While the process of spot cleaning using turpentine has existed since 1720, it was Jean-Baptiste Jolly who first discovered the process of Dry Cleaning when he accidentally knocked over a lamp in 1825 spilling turpentine spirits on to a cloth. He noticed that where the spirit had evaporated the cloth was cleaner and so immersed the whole cloth in turpentine. This inspired him to offer this to the public and went into business as a dry cleaner with his son-in-law H.Petite Didier. Precautions had to be taken however to reduce the risk of fire as spirits of turpentine are flammable.
Dry cleaning was first used in the UK in the late 1850s.
Since 1825 a wide range of chemicals have been used in the process of dry cleaning. However Perchloroethylene (often referred to as ”Perc”) continues to be the major solvent used around the world.
Over the years dry cleaning machines have changed significantly and in the UK majority of the machines are totally enclosed. This has improved workplace conditions and reduced solvent consumption. The difference between dry cleaning and aqueous is that natural fibres do not distort in solvents, whereas they do in water.
See Also: Dry Cleaning Care Tips