Wet cleaning is the environmentally friendly garment cleaning process that uses only water and gentle finishing agents to clean. Instead of adding to the problem of toxic dry cleaning chemicals that are harmful to people and the environment, wet cleaning relies on specialized equipment and knowledgeable staff to safely clean your garments.
When you go “clean & green” with a wet cleaning system, you eliminate large volumes of dangerous chemicals like perchlorethylene (PERC) and volatile hydrocarbons from your neighbourhood.
How does it work?
Wet cleaning uses specialized commercial machinery to gently clean 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. Wet cleaners can administer a customized wet wash suited to any fabric’s specific needs. For example, wet cleaners can set the machines to as few as six revolutions per minute to reduce the stress on delicate fabrics during the wash cycle.
Contrast this with a typical home washing machine which may rotate garments several dozen times per minute!
What about wrinkling and shrinking?
To safely clean fabrics that can shrink when washed in water and dried, wet cleaners like Fresh ‘n Press can control the amount of water spun out of wet garments after the final rinse, so minimal drying is needed. Upright dryers and tensioning devices ensure that garments retain their natural size and shape. Temperature and humidity levels can also be controlled during the drying process to prevent shrinkage.
How about colours?
For clothes that tend to bleed, wet cleaners can apply a stabilizing agent that prevents dye from washing out of garments. New, soil releasing detergents with colloids are now available to remove tough stains without diminishing color. Fabric softeners and finishing agents added during the wet cleaning cycle will restore fabric softness and add body to garments once they are dried.
Why do we need wet cleaning?
Professional cleaners in the1930s 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 fibre garments, and dry cleaning was used to clean the remainder. The introduction of new 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 and most plants went “dry.” Typically, dry cleaning today is performed in large processing plants where virtually every garment is treated with the same chemical cleaners.
Today, we know much more about the potential hazards of chlorine-based solvents like perchlorethylene (PERC) and hydrocarbons such as varsol. These chemicals can pose health problems to the people who use them, and they create significant challenges for transporting and disposing of them safely. Even small amounts that escape into the environment will be toxic to plants and wildlife.
Fresh ‘n Press remains London’s first and only full service wet cleaning plant. We do your cleaning right in our own shop. Wet cleaning requires more individual attention than large dry cleaning plants. But that simply means more personal care for your clothes.
Wet cleaning is a win-win – It’s good for the environment and it’s good for your clothes!