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The Search for a New Solvent in Dry Cleaning

In the dry cleaning industry, new solvents seem to be introduced on a regular basis, allowing owners and operators to sift through choice after choice. Immersion solutions offer up something exciting and new to try, but how do you know you’re using the right formula for your service?

When perchloroethylene needed to be replaced due to news about cancer and health risks, new solvent solutions came out of the woodwork, and replacing the chemical was a main focus of dry cleaners across the country. Now, organic solutions are being developed to limit exposure and risk among employees and customers alike, and owners are opting for the right coverage including Site Pollution Liability coverage with their dry cleaners insurance, which can help to protect a business in the event of a legal matter.

Let’s take a look at some of the history of solving the solvent solution in dry cleaning.

Petroleum to Perc

Before perchloroethylene, or perc, was introduced in 1945, cleaning was done in petroleum. This proved to be a hazardous issue, especially since there weren’t the same regulations we have now to curb health issues in dry cleaning. Perchloroethylene came along as a better grease remover and had no flash point, making it a much better option for both business and customer.

But petroleum didn’t necessarily go anywhere as it joined perc as the main solutions in the dry cleaning industry until about 1995 when modified petroleum came on board. This solvent came with a higher flash point while also retaining the same cleaning traits of petroleum and could be used with previous chemical tools as used before.

Since 1995, and aside from modified petroleum, there have been many different offerings in the dry cleaning industry to replace immersion solutions but haven’t picked up steam, so to speak. Things like stand-alone glycol ether and a mixture of high-flash hydrocarbon and fluorine have shown promise, especially when it comes to cutting out more grease. And the use of bromine in parts cleaning led to a solution being introduced to completely eradicate perc by using a liquid solution in specially built machines.

What to Consider with New Solvents

While taking advantage of the latest solvent trends can be exciting, especially when it comes to cutting costs and finding better results in your processes, it still pays to understand just what you’re getting into. Dry cleaners have to have a solid grasp on just how strong and weak the solvents they are using are. From fibers to fabrics, knowing the effects can help to alleviate the risks of introducing a new solvent.

Dry cleaning owners and operators should also have a firm grasp on which chemical tools used in supplemental stain removal are compatible with solvents. Always keep in mind any restrictions in chemical use to keep contamination of the solvent at bay.

Finally, it’s a good rule of thumb to research a new dry cleaning machine and see how a new solvent will affect it. Make sure to be comfortable with the cleaning results and the level of productivity the solution allows you to keep going with the new machine. And, always keep in mind the safety of your customers and employees in terms of legal liabilities that can be presented with experimenting with trial and error with new solvent and machines. This can open things up to major health and legal issues, which will in turn cause the need for dry cleaners insurance to be used.

About Irving Weber Associates

At Irving Weber Associates, Inc., we understand what it takes to run a successful Dry Cleaner, Coin Operated Laundromat, Linen Supply business, Textile Restoration, or Commercial Launderer, including investing in a comprehensive Insurance Program to ensure that you are financially protected against claims. Our program, Fabricare Advantage™, offers overall business insurance coverages including General Liability, Property, Site Pollution Liability, Boiler & Machinery Equipment Breakdown, Workers’ Compensation, Business Auto, and many more. For a detailed look at how we can help you safeguard your business with a custom-tailored package, please contact our experts today at (800) 243-1811.