Dry and wet cleaning, two different techniques, two different worlds even if the line that separates them is thin and fragile according to many businesses as, substantially, there is a strict relation between the two, a continuity even. Let us enter the universe of textile cleaning where various points of view, philosophies and businesses compose the sector. Behind the ideas, we can observe a variety of machines, techniques and washing technologies that differ one from another.
As far as wet cleaning is concerned, the final result reflects the washing system, that is the combination of operators’ skill, the efficiency of chemical products and the quality of the washing machine itself. Washing in water emphasizes the effect of components in terms of mechanical and chemical action and the temperature, as well as the time. Dry-cleaning instead, is a particular technique that uses solvent instead of water. Closed circuit dry-cleaning machines are equipped with a drum, tanks, filters and a distillation system. In this efficient mechanism, the rest is done by the solvent. Dry cleaning systems have been simplified and developed over the recent years, applying innovative and advanced
Companies, products and washing techniques offering results that guarantee perfectly cleaned and sanitized garments constitute the topic of this month’s Reportage and present a wide spectrum overview on dry and wet cleaning.

Mirco Mongillo, the Sales Manager at Firbimatic S.p.A. explains, “our core business is dry-cleaning and our technology is linked to this cleaning method as well as to the sanitizing certifications of our machines. Our alternative solvents machines allow us to reach the level of cleaning and sanitizing at a moderate cost. All this also allows to underline the professionality of clients and, at the same time, to offer an alternative cleaning solution to the final user, that is a solution with an ecologically compatible environmental impact (thanks to the closed-circuit cleaning system). Cleaning garments while saving money will also constitute a success in terms of laundry’s economy. It is the cleaning cycle that creates value. Over the last years, we have focused on sanitizing certifications for our machines. We carried out a research in collaboration with specialized labs following the guidelines by the Bologna University in order to determine the sanitizing of our production cycles. This has led us to the elimination of more than 99% of bacteria, spores and mould. We examined each stage of the entire productive process in order to guarantee the same level of performance of the machines over time.

Gabriele Cuppini, the Sales Director at Union S.p.A. says, “we are present in the Italian market but we mainly work with international markets, and in particular, with the United States”. Let us focus on dry-cleaning. “We manufacture machines that use different
solvents and that can reach excellent results within optimal work conditions. The great division here is between dry and wet cleaning, and it relates to certain types of garments. One cannot be replaced by the other. As far as washing techniques go, as producers, we need to consider multiple needs of the market that appears more and more fragmented while meeting a variety of requests. We actually need to mention consumptions here, too. They differ in case of wet and dry cleaning and the producers should be able to provide clients with correct guidelines in relation to their requests. To keep the leading position in the market, with some of the most important clients in the world in our portfolio, we developed a very wide range of products with almost customized cleaning techniques. We deal with garments that cannot be washed in water nor dry-cleaned in solvents, therefore we have developed a hybrid machine, that thanks to its particular technology, uses dry steam at a low temperature and detergents, which allows to treat delicate and costly garments. What is more, the producers of chemical detergents have actually already started to produce more and more customized solvents. The European and the U.S. markets (alternative solvents were used sooner in the USA than in Europe) are quite different in terms of both the environmental issues and the size of the stores. The production volumes in the USA are different than those in Europe (the bestselling machine in the United States is a-25 kg unit while the European standard is a-15 kg unit): such are the basic, yet crucial differences that push the market in different directions”.

Matteo Gerosa, the National Sales Manager at Jensen Italia S.p.A. underlines, “still a few years ago, we used to think that it was right to take advantage of high washing temperatures. Then, the green tendency brought lower temperatures while trying to compensate through chemical actions. When the viral pandemic arrived (COVID-19), we witnessed a 180° change and the return to high temperatures so that the anti-COVID protocols could be followed. We believe, that the future after the viral emergency, will take us back to low temperatures (and to a better management of the waste water and water reuse) which will then lead to the prolonged lifecycle of textiles. We have recently introduced a new system called “UV Clean” for the sanitization of machines, especially when it comes to double compartments in tunnel washers, to prevent the presence of bacteria. The system has been certified and it works independently from the machine, and permanently, too. It can also be applied to older machines. As far as a washing process goes, apart from the defined pre-washing and washing stages, we have two alternatives for the rinsing stage: static rinsing and counterflow rinsing. In the first case, everything takes place in a single compartment including wash water loading and downloading which greatly contributes to water saving. The counterflow rinsing instead, a more traditional way, is supported by a mechanical action offering a better quality rinsing. The configuration of a tunnel washer is never really a standard one as, following the specific needs of clients, it is always tailor-made.

Marco Niccolini, the General Sales and Marketing Director at Renzacci S.p.A. explains, “there is no doubt that today, more than ever, dry-cleaning has become a synonym of an easy use, velocity and bio-compatibility to the point that it has become more and more known of as the bio dry-cleaning all around the world. Our last generation machines for instance, are also available in versions equipped with a new, exclusive optimized filtering system called ”NO FLEX SYSTEM” that can replace the distillation, which leads to great advantages in terms of the simplicity of use and the significant reduction of the running costs. A dry-cleaning machine is subjected to an interaction with the operator’s professional skill, creating a prolific synergy that will strongly influence the final result. It is equally important that the professional preparation of an operator constitutes an essential added value of business activity. We believe, starting from the market requests, that there is a strong interaction between wet and dry-cleaning. New, natural cleaning systems with the use of natural solvents interact with wet cleaning very well, allowing for techniques that result in particularly accurate treatments. To sum up, we can identify the following pillars:
– The first pillar is the natural bio dry-cleaning technique that allows for a very high quality treatment, in particular in case of new fabrics and materials the garments of today are made of; a hypoallergenic, biodegradable, low consumption treatment, with the pollution rate reduced to minimum (including the reduction of the microplastics pollution), certified and validated by numerous university studies, and greatly reflecting the consumers’ awareness.
– The second pillar is based on a professional washing of garments thanks to the technology by Renzacci and a system called Oceano. Together with the EcoCare System, it allows to reduce water consumptions by 40% and to decrease the release of microplastics consistently.
Both systems can work in synergy allowing to treat a complete range of garments. Therefore, dry and wet cleaning should not be considered as two opposing techniques. On the contrary, they can combine and lead to excellent results”.

“At Kannegiesser, the key words are: washing quality and revenue- generating machines”, claims Alessandro Rolli, the Managing Director at Kannegiesser Italia. “Recently, we have made significant progress, especially when it comes to that part of the washing process that does not constitute an active part of washing. There are a few passive stages in any washing process, e.g. loading, linen passing from one compartment to another or transferring to the press. We reduced the time used in all these stages and we focused on the active time of washing. The target of a modern machine is to increase the active time and decrease the passive time. How did we manage to reduce the passive time? By increasing the velocity at which a compartment is emptied, and by filling it with fresh water from above, which has an important effect from a mechanical point of view as it allows to control the pumps not through time but by sensors. They detect the end of the emptying stage of a compartment in real time. Thanks to these technical interventions, the productivity increase is between 20% and 25% per day, while the quality of washing stays the same. Speaking about a company’s revenue and that of a productive process, it is crucial for us to analyse how many more kg of linen we can process within the same time range. As far as our machines go, we are convinced that the divided compartments are essential, without any mixed baths, but with an accurate control of alkalinity and a particular attention to the chemical products. All this allows for a better operative managemen of a machine. Another crucial aspect to us is the simplicity of operations
carried out by machine operators while managing it. As far as sanitizing goes, our machines offer ideal solutions with highly effective, optimal chemical, mechanical and heating processes to obtain a sanitized washing process and the final product”.

According to Eugenio Boni, the General Manager at Italclean S.r.l., “in the past, dry cleaning and washing made part of two different and much more separated worlds: in brief, cotton was wet-cleaned while wool was dry-cleaned. The understanding and collaboration between machine operators and producers have allowed to develop more and more effective and customized washing programs. We produce both washers and dry-cleaning machines. The indications on garments’ tags are often not good enough, so it is the operator’s skill that really makes a difference in garments treatment. When it comes to the differences between dry and wet cleaning, we also need to consider the ironing time here: a wet-cleaned garment will take more time to be finished than a dry-cleaned one. A perfect laundry should have both dry and wet cleaning machines in the store. Claiming that every garment can be wet cleaned and that dry-cleaning is not necessary anymore is absolutely false, perhaps reflecting some backyard interests”.

“Girbau manufactures washing machines exclusively”, says Massimo Scatto, the General Manager at Girbau Italia. “In collaboration with some of our partners, chemical producers, we have developed a special water based treatment defined as Professional Wet Cleaning. It is an alternative solution to dry-cleaning also for delicate garments, wool and outerwear. In particular, the system relies on a careful choice of suitable chemical products that need to be in line with the washing and drying cycles. Moreover, we have developed three specific programs with three primary chemical manufacturers (Seitz, Büfa, Proquimia) and we are working on similar systems with other businesses (Ecolab, Johnson Diversey). With Girbau, clients can choose the best solution among our numerous, trusted partners. We do not only offer our clients machines but also an initial package containing equipment, external dosing pumps for chemical products, and a chemical products kit that we recommend should be used. Moreover, in collaboration with one of our most important partners, we have developed a finishing system for wet-cleaned garments.

“Ozone water-based washing systems are the most requested at the moment”, informs Andrea Rotondi, the Vice President of the Rotondi Group S.r.l.. “The old system where ozone was simply injected into water was not very successful in Italy in the past because it presented numerous disadvantages. For a few  years now, we have been offering a system where ozone is not just injected into water but water is transformed into ozonated water with constant concentration and stability over time, which ensures stronger cleaning and sanitizing power. This allows us to guarantee sanitized garments. Our system is composed of a separate device that is applied to all our IPSO Rotondi washing machines of any capacity. The ozonated water has three advantages: water is used at a lower temperature, lower consumption of detergents and a more accurate sanitization. The latter is currently the most crucial aspect. We have recently witnessed a significant increase in orders for machines provided with this sanitizing system also from self-service laundries.

Moving on, we meet Electrolux, a Swedish multinational company, and speak with Marco Oleoni, the Sales Area Manager Laundry at Electrolux Professional Italia and a reference for dry-cleaning businesses in Italy. “As washing machines producers, Electrolux Professional has focused on garment washing systems for the last twenty years as an eco-friendly alternative to dry-cleaning for delicate garments. Ad hoc washing programs, a
thorough knowledge of fabrics combined with specific detergents and advanced washing equipment are crucial in obtaining optimal results in the treatment of all types of garments, and in particular, the delicate ones. Our revolutionary system lagoon® Advanced Care represents an eco-sustainable approach as it does not use any chemical solvents that could be harmful to employees and clients, but it is based on specific, eco-friendly detergents for treating delicate fabrics such as wool, silk and synthetic fibers. An easy, quick and efficient system thanks to a combined action of our washing machines, drying and finishing stages.
In the washing stage, the exclusive Prov’tex function presents a very efficacious, yet ultra-delicate hydraulic action allowing to obtain a higher loading factor than any other traditional washing system. The lagoon® system also provides dosing devices for an automatic dosing of detergents into the washers. Having reduced the time of the washing process is the real added value as it offers best-in-class results in less than an hour. From the moment at which a garment is received to its delivery (an express service) it takes: 5 minutes for pre-spotting, 25 minutes for washing, 20 minutes for drying and finally, 5/7 minutes for finishing. Lagoon® washing systems for woolen garments have been approved by Woolmark since 2004 as suitable for the treatment of pure new woolen garments tagged “only dry-cleaning”. What is more, Electrolux also obtained a certification from the Hohenstein Institute that conducted comparative tests on results obtained through the lagoon® Advanced Care washing system and those obtained by solvents for delicate garments treatment. After more than 10 cycles, the final results were equivalent in terms of fabrics resistance, shape variation and color fading”.

Finally, Marco Boccola, the Sales Director at iLSA S.p.A. declares, “I do not see any type of a conflict between dry and wet cleaning. The two techniques can easily be integrated in order to obtain great results from the point of view of both garments cleaning and disinfection. As far as dry-cleaning machines go, they are closed-cycle systems, so the concept of disinfecting is fundamentally linked to the correct maintenance of the machine itself and to some correct guidelines to follow. We are actually working on a simple “protocol” including elements that will allow for the cleaning and disinfection of potentially contaminated parts of the machine, cycle after cycle, aiming at the elimination of possible bacteria. So far, we have always addressed all our clients about the correct cleaning and maintenance of machines to guarantee their correct functioning. Today, this concept needs to be extended over the disinfection as well. Solvents present a certain degree of efficiency but it is still necessary to clean the machine’s critical parts correctly. It is essential to develop protocols for different technologies: machines with bath and distillation, machines with bath and without distillation, and the Jet Clean technique applied to our patented IPura machine with nebulization. We are constantly focused on the development of textile cleaning techniques. What is more, all our machines are going to be provided with a program to be activated periodically to guarantee a correct disinfection process”.


by Marzio Nava