Can a Drycleaner Switch to an All-Wetcleaning Operation?

Alan Spielvogel |

Q: With perc under so much pressure from regulators, I’m interested in switching to a different process. I’m thinking of switching to a 100%, wetcleaning-only operation, which would seem like the best way to avoid any kind of regulation in the future and send a nice "green" message to my customers. But is this even possible? Can a cleaner who uses only wetcleaning get out enough soils and stains from a wide enough variety of fabrics to maintain business? How would such a business operate?
A: Before choosing to become an all-wetcleaning operation, do your homework. While many machinery and chemical manufacturers claim that you can process 100% of your work in water, there can be problems.
Before you make the switch, learn everything there is to know about wetcleaning equipment. There are many different features and options to consider when choosing a wetcleaning washer and dryer. Conventional finishing equipment must be replaced with tensioning equipment in order to achieve acceptable quality and production numbers. You’ll need to understand the chemistry of wetcleaning, including why and how it works. Most importantly, you’ll need to learn load classification, as well as the differences in stain removal and finishing.
In addition, there is a liability attached to cleaning garments in a way contrary to the care-label instructions. While many garments can be safely wetcleaned, many can’t. If a garment is damaged and you didn’t clean the garment according to the care-label instructions, you’re liable for the damage, even if the garment was defective.
Rather than switch to 100% wetcleaning, you might want to consider looking into a small-capacity drycleaning machine that uses an alternative solvent. When teamed with state-of-the-art wetcleaning equipment, this can provide the best of both worlds.Have a processing problem? Click here to Ask The Expert!

About the author

Alan Spielvogel

National Cleaners Association (NCA)

Technical Director

Alan Spielvogel is technical director of the National Cleaners Association (NCA).


Excellent advise

Your response to the OP was spot on. I service and sell to the dry cleaning industry and also write for Fabricare Canada Magazine. Knowledge is key here and anyone considering all wet cleaning needs to do their homework. I doubt that it will ever take over the industry and will likely remain a niche process. If you know what you are getting into, you won't have any surprises once you do it.

I have been a proponent of a blend of processes in any plant for a while. Certain garments and soils just process better using the correct method and the liability is mostly gone. I could go on and on about what is actually green but leave that for another day.

Lorne Tontegode 


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