- $15 for $30 worth of dry cleaning
Dry Cleaning: The Unstained Truth
To learn how, exactly, your clothes can be cleaned without water, explore Groupon’s explanation of dry cleaning.
Dry cleaning might not use water, but it does involve liquid. More specifically, it requires a chemical solvent—historically a clear liquid called perchlorethylene, though some cleaners now use carbon dioxide to reduce their impact on the environment. The process itself is fairly straightforward: soiled clothes are loaded into a machine similar to a typical washer, then doused with the solvent and spun. A continual filtration system keeps grime from being redeposited onto the fabric, and after the spin, the clothes are dried with warm air before they are removed, ironed, and returned to their owners.
The discovery of dry cleaning was, naturally, triggered by a spill. As the story goes, in 1855 dye-works owner Jean Baptiste Jolly noticed that his tablecloth appeared cleaner after a maid accidentally spilled the contents of a kerosene lamp on it. Jolly was inspired to market a similar cleaning product. Since his new process did not use water, he exercised creative license and called it “dry cleaning.” The details of the story remain somewhat apocryphal, but there’s no questioning that the in the mid-19th century, the Jolly-Belin firm opened a commercial operation in Paris that is widely credited as the earliest application of dry-cleaning technology.