Drycleaning machine maintenance should, for the professional cleaner today, be simple, thanks to automation and computerisation says Ian Parris, technical director of Parrisianne.

He underlines how maintenance must be arranged as a diary routine, minimally interfering with production.

It must be kept uncomplicated, and each drycleaning and maintenance program must return the drycleaning machine to a status quo, allowing any process to be run at any time. Those providing instruction on maintenance should be industry-skilled, not installation and commissioning engineers who do not have a knowledge of how a drycleaning shop operates, Mr Parris stresses.

Not swamped

Adequate time needs to be given to instructing staff who will be responsible for carrying out maintenance tasks, and efforts need to be made to ensure they are not swamped with technical details.

As much maintenance as possible should be automated, Mr Parris contends. The scope for building maintenance into fully automatic or semi-automatic programs is considerable. With new machine technology, lint screen cleaning can be achieved by solvent jet spray action during cage filling.

The draining, flushing-out and refilling of the water separator can be automated. Ecological filter dropping can be incorporated into a normal one-bath cleaning process, it only adds five or six minutes to the length of the program. Filter performance, in terms of solvent flow rate, can be poor if maintenance prompting is linked to filter pressure.

Good filter performance is achieved when maintenance is built into the daily routine and fluctuation in the solvent flow rate is minimised.

With the still, cleaning and daily residue pump out can be automated-— manual scrape out is a monthly task. The task of button trap cleaning, with a good machine design, can be reduced to two or three times-a-day.

Computerisation and information technology is allowing technical support in the drycleaning industry to achieve new levels of efficiency, saving the cleaner time and money.

Customised software allows better methods to be employed for storing and using information. For example, installed equipment within a shop can be pictured digitally and the images stored by a technical service department. The saying “One picture is worth a thousand words” is relevant.

Regular inspections of equipment by technical service staff are vital if the machinery is to be run optimally. The support technician is likely to have good benchmark references for comparing a particular machine’s performance with that of other, similar, machines. Eddie Samuels and Keith Tyrell, joint managing directors of Permac Technical Services, the company dedicated to servicing and supplying parts for Böwe equipment, point to how drycleaning machines’ sophisticated computer controls have revolutionised maintenance.

A real time computer system will automatically prompt such activities as filter and still maintenance and identify problems within the machine via strategically positioned sensors.

Permac advises that all machines, including those with built-in maintenance programs, should be serviced by an engineer at appropriate periods to ensure performance is not be reduced by faulty valves, insufficient lubrication, leaking seals and so on.

The company also emphasises how it remains vital for a person working in the drycleaning shop to attend to, with the correct frequency, routine tasks such as removing debris from the button trap and cleaning lint/dust filters.


Martin Urry, chief engineer, Duval, says some drycleaners ignore and under-maintain their machines.

“Depending on the number of the drycleaning machine cycles run, a service may be required once or twice a year. At most shops, the drycleaning machine needs two services a year,” he says.

The systems of any drycleaning machine will, over time, be affected by dust, dirt and debris, reducing the efficiency of the equipment. Drying performance becomes impaired, distillation slower, and the button trap unit may suffer a blockage.

In their trading week pattern, most shops have a distinctly quieter day when servicing can be carried out. If the service is to be conducted on a working day, it is advised that the drycleaner processes all outstanding work the day before the engineer arrives. Then, while the engineer is working on the drycleaning machine, the cleaned work can be finished. Drycleaning machine servicing is not something for the DIY enthusiast. The tasks involved, component stripping, cleaning, gasket replacing and so on—need to be left to a trained service engineer.

However, proper attention must be given by shop personnel to routine tasks such as removing lint from the screen on which it collects and clearing debris from the button trap.

Mr Urry says a distillation impairment problem has been noticed. Household textiles are usually treated with fire retarding chemicals and possibly other special products as well, and these can cause a coating to build on the base of the still. The coating is insulating, reducing heat transfer and thereby adversely affecting the still’s performance. Provided the coating is not allowed to become too thick, it can be removed with cellulose thinners or caustic soda. However, when the coating is thick, a grinding wheel needs to be used to remove it.

If possible, it is best to process household textiles at the end of the working day.

Following this processing, distillation and cook out should be effected and, the next morning, the still cleaned. If this procedure is followed the products shed from the household textiles are not baked on to the base of the still.


With hydrocarbon machines, it is essential that vacuum pumps’ lubrication is checked weekly. Operators sometimes interfere with a set program, cutting short the drying phase. This is serious from the health standpoint as solvent vapour concentration in the drum when the machine door is opened will not have been reduced to the required level.

Servicing should be seen as an investment, Mr Urry states. It ensures drycleaning machine efficiency is optimised and it prevents breakdowns.