When you’re washing your clothes at home, you might notice that when it comes to certain tougher stains, the “power of detergent” isn’t so, well, powerful. You might notice, too, that sometimes certain parts of your wardrobe don’t take kindly to the rough treatment at-home washing machines dish out. In situations like these and more – that’s when you call in the dry cleaners.

When your clothes (and other items, but more on that in the next blog!) are “at the dry cleaners”…what happens? What’s actually going on behind your cleaners’ big counter?

The process is simple – but there might be some surprises in store for you in this article.

Wait a Second: “Dry Cleaning” isn’t “Dry”?

You heard it here, you heard it right. The term “dry cleaning” is a total misnomer. What the dry cleaning process gets rid of (aside from grease and grime!) is water – but that doesn’t mean dry cleaning isn’t wet!

Instead of water, dry cleaners use chemical solvents. That’s the principle difference between the washing process in your home and the one at your cleaners: what “does” the washing. Water is a natural solvent that’s great at breaking down dirt – but because water + detergent can be a pretty harsh formula they’re great at breaking down your clothes, too. At Williams Cleaners, that’s not our favorite idea. Which brings us to…

The Solvent Solution

Dry cleaners use solvents – but which ones? Dry cleaning used to be carried out exclusively by using a chemical solvent called perchloroethylene, or “perc” for short. However, because of reported possible carcinogenic side effects alleged by certain lab tests done in the 90’s (and because of the environmentally harmful byproducts of its manufacture), the chemical began to be phased out once headlines began breaking.

Today, however, about 80% of dry cleaners in the United States still use it! But not Williams Cleaners – we have different, entirely earth-friendly way of doing things around here.

Williams Cleaners are the only GreenEarth® dry cleaners in Lincoln. Using specially formulated GreenEarth® solvents means that when we dry clean your clothes, we’re not just switching out one set of harmful chemicals for another. GreenEarth® solvents are simply liquid silicon. This means that you’re able to go to any Williams Cleaners in Lincoln, and you’ll find only two things in our compound solvents: oxygen and sand (silicon dioxide, or SiO2) in liquid form. When the process ends and your clothes are getting ready for press, the liquified solvent is evaporated and filtered, and the only things that make it out the other end are silicon (sand), oxygen, and trace amounts of CO2.

This is why some Williams Cleaners customers do all of their cleaning with us – no environmental impact and zero health risks mean peace of mind for you and your family (and even your pets!).

Clean Machine

The machines dry cleaners use are almost exclusively enormous metal boxes that resemble front-loading washers. They have to be huge, for a few reasons. First, their tumbling drums can’t be as compact at your at-home washers – the main goal of a dry cleaning machine is to be gentle on your clothes, and that means as little friction as possible. All that cramped-space rubbing really takes its toll. Two, dry cleaning machines just do a lot more than traditional setups. Williams Cleaners’ dry cleaning machines recycle the silicon solvent by evaporating the liquid solvent once it’s cleaned your clothes, filtering the grime that the solvent sucked up and out of your clothes, and then collecting the clean, filtered remains in a percolator as condensation. Whew – that really is a lot of work, but for us it’s worth it. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. We’ve got it down pat – and once your clothes exit this machine, they’re ready for a pat-down!

Im-Press for Success

One of the last steps in ensuring your clothes are street, office, and on-the-town ready is the patented steam & press. You’ve seen it before, and you can see it right here. The press is where the most valuable items in your Husker wardrobe go to say, “Ahhhhh…” And when you come to pick up your cleaning – we’re absolutely sure you’ll feel the same way.

So whatever your wardrobe needs, when you need a dry cleaner in Lincoln, Nebraska – you’ll know to call Williams Cleaners first. And if your clothes are well-kempt for the time being, at the very least – now you know how it all works!