Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Heated Hydrocarbon Cleaning

Not only was the new Unipress Hurricane Double Buck Shirt Unit a hot topic at the 2015 Clean Show, heated hydrocarbon dry cleaning machines also generated a lot of buzz.  That’s because for years now, dry cleaners have been trying to find a more eco-friendly cleaning product that produces the same results as perc.  Unfortunately, few have performed at an adequate level, leaving many dry cleaners both holding off on upgrading equipment and wondering if there will ever be a magic bullet solution to the problem.

An organization in Texas conducted some testing using a hydrocarbon based cleaning solution, somewhere around 1970-1980.  Unfortunately, the testing didn’t progress too far.  We’re not sure why, but perhaps it had something to do with the machinery’s technology.  Fast forward to 2010, a long-time dry cleaning guru, recognizing that there needed to be an alternative to perc, analyzed the data from the previously mentioned testing and believed he’d found that magic bullet solution.  He also found data related to heat successfully cleaning industrial work gloves loaded with grease.  He believed that heat in conjunction with a high class petroleum based solvent was the ticket.

After hooking up with a dry cleaning friend that had a Georgia-based cleaner and specially ordering a machine, they started testing the theory.  Somewhere along the way, in addition to the heat, he determined that the proper detergent played an important role, and Wes Brunson with Fabritec International supplied that missing piece.  The results were simply amazing.  Pre-spotting, with the exception of things like ink, blood, and paint, all but disappeared.  Grease stains were removed easily.  Food spots were coming out 99% of the time without pre-spotting.  Dark loads were getting a 98% pass rate.  Many beaded and embellished garments could be cleaned with this method.  Whites were coming out brighter than if they’d been wet cleaned.  The fibers relaxed resulting in a nicer feel to the hand and fewer wrinkles on the garments, which translated into reduced finishing times.  And as an added bonus, there was no odor.  There is one catch -- these results came as long as everything is done properly -- the right programming in the right machine with the right detergent, but “the magic is in the heat”.

“The dry cleaning industry has long been looking for a viable alternative to perc,” said Kevin Lawson, Vice President of Tri-State.  “With its success in stain removal and reduction in waste, I see heated hydrocarbon as the future of the industry, possibly replacing perc permanently.”  If you are one of those operators that’s been holding off dry cleaning equipment upgrades or purchases for the arrival of the magic bullet solution, now could very well be that day.  Need help getting started?  Simply call us at 866-885-5218; we are here to help.


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