Why Do Polyurethane Coats Deteriorate in Perc?

Alan Spielvogel |

Q: We use perchloroethylene as our drycleaning solvent. For the past several years, we have been having serviceability issues with coats that contain polyurethane (bonding failure, peeling of coatings, discoloration). Are these garments better serviced using alternate solvents?
A: If the care-label instructions state that the garment can be drycleaned, it must be serviceable in any type of drycleaning solvent, unless a specific solvent is specified or excluded. When the above-mentioned damage occurs, the polyurethane coating or binding agent wasn’t cured correctly, making the polyurethane solvent-soluble and/or heat-sensitive.
Because perchloroethylene has a higher Kb value than other drycleaning solvents, it’s more apt to dissolve polyurethane, but this doesn’t mean that improperly cured polyurethane won’t dissolve in other types of solvent.
If polyurethane is heat-sensitive, the higher temperatures needed for the reclamation of hydrocarbon or silicon-based solvents may affect defective (heat-sensitive) polyurethane coatings or binders.
There are a number of manufacturers that have produced garments that contain defective polyurethane laminates or coatings. The National Cleaners Association (NCA) has alerted its membership to such garments through both e-mailed “Watchouts” and “Watchout” postcards. These defective garments can also be found on NCA’s website,

About the author

Alan Spielvogel

National Cleaners Association (NCA)

Technical Director

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


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