The birth of dry cleaning was in the mid 1800s when a dye-works owner accidentally spilt kerosene on a tablecloth and then noticed how clean it became. From that time early dry cleaners started using petroleum based solvents such as gasoline and kerosene to clean clothes.
The term dry cleaning is therefore really a misnomer as the solvents are indeed fluids but the description dry was born through the absence of water and remains in common use.
Gasoline and kerosene were soon found to have the very adverse property of flammability causing very unpleasant accidents and alternatives were urgently sought.
Around 1920 dry cleaners switched to using various chlorinated solvents which were much less flammable and had far greater cleaning power.
By the mid 1930s the industry had adopted a standard known as perchoroethylene or colloquially perc. This was stable, nonflammable, had excellent cleaning power and was gentle to most garments.
Modern day dry cleaning machines use perc. within a closed circuit processing system which prevents the escape of noxious fumes and results in well over 99% of this chemical being removed from materials by the end of the cleaning cycle.
The operations performed by a dry cleaning machine are similar to any washing machine and clothes dryer. The main operational difference is that whereas with laundry dirty soap & water are disposed of down the drain at the end of the operation, with dry cleaning the cleansing chemical is repeatedly purified and recycled through filtering and distilling.
Because some materials will be damaged by soap & water and detergents and in addition the washing of delicate fabrics by hand may be found laborious, dry cleaning is often either the only, or the preferred option.
Furthermore while laundry is effective in removing wet-side stains (e.g. mud, soup), dry cleaning solvents with the correct additives and through the pre & post spotting processes will, through the greater penetrating power of the chemicals used, more successfully remove both wet-side and dry-side stains (e.g. grease, oil-base paint, tar).
At The Real Don we not only use our experience, world brand machinery, leading processes and chemicals to cater for all your cleaning needs but also ensure safe & eco friendly protection against insects, bugs and mites, to materials entrusted to our care.
Check out more facts from our friends at Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_cleaning#History