes can be added during the wet cleaning cycle to restore fabric softness, body, and crispness to garments once they are dried.
NOTE: Although there have been great advances in the wet cleaning processes, dry cleaning has been and continues to be the most preferred and least problematic way of cleaning clothes. Professional cleaners utilize both methods to remove the stains and return your garment in a -like new- condition.
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