Drycleaners are constantly seeking ways to reinvent themselves by improving and adapting their services. Many cleaners now provide both a traditional drycleaning and a wetcleaning service, with this sector growing dramatically over the last few years. They are also diversifying into specialist services.
Professional textile care can now encompass laundry, drycleaning, wetcleaning, leather care, carpet care and additional specialist textile care applications that range from wedding dresses to Ugg boots.

Last year’s ExpoDetergo in Milan strengthened the view that more textile care professionals are keen to find out what’s new and learn about best practice and the new products that the market has to offer. Operators can now view the options, assess consumer trends for themselves and determine the best cleaning solution to meet the specific requirements of their business and its future development. The recent introduced solvents are Ktex, Arcaclean, HIGlo, Intense and Sensene. These solvents are available besides established solvents like perc, hydrocarbon solvent (HCS), Solvon K4 and GreenEarth.

There is a wide choice of chemical products to assist solvent performance and there are ranges that are specifically formulated to work with each of the different solvents including perc and the various alternatives. These additives can include drycleaning detergents, pre-cleaning/spotting agents, garment treatment chemicals, optical brighteners, bactericides, fabric conditioners and anti-static and anti-lint agents.


Avoiding confusion

As Stacey King of DTC pointed out in the pages of LCN last June, the selection of drycleaning chemicals is becoming an ever-more difficult task for the cleaner due to the increase in the number of solvents and spotting kits now on the market. “Confusion regarding the purpose of some of the chemicals can result in misuse of detergent, spot chemicals and other machine additives. It is still a common issue for cleaners not to use any detergent at all.”

There are still drycleaners that believe that the solvent is such an excellent cleaner that no further additives are needed, but this is not correct, according to Büfa Cleaning Systems of Germany. The chemicals manufacturer says that organic solvents need a detergent that will take care of the soiling, prevent greying and avoid static and other problems.

Schwerdtfeger at Büfa says that although drycleaning implies the absence of water, as a pioneer in modern wetcleaning, the company advises every drycleaner to combine the advantages of drycleaning fluids with the potential provided by wetcleaning. “Nowadays a modern drycleaning shop consists of a smaller drycleaning machine and a proper wetcleaning machine. The combination of both techniques can handle any kind of garments,” he says.

Although the UK drycleaning market seems to be still focused on perc as the main drycleaning solvent, Schwerdtfeger says that other alternatives, hydrocarbon or silicone-based solvents, are on the rise.

Büfa says that successful textile care businesses now use both drycleaning and wetcleaning methods. Büfa’s CareConcept for wetcleaning, laundry hygiene and drycleaning includes detergents for use with ModulDOS, a modular system for cleaning with perc and hydrocarbon that allows the cleaner to achieve excellent cleaning results when it is matched to the respective fabric type, says Schwerdtfeger.

The company produces detergents for use with other solvents, such as Silco Clean, a detergent for use with silicon solvent (GreenEarth).

Silco Clean is described as a highly concentrated detergent with outstanding antistatic properties that creates an excellent sense of the cleaned garments and a pleasant scent. It is supported with by Silco Pre, a pre-brushing agent, and stain-resistant Silco Lotus finishing agent.

There is also a range of products for cleaning in Sensene solvent. Sensene is a formulation based on modified alcohols, is inherently biodegradable and is suitable for regular multisolvent or HCS machines. Many stains can be easily removed in Sensene in conjunction with the Büfa’s Secasene textile care series.

Secasene Pre can is ideal for use as a pre-brushing agent. It is very effective in application and easy to flush out. For stubborn stains, Bufa advises the use of products from the Detaprofi range.

Secasene Clean is a highly concentrated cationic detergent with excellent cleaning performance and antistatic properties with a pleasant and soft handle.

