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Wet, Wet, Wet


Michael Williams, Segment Manager for the laundry division of Electrolux Professional, discusses the new wet-way to wash which will revolutionise dry cleaning while meeting eco-concerns.


Dry cleaning has been in the spotlight for some time now, and not for the right reasons. The harsh chemicals used in the industry are under fi re due to their dangerous composition and lack of environmental assurance and sustainability, and as a result, buyers are now looking to invest in the alternative technology of wet cleaning.


Old technology used in dry cleaning procedures can often lead to the inevitable use of petroleum cleaning solvents, which are harmful if not used properly. Additionally, biodegradation is an issue that can occur during dry-cleaning, as bacteria entered into the system through clothing often produces sour smells and, to counteract this, bactericides and antioxidants are added.


The initial base of chemicals is often accompanied by detergents, optical brighteners, bactericides, fabric conditioners, pre-cleaning/spotting agents and anti-stint agents, which amount to a complicated and hazardous procedure. So, although more recently the dry cleaning


42 | SUSTAINABLE CLEANING


industry has tried to take a step away from Perchloroethylene and towards more sustainable solvents, with use of copious amounts of chemicals it is still a long way from achieving environmental sustainability. Commercial laundry managers – including those in restaurants, sports club and health care institutions – like in many other industries, need to invest in long- term sustainable solutions if they are to prepare for the future.


Growing Concerns Concerns around dry cleaning methods are growing and it’s no longer just an issue for industry professionals, as consumers are also becoming more aware about the processes involved. Unfortunately in the laundry sector, it is not uncommon to hear of fatalities due to contact with harmful chemicals, and as public concern regarding exposure to traditional dry cleaning solvents continues to grow, offering alternative solutions such as wet-cleaning, will be seen as the hallmark of a responsible business. This is demonstrated


specifi cally through the rising numbers of facilities now offering wet cleaning services, and an increase in the variety of wet cleaning products available on the market.


Clothing is a sensitive subject for consumers and when it leaves a customer’s sight they want to be sure that it comes back in the same shape, looking sharper than when they requested for it to be cleaned. Often, I fi nd that if people knew the chemical transactions that were going to be carried out on their garments, they may think twice before entering it into the dry cleaning process. With that said, as awareness of wet-cleaning does grow, it should be a key area of investment for professional garment care specialists, so they ensure they meet the needs of potential customers. For my customers, wet- cleaning has become a profi table, safe, long-term business investment that removes harsh chemicals from the cleaning process, yet still producing outstanding wash results time after time.


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