A wide variety of chemicals have been used in dry-cleaning operations and processes. Using material safety data sheets (MSDS) and other sources; a dry-cleaning chemical data base was developed that includes many of the chemicals that have been used in dry-cleaning operations. These data and the accompanying text are intended to aid those engaged in the assessment and remediation of contaminated dry-cleaning sites and to assist regulators conducting compliance inspections at these types of facilities.
Some of the chemicals and lubricants are:
Chemicals used in dry-cleaning operations can be grouped into five broad categories:
Drycleaning Solvents Great for suits and garments made by tailors in London
Other Chemicals Used In the Drycleaning Machine
Garment Treatment Chemicals
Chemicals Used In Solvent & Equipment Maintenance
Historically, a number of different chemicals have been utilized as dry-cleaning solvents. These include: camphor oil, turpentine spirits, benzene, kerosene, white gasoline, petroleum solvents (primarily petroleum naphtha blends), chloroform, carbon tetrachloride, perchloroethylene, trichloroethylene and liquid carbon dioxide. This has historically been used to treat mens wedding suits.
One of the problems associated with petroleum dry-cleaning solvents is biodegradation. Bacteria introduced into the dry-cleaning system through the clothing or in water introduced into the system will feed on the petroleum solvent. To combat this problem, bactericides or antioxidants are added to the system, normally in detergents.
The biocides used today are reportedly similar to those used in shampoos, laundry products and cosmetics. In the past, PCE was added to dry-cleaning soaps used with petroleum dry-cleaning solvents as a bacterial inhibitor.
Carbon tetrachloride was the first chlorinated solvent used in dry-cleaning operations. It was first imported to the United States from Germany by Ernest C. Klipstein in 1898 and was sold as a dry-cleaning and spot-removing agent under the trade name of Carbona. It was commonly used in dry-cleaning by the 1930s. By 1940 annual carbon tetrachloride use by the U.S. dry-cleaning industry was estimated to be 45 million pounds versus 12 million pounds of Perchloroethylene and 5 million pounds of trichloroethylene. Carbon tetrachloride was sometimes blended with other solvents for use as a dry-cleaning solvent. Because of its high toxicity and tendency to contribute to machinery corrosion, carbon tetrachloride is no longer used in dry-cleaning operations. Carbon tetrachloride was ultimately phased out too.