Eco-Friendly Dry Cleaning Thrives in Indy
Apr 01, 2014 01:08AM
By Lanette Er
A spilled kerosene lamp in 1855 was the inspiration for the development of modern-day dry cleaning. Jean Baptiste Jolly noticed that the cloth underneath his toppled lamp became cleaner after the accidental bath. Shortly after, he added a dry-cleaning service to his dye-works business.
Dry cleaning—named for its use of a chemical solvent instead of soap and water—has come a long way from the highly toxic and volatile kerosene and gasoline used early on. Carbon tetrachloride and trichloroethylene became its dominant chemicals after World War II yet were still unsafe and required massive machinery. The industry then embraced the use of perchloroethylene (perc), safer, faster, more effective and facilitated drycleaners to use more compact equipment that could fit in small retail spaces offering one-hour service. Perc is still used in many dry-cleaning operations, but there is another, even cleaner solvent.
“One of the things I found ironic about our industry,” says Steve Arnold, owner of all Indy area Classic Cleaners locations, “is that even our lint had to be sent away for chemical disposal because perc came in contact with it. That lint was no different than the clothes we sent home with our customers. Whatever we got to replace, perc had to be cleaner and better.”
Classic has since applied the revolutionary System K4, a closelooped process utilizing SolvonK4 in place of perc, at all locations. Before SystemK4, employees had to transfer clothes within parts of the system. Now, the system pulls fluid from a holding tank, washes it with clothes, drops the fluid into a distillation tank, extracts the solvent and applies heat until completion, all without a single employee getting near the equipment or the chemicals.
The process is both safer for employees and more efficient at recycling the solvent. One part of the closed system is the distiller via which solvent impurities are removed after every load so that the solvent can be reused multiple times which has helped Classic Cleaners reduce 90 percent of the waste previously created by the use of perc.
Solvon K4 is comprised of a highly concentrated dry cleaning detergent, a brushing agent that removes soil, and a water- and stain-repellent that preserves pureness, making the solvent biodegradable, dermatologically safe and more eco-friendly than previous industry standards. As an added bonus, it even cleans better —“whiter, brighter, greener”— notes Arnold.
Adopting this process is testimony to Classic Cleaners’ long-held passion for being environmentally conscious and using the most environmentally safe products available. It’s proud to have received Certified Environmental Drycleaner (CED) certification from the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute; participating in the CED program is an operational part of its belief that protecting the environment is as important as producing quality cleaning.