Finally, Secasene Lotus is a special fabric finish and impregnation agent for use in Sensene and it has excellent water, oil and dirt repellent properties. Secasene Lotus is only used for spraying and the amount calculated is sprayed on to the garments in concentrated form. Secasene Lotus can be sprayed on to garments while they are still damp from centrifuging or when they are dry. To obtain a good impregnation effect the goods should be well cleaned and rinsed. Spraying time should be at least 3 minutes and intermediate centrifuging before drying is unnecessary. Garments should be left to tumble for at least a further 5 minutes before switching on the blower.

“Each kind of garment can be individually treated with customised products. The products are added selectively so the system is more economical and it also eliminates the need for pre-spotting, so reducing time and labour,” says Schwerdtfeger.


Difficult to decide

For professional drycleaners, especially for businesses new to the market, deciding between different kinds of solvents like perchloroethylene, hydrocarbon solvents currently dominating the European market, and other variations like cyclosiloxanes, can be very difficult. Kreussler of Germany says that its SYSTEMK4 is the sustainable alternative to cleaning with perc. Thomas Zeck, commercial director of Kreussler Textile Care says that the system’s SOLVONK4 – a halogen-free organic solvent – shows not only even better cleaning power than perc in many cases, but sports a far superior environmental profile. The solvent is complemented by the pre-brushing agent PRENETTK4, drycleaning detergent CLIPK4 and the proofing spray VINOYK4. Combining the products with other Kreussler solutions can also cover any special requirements, such as leather finishing for example.

Zec sees excellent opportunities for SystemK4 in the future, both in Germany and worldwide. “Depending on the state of regulation, perc is still being used, but in the long term, we expect that more and more countries will look for alternatives.”

“More than 1,200 SystemK4 cleaning machines have already been installed worldwide, and our clients are more than happy with the excellent cleaning results, the soft touch and brilliant colours.”

Dr. Manfred Seiter, technical director of Kreussler Textile Care adds that “SystemK4, using SolvonK4 as solvent, is the first alternative to classic drycleaning which cleans as well, if not better, than perc, while being neither a dangerous material nor a hazardous substance in accordance with CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging).

Kreussler also produces the Deprit Professional product family that can be used for pre- as well as for postspotting, with water and solvents. The Kreussler colour code shows which version works best with which kind of stain; numbers 1 to 3 covering almost 90% of the common garden variety spots, the other three targeting tougher staining like old blood stains, or metal containing ointments. Using the products in ascending order additionally protects from fabric damage, as this avoids protein fixation on unknown fibres.

The three Prenett products are suitable for prespotting with any type of solvent. The user friendly colour code helps choosing the right bottle: the blue Prenett A contains an acidic solvent for the removal of stains containing tannin, such as coffee, tea, red wine, fruit or grass. Albumen- and starch-containing spots like blood, milk, food residues and sweat are tackled by using the alkaline Prenett B in the red bottle, while Prenett C in a green bottle is a neutral stain remover for solvent-soluble species like paint, varnish, cosmetics and adhesives.


Cleaning with confidence

According to gentle care specialists, Cole & Wilson, innovation in the laundry industry has led to many new developments that are changing the way drycleaning outfits run their business. Chemical formula advancements mean that a wider range of textiles can be confidently cleaned and in a more sustainable manner. When it comes to the drycleaning process, these changes have brought to market a new type of solvent, one that is more flexible than the traditional perc.

Detailed and elaborate garments with trimming such as beads, sequins, pearls, glass, leatherette or even thermal-lined curtains traditionally cannot be processed in perc, the preferred solvent of many drycleaners. 

Cole & Wilson introduced its all-round drycleaning solvent, HiGlo, into the UK in 2015 as an innovative alternative to the more traditional perc. Developed by Cole & Wilson and manufactured by Christeyns, HiGlo offers excellent cleaning in all types of multi-solvent or hydrocarbon drycleaning machines, being compatible with all types of filtration systems such as spin disks, cartridges and powders. According to Cole & Wilson, HiGlo is an environmentally friendly drycleaning solvent alternative, verified by CTTN (Institute de recherché sur l’entretien et le nettoyage), an independent research institute in France. Thanks to its great cleaning results on both hydrophilic and lipophilic soiling, it is becoming widely used in drycleaning outlets across the UK and Ireland, as well as Europe.

HiGlo leaves textiles with a smooth, soft touch, due to limited pilling and roughening and an added fullness along with a neutral smell. It is essentially a gentle solvent that is tough on stains but not on the fabric itself and works well on delicate garments with beads, sequins and trimmings, making it a very versatile option for the modern drycleaner.

Cleaning with HiGlo requires a normal process time of around 50-65 minutes and due to the nature of the solvent, the garments come out crease free, meaning reduced time spent finishing and thus a reduction in energy costs.

The solvent comes with a range of specially formulated additives. Its Sultra range includes pre-brushing agents and cleaning enhancers. Sultrasoft Deo Hi is a machine injection detergent that acts as a cleaning enhancer with a strong anti-static effect, and the pre-spotting agent is Sultrex Hi, which can also be used as a pre-wash detergent in the first wash in the drycleaning machine. HiGlo solvent, combined with Sultex Hi and Sutrasoft Deo Hi produces excellent results, “garments are less creased and easier to press.”

Difficult to remove stains can be treated with the Sultraspot stain removers, including Sultraspot Soft for removal of general stains of very delicate items. In addition, the Sultraspot series, a six bottle professional Spotting Kit, gives an effective but easy to use solution to pre and post spotting. Each of the 500ml bottles – Protein, Colour, Mineral, Tint, Metal and Soft – is designed to tackle a different staining problem.

“With Cole & Wilson, it is not only a case of providing the solvents and cleaning chemicals,” explains business development manager Hemant Zavery. “Assistance with setting up, planning, implementation and aftercare are all on offer from our expert team, this instills confidence and delivers product knowledge for launderers and their staff.”

Crystal Wave in Dublin is one of the first drycleaning outfits in Ireland to use HiGlo, commencing use of the products in December2018 along with the installation of a new drycleaning machine. Owner Renbo Wang was keen to look at new ‘green’ solvents and the fact that HiGlo is easier on the environment was a big selling point for him. He says: “I have definitely noticed the garments are softer and HiGlo can also be used on clothing with leather trim, which has been an issue in the past with perc.”

The Dry Cleaning Business, a long established outfit based near Wembley in West London, recently introduced the use of HiGlo to its five drycleaning machines.  This highly professional business occupies over 6,000sq ft and offers a service for both commercial and private customers; it is also the appointed service provider for Laundrapp, within the M25. For owner Kirtash Patel, consideration for the environment plays a key part in the running of the business, which looks to use detergents, soaps and chemicals from reputable companies that provide the highest standards of safety and quality. “We have only been using HiGlo for a short time, but there are lots of positives.  I do actually feel it cleans better and the fabrics are softer following the dryclean process,” says Mr Patel.

At Kensington Dry Cleaners in central London, garments are very often drycleaned and returned to the customer on the same day.  Process times are therefore very important, as is the smell of the clothing following the treatment. “HiGlo leaves the clothes with a lovely fragrance and brighter whites, handling process times are also reduced which means we can turnaround more items in a day,” says owner Dave Pires.

Seitz is a family-owned, German company with a commitment to the development of specific solutions for specific customer groups, within all fields of professional cleaning, sanitation, disinfection and textile care. The solvent Intense from Seitz is a boosted hydrocarbon solvent formulated with glycol ethers.

Products include Solvex 1, 2 and 3 pre-spotting agents for grease and colour stains; Polysol universal brushing agent; Activate Intense cleaning activator; Sigma Intense, which contains anionic and nonionic surfactants, antistatic and handle-modifying components, as well as the FreshClean system to give products a pleasant smell; Nova Finish, applicable to all fabrics and knitted fabrics made from natural and synthetic fibres; and Desolan NT, an additive for odour removal and textile hygiene, suitable for all solvents.