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The dry cleaner.

The dry cleaner.

Modern dry cleaning's use of non-water-based solvents to remove soil and stains from clothes was reported as early as 1855. The potential for petroleum-based solvents was recognized by French dye-works operator Jean Baptiste Jolly, who offered a new service that became known as nettoyage à sec—i.e., dry cleaning. Flammability concerns led William Joseph Stoddard, a dry cleaner from Atlanta, to develop Stoddard solvent (white spirit) as a slightly less flammable alternative to gasoline-based solvents. The use of highly flammable petroleum solvents caused many fires and explosions, resulting in government regulation of dry cleaners. After World War I, dry cleaners began using chlorinated solvents. These solvents were much less flammable than petroleum solvents and had improved cleaning power.

On March 3, 1821, Thomas L. Jennings became the first African-American to be granted a United States patent. The patent was for his invention of a cleaning process called "dry scouring," which was the precursor to dry cleaning.


By the mid-1930s, the dry cleaning industry had adopted tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene), or PCE for short, as the solvent. It has excellent cleaning power and is nonflammable and compatible with most garments. Because it is stable, tetrachloroethylene is readily recycled.


Through the window candid shot.
Moody and magnificent.

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Photo prise @ Schwarzen le 13 septembre 2017 (© Neil. Moralee / Flickr)

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