LAUNDRY GUIDE — The antibacterial effect of dry cleaning


EPAChemicalListDry cleaning today is a certainly valid alternative to the “classic” wet cleaning that we usually do at home and not only. Stains removal from garments and other textile products can be done by applying the two above traditional and historically used methods.

Basically, the use of water as the means of cleaning is the key factor in differentiating the two methods as detergents are applied in both cleaning methods. In this article, we are going to study the hygienic action of dry cleaning comparing it to wet cleaning for the most part.

Without doubt, PERC has got great cleaning effect on soiled garments due to a simple chemical rule: “like dissolves like” and for this reason, in spite of the specific attention required while using it and the danger it represents for men according to some recent research, it has been an ideal solvent for textile dry cleaning for decades.

As far as wet cleaning is concerned, it is safe to say that by combining an antibacterial action of temperature (starting from 40°C) with a detergent containing antibacterial components, it is possible to obtain a high sanitary standard washing.

What are the well-known facts on the antibacterial effects of PERC?

First scientific tests were carried out in the 1920’s(1) but the most reliable and certified results come from the 60’s (2) when the post-war development was in full expansion and many research institutes conducted scientific research relative to discoveries of those days. Also dry cleaning and PERC were subjected to the analysis which revealed surprising results from the research point of view at that time. The mechanical action of washing combined with chemical properties of the product have demonstrated, through tests, to have a good antibacterial effect. PERC turned out to be efficient and competitive comparing to other solvents either with organic matrix or petrol deriving ones. According to research data, the bacterial charge decreased by 80%. The efficiency was boosted by applying the combination detergent-solvent that not only helped decrease the bacterial charge but it also eliminated a wide range of bacteria species.

water-splash2It cannot be denied that the problem of garments hygienic conditions has become extremely relevant today because of textile production outsourcing, among other things, to those parts of the world where sanitary conditions are incomparable to those in Europe due to necessity or cultural differences.Recently, some consumers suffered from skin rash after putting on some clothes: the problem was caused by parasites’ bites (the picture under a microscope shows a parasite laying eggs on textile fibers).

Nowadays, considering the technology development of the sector and a higher production refining processes of products, it is right to wonder whether some further studies of the sector would not be necessary to be able to check the possibilities of increasing the sanitary action of dry cleaning.

(1):”The bacterial action of dry cleaning” – Lloyd E. Jackson – Mellon Institute of Industrial Research, University of Pittsburgh.

(2): “Microbiology of Drycleaning” – Robert R. Banville and Ethel McNeil – U.S. Department of Agriculture, Washington, D.C.

By Ecochem s.r.l. and Ritex Textiles Reasearch and Testing