Solvent Team: Robert, Jim & Mark

The dry cleaner's dirty secret: Dirty solvent

Posted:Thu Apr 15, 2021
Posted By:Kayte Spillman

The dry cleaning industry has a dirty little secret.

Many dry cleaners actually use dirty solvent to clean your clothes, but Yale Cleaners is clearly different. But before we get into the details, you may be asking yourself – what is dry cleaning solvent?

Dry cleaning really is a simple process that most people don’t understand.  In short, we clean your clothes in a liquid other than water.  So, water equals “wet” and other solvents equal  “dry”.  The three main dry cleaning solvents used today are perchloroethylene, hydrocarbon, and liquid silicon.  More on that topic in a future blog.

Now imagine replacing the water in your washing machine at home, with one of the “dry” solvents from above, in the most basic terms, that’s dry cleaning.   One very notable difference is, we actually reuse our solvent on every load.  And without proper maintenance, the solvent gets, well…dirty.

“This is the dirty little secret of dry cleaners: So many dry cleaners use dirty solvent when cleaning your clothes,” said John Rothrock, Yale Cleaners President and CEO.

That’s because it takes work, staff and constant maintenance to ensure dry cleaning solvent – the stuff that actually cleans your clothes along with the soap – is always clean, odor free and will sterilize your clothes.

“Many dry cleaners do not take the time, manpower or expense it takes to properly care for their solvent to ensure it’s clean,” Rothrock said. In fact, taking care to always use the cleanest, purest solvent is what sets Yale Cleaners apart from the competition.

How it’s done

Yale Cleaners has a team of professionals whose job it is to maintain the quality of the hydrocarbon solvent used throughout the 11 Yale locations. This environmentally conscious solvent is constantly evaluated to make sure it is meeting cleanliness standards set by Yale Cleaners.

“Our team of professionals work daily checking, maintaining and improving the cleanliness of our solvent at all our locations,” Rothrock said. “This is one of the ways we are truly set apart from other dry cleaners. We put the integrity of our solvent as a top priority every day. And you can see the difference in the clothes.”

The dedicated team replaces filters every month, adds fresh solvent and soap, then tests to ensure the system is running at peek performance. “


Just like air filters in your home or car, these filters remove the impurities in the solvent,” Rothrock said.“ And just like your car and home, they need to be replaced regularly.”

The solvent team also regularly puts the solvent through a distillation process where the solvent is boiled until it turns to a gas and then cooled until it is a liquid again. This further separates the impurities from the solvent to maintain the purity of the product.

“You have to do both of these processes to maintain the integrity of the solvent,” Rothrock said. “And, in doing so, we can recycle over 99% of our solvent, meaning our solvent is even more environmentally friendly.”

The extra processes add a lot of work and expense to the back end of dry cleaning, but Rothrock said the end product is a much higher quality of dry cleaning compared to competitors, and Yale’s customers deserve nothing less. “

Yale Cleaners’ customers know there is something different about our cleaning process,” he said. “They may not know all that we do to keep our products at such a high standard, but they can see, feel, and smell the difference in their cleaned clothes.”

That’s just another example of the White Hat difference.

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