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Wet dry cleaning?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
My cleaner in Austin, Ecomat, offers a wet "dry cleaning" service. They even often refer to it as dry cleaning as they charge by the garment, offer ironing and will individually hang each item, the same service as you would get from a conventional dry cleaner, except they claim to use a method that uses steam instead of any chemicals. Does anyone else know more about this process? Surely they're not the only cleaners in the world to use it. I've given them shirts which have come out fine but I wonder how wool suits would hold up. I see lots of other customers that have them handle their wool garments so it must not be too terrible. Assuming that the steam is effective at getting dirt, sweat etc out of wool without causing shrinkage problems this sounds like a vastly superiour process to conventional dry cleaning.
post #2 of 10
No experience with that process, but you might want to liberate a wool suit from one of the local thrifts and use it as a guinea pig.
post #3 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vintage Gent
No experience with that process, but you might want to liberate a wool suit from one of the local thrifts and use it as a guinea pig.
Good idea - I can't imagine how steam would not shrink wool, assuming it's hot enough to clean the cloth properly. A cuople of times, I've done irreparable damage to wool just by steam-ironing it.
post #4 of 10
It's not the heat that shrinks wool. It's the sudden shift in temperature.

I know in austin, they had a CO-2 cleaner, Hangers, but the prices were about double, so they had to close down operations.
post #5 of 10
All "dry cleaning" is wet.
post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by StevenRocks
All "dry cleaning" is wet.

In the conventional sense, yes. In chemistry however, when you dry a liquid, you're removing water from the solution with a drying agent.

Drycleaners use tetrachloroethylene as a solvent as opposed to water, so chemically-speaking it's dry ;p

Btw, I don't think it's unusual for shirts to be cleaned with water and detergent at the cleaners unless it's got a stain that cannot be removed effectively with water as a solvent. They're not gonna do that with wool unless they're idiots.

CO2 cleaners use a solution of liquid CO2 and detergent to clean. Since CO2 is a gas at room temperatues, they don't use heat to "dry" your clothes after they've been cleaned. For this reason, it's gentler. I'm assuming it's double the cost because people have had to invest in brand new equipment that must keep CO2 under pressure (that's how they keep it in liquid form without dropping the temperature).
post #7 of 10
Thread Starter 
I found out that the term is "wet cleaning". http://departments.oxy.edu/uepi/ppc/projects.htm
Quote:
\tProfessional wet clean washers use a computer to control the rotation of \tthe cleaning drum in order to minimize agitation while providing sufficient \tmovement for effective garment cleaning. Wet clean washers are also equipped \twith a computer programmed detergent injection system, which allows the cleaner \tto specify the amount and type of wet clean detergent used for each load. \tBiodegradable wet clean detergents have been formulated by detergent manufacturers to maximize \tcleaning power while minimizing color change and shrinkage. \t\tWet clean dryers include computer controls to assure that garments retain a proper amount \tof moisture after the dry cycle is complete. \t \tSpecialized tensioning pressing machines are used to enhance the restoration of constructed garments, \tsuch as suit jackets, suit pants, and tailored items. \t \tBoth equipment and operating costs are lower in wet cleaning compared to PCE dry cleaning. Cleaners who have \tswitched are still able to process the same range of garments and materials as they did in the past.
I gave Ecomat a beater wool suit and it turned out great. In fact, they did a great steaming job and restored the roll to the lapel that I never knew existed. I'm still a bit worried about the long-term effects of shrinkage though.
post #8 of 10
I just tried a CO2 dry cleaner in the area for some of my trousers and they didn't come back with that lifeless feel that seems to accompany regular dry cleaning.
post #9 of 10
Thread Starter 
CO2 cleaning is a different process than wet cleaning though it sounds like both may be superior to conventional chemical dry cleaning.
Quote:
CO2 Dry Cleaning Technology \tThe CO2 process is a sub-critical carbon dioxide based garment cleaning process \t that has been developed for use by commercial and retail dry-cleaners. \t CO2 is a non-flammable, non-toxic, colorless, tasteless, odorless naturally-occurring \t gas that, when subjected to pressure, becomes a liquid solvent. The CO2 \t used in the garment cleaning process is an industrial by-product from existing \t operations, such as the production of ethanol by fermentation and anhydrous \t ammonia (fertilizer) production. This process does not produce any new \t CO2 and, thus, does not contribute to global warming. \t \tDescription: CO2 Dry Cleaning \tThe laundry is placed in the washing chamber of the machine. The chamber \t is emptied of air. The pressure in the washing chamber is raised by injecting \t gaseous CO2. Then, liquid CO2 is pumped into the washing chamber. Agitation \t is achieved by jet streams and/or a rotating basket. The cleaning cycle \t lasts about 5 to 15 minutes and the whole process takes place at ambient \t temperature. The liquid CO2 goes into the fibers and dissolves dirt, fats, \t and oils. During the washing cycle a filter cleans particles from the liquid. \t At the end of the cleaning process, the liquid CO2 is pumped back into \t the storage tank, lowering the pressure in the cleaning chamber. On \t its way to the storage vessel, the gas is chilled and once again condensed \t into its liquid form. When the pressure is low enough, the remaining CO2 \t is vented to the atmosphere. The CO2 is regularly cleaned by distillation. \t
post #10 of 10
I think wet cleaning is a good thing for environmental point of view, but do not let them clean your suit. There is a chance it might shrink; it will wrinkle your suit in the "wet cleaning" process so ironing is harsher. Its good for the environment but not good for your fine structured items like your suit. Cotton shirts are ideal for this process. An alternative might be to look for a cleaner with Hydro Carbon or "Green Earth" cleaning. These cleaning method still use solvents but not as toxic as Perchloroethylene.
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