How did dry cleaning start?

The evolution of dry cleaning:

From satellites and space travel, technology has had a tremendous impact upon our lives. The way our clothes are cleaned has also been greatly improved by advances in technology.

The first clothes-washing machine was invented in 1677 by Sir John Hoskins. It used a wheel and cylinder to squeeze water through a bag of linens. Other devices like washboards, rollers, stirring sticks, and hot irons for pressing led the way for the commercial laundry industry which was born in 1837.

Dry cleaning was discovered in 1848 by the owner of a textile dyeworks who found that liquid from an oil lamp dissolved fat and eliminated shrinking, fading and discolouring caused by washing some fabrics in water.

By 1900, commercial laundries offered wet wash services-cleaning clothes and returning them for drying and pressing at home. They eventually did laundering, starching and drying, leaving the customer only the ironing.

The first synthetic cleaning fluids were developed after WWII. Eventually a colourless non-flammable, fast-evaporating liquid called perchloroethylene (perc) was developed. Perc is now the preferred choice for 90% of the industry and has revolutionized the way clothes are cleaned.


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