There are many factors that can influence drycleaning results, everything from wash times, to load size, solvent levels, load classification, detergent use, and the list can go on. All of these things must be correct in order to achieve a high level of soil removal in the dry cleaning process and as professional dry cleaners, this should be our goal.
In the past I have posted regarding many of these different operating parameters, but recently I had a customer of mine point out that I never really post much about the old time, low flash hydrocarbon using washer-extractors, that I only post about the newer high flash hydrocarbon and perc machines.
In the