A little under a decade ago, alternatives to perc as a drycleaning solvent were unheard of. Now processes for professional clothes cleaning have been developed and are experiencing a rapidly increasing market share.

A new generation of high-quality, high flash point hydrocarbon solvents have emerged in recent years, while silicone solvent systems are gaining wider acceptance.

Drycleaning solvents on their own are not as effective in removing stains from textiles as water-based processes, however.

That is why there is a huge range of detergents and stain removal agents that are used to remove soiling, to minimise the re-depositing of soil on clothing and to allow the use of water to assist in stain removal.

The categories of chemicals used by drycleaning businesses include drycleaning solvents; other chemicals used in the drycleaning machine; pre-cleaning or spotting agents; and chemicals for the treatment of garments.

Drycleaning detergents perform three different functions: to carry moisture to help remove water-soluble soils; to suspend soil after it has been removed from the fabric; and to act as a spotting agent to penetrate the fabric so the solvent and water can remove stains.

Based on their charge and how they carry water, there are three classifications of detergents:

Anionic detergents – are negatively charged and carry water by means of solubilisation;

Non-anionic detergents – carry no charge and carry water by solubilisation;

Cationic detergents – are positively charged and carry water by means of an emulsion.

There are two different systems of introducing detergent into the drycleaning machine. In charged systems, detergent is added to the solvent or “charged” as a percentage of the solvent (normally 1% – 2%) to maintain a continuous concentration of detergent. Charged systems use anionic detergents.

In injection systems, (batched detergent injection,) solvent is added to the wheel saturating the garments and then detergent is injected into the flowline or into the drum by a pump or dump method.

Cationic detergents are used in injection systems. Heavily-stained garments can be pre-cleaned or pre-spotted with cleaning chemicals before being placed in the drycleaning machine.

The types of chemicals used depend on the type of stain and the type of fabric being cleaned. Garments that are still stained or soiled can be spot cleaned using the same chemicals as in pre-cleaning.

The two-bath system is the accepted drycleaning method. It produces the best results with an optimal soap dosing and continuous distillation.This minimises greying and removes any odour on the garments after cleaning.


Product range: Continental Clip is a UK-based company that has been in the laundry and drycleaning business for more than thirty years.

The company sells both the Sanitone and Fabritec ranges of products, together with its own-brand Professional range. Although the Professional range is primarily designed for the laundry sector, it does include drycleaning products in Professional Soft and Professional HC.

Sanitone is described as the simplest and safest drycleaning process on the market today. Using the system is said to lead to fewer reruns, less spotting and fewer customer complaints. It is environmentally friendly, easy for operators to use and competitively priced. The full range includes Sanitone Dry; Universal; Style Set Sizing; Injection Sizing; Sonata; Encore; Performance; and Summit.

Sanitone Performance 8916 detergent is a premium, solvent-based (hydrocarbon) cationic detergent formulated for the new modern high flash odourless hydrocarbon solvents and hydrocarbon systems.

Sanitone 8905 Encore, also for use in hydrocarbon solvents, is the latest advancement in the cationic, no-charge chemistry developed by Sanitone.

The Fabritec range of detergents has been developed to cover all professional cleaning machines and solvents in use today, including perchloroethylene or perc, hydrocarbon solvent, silicone solvent, GreenEarth and CO2.

Fabritec’s 5550 GreenEarth charge detergent has been developed exclusively for use with the new GreenEarth cleaning system.


Product range: Alex Reid offers Europe’s largest stock of specialist supplies for the textile care industries. The company is the exclusive distributor for the range of drycleaning detergents and chemicals developed by Kreussler of Germany for use with perc, hydrocarbon and GreenEarth solvents.

The Kreussler range includes brushing agents, special spotting agents and post-spotting agents.

Brushing agents are Prenett Max, for drycleaning normal textiles; Prenett Pur, for drycleaning delicates; and Lanadol Avant, for wetcleaning all textiles.

Special spotting agents are used to remove special stains from textiles and include the Prenett A-B-C pre-spotting kit range and the Deprit post-spotting agents. These are used to treat stains that cannot be removed during basic cleaning.

Developments: Kreussler has formulated a range of products that can be used with the GreenEarth solvents. These consist of a drycleaning detergent, pre-brushing agent, and spotting agents. They are Clip CSL, a drycleaning detergent with antistatic properties; Prenett CS for pre-brushing; and the Prenett A-B-C CS pre-spotting kit range.

The range has been tested and approved by GreenEarth Cleaning.

Kreussler supplies Clip Comfort for use in both perc and hydrocarbon machines. It is described as a concentrated multi-functional detergent. A combination of anionic and non-ionic surfactants and disinfectants, it is odour absorbent, with antistatic properties and bactericidal and comfort retexturing. Clip Combi is a concentrated drycleaning detergent with antistatic properties, and is also suitable for use in both perc and hydrocarbon machines.

Clip Conc Asep is a highly concentrated detergent; a mix of non-ionic and cationic surfactants with microbiocides, it gives good cleaning results, disinfects garments and ensures the solvent is maintained in a good condition by inhibiting any bacterial growth and helping to keep the water and air phases of the machine free.

For cleaning in liquid CO2, Kreussler has developed Clip Coo drycleaning detergent. It can be used for prebrushing neat or in a mix with 10% – 20% water. Stain removal is carried out by using Deprit 1,2 3.

Customer support: Alex Reid has two technical support managers who are trained in all aspects of drycleaning. Both are well-qualified to provide technical support to cleaners using Kreussler chemicals.

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Perc: Seitz of Germany describes its Novaclin Perfekt as a detergent concentrate with marked antistatic and retexturing properties. Multifunctional in its action, it has been developed exclusively for use in closed-circuit perc drycleaning machines.

Its antistatic action prevents the build-up of electrostatic charges and the formation of lints on the textiles during drying, and so reduces the risk of greying.

Dosage is between 2ml – 3.5ml of Novaclin Perfekt per litre of perc solvent according to the nature of the garments and the degree of soiling, plus a further 8ml – 10ml per kg of textiles to be drycleaned (approximately 1% of machine load capacity). For pre-spotting strongly soiled garments, Seitz recommends the use of its Polysol Ran and the Seitz spotting kits.

Hydrocarbon: Seitz describes its Preclin HC as a drycleaning activator for use with isoparaffinic hydrocarbon solvents.

The company says that it provides a unique combination of high-grade anionic and non-ionic surfactants, and is compatible with the Seitz drycleaning detergents Frankotex HCR, Frankotex KW and Frankotex Indus.

The multiple action of Preclin HC removes stain and this lessens pre- and post-spotting work. Its low water content eliminates the risk of greying, colour loss and shrinkage.

Silicon: Earth Clean GE is a prespotting agent and drycleaning detergent for use with silicon solvents such as GreenEarth.

Tested and approved by GreenEarth and recommended for drycleaning in GreenEarth systems, Earth Clean GE is based on biodegradable raw materials and contains a special grease-solubiliser consisting of vegetable oils. Apart from active detergents, Earth Clean GE contains bactericide substances as well as antistatic additives.

Earth Clean GE is used in a two-bath procedure. The dosage for the first bath is 4ml – 6ml/kg of goods (0.5% per kg of textiles treated) according to the nature of the goods and their degree of soiling. Dosage for the second bath is 4ml – 6 ml/kg of goods.

The detergent can be used undiluted or diluted with silicon solvent at a 1:1 ratio for pre-spotting especially tenacious stains.


Product range: One of the European leaders in the manufacture of cleaning and care products for drycleaning, leather care, carpet care, wetcleaning and laundry, Büfa has developed full product ranges for drycleaning, including spotters, pre-brushers and detergents.

Developments: Sales and technical support manager Jürgen Wasshausen says Büfa has developed, in co-operation with 3M in the USA, a retexturing and reproofing formulation for drycleaning Scotchgard products. The range includes Secasit and Scotchgard stain and water repellent for perc systems and Secarbon and Scotchgard for hydrocarbon systems.

To increase business for drycleaners, Büfa has introduced a full range for cleaning leather. Leather articles can be washed using the Büfa leather washing system, providing cleaners with an additional profit maker. The drycleaner can wash standard leather garments that have normal dyeings (such as black, brown, beige and yellow). Articles are classified before washing.

Garments are examined for stains, damage or unusual appearance. The range includes Oldopal Forte, a pre-brushing agent for greasy collars and intensive general soiling; Oldopal Basic, used as the washing agent for the first bath; Oldopal Prefinish for special washing and the removal of odours and restoring the handle of suede leather; Lival Licker Concentrate, a refatting agent which can be added to a second rinsing; Lival Colour GL dyes for restoring the colour of leather garments, and Lival GLF for sealing. Lival GLF is a finishing product for suede leather, refreshing colours or slightly light areas.

Cleaners will find helpful advice in a spotting course that is now available on video or CD. For spotting, Büfa has three different kits – Secafix for use with perc solvent; Detafix which consists of five different spotters for pre- and post-spotting in perc, hydrocarbon and wetcleaning applications; and DetaProfi, a more specialised range for those difficult stains and containing five different spotters.


Product range: Cole & Wilson is an independent UK-based company that has manufactured and supplied the laundry and drycleaning industry with detergents and stain removal products for more than thirty years.

The range of products includes perc and hydrocarbon solvents, a full range of detergents and stain removers and new products such as silicone solvent and detergent.

The drycleaning range includes Sultrasoft HC2, which is a concentrated cationic detergent for use with any closed-circuit perc machine. It contains everything necessary for antistatic control, odour removal, easy finishing and cleaning. The high strength means that the dosage can be kept low and so a drum lasts for extra loads.

Sultrasoft HC2 is also available with Fabro, which eliminates odour problems by providing a freshly laundered smell with the finish achieved by Sultrasoft HC2.

The use of hydrocarbon solvents as cleaning mediums has seen a big increase over the last few years, according to managing director Richard Cole. Cole & Wilson buy solvents in bulk and so savings can be great, particularly when filling a machine with solvent.

Sultrasoft HC as an additive and Duplo Carbon as a pre-spotter are ideal partners for use with hydrocarbon solvent, together with the Cleaner range of stain removers.

More recently, silicone solvent cleaning machines have been taken up by UK drycleaners. Cole & Wilson has been involved from the start and is able to supply solvent and detergent.

The company also provides a full range of products to restore work damaged from stains or odours.

Its Cleaner series of stain removers is invaluable in ensuring stains are successfully removed. Cleaner IA has been developed solely for use on stains on sensitive garments.

Customer support: “As all drycleaning additives are produced by Cole & Wilson the products are highly competitive in price,” says Richard Cole.

“This means even the most advanced and concentrated items like Sultrasoft HC2 are available without premium prices.

“A wealth of experience has been built up in all aspects of the textile and leather cleaning industry” he adds.

“One of our strengths is the technical support available that is always available either in house or via our technical sales representatives.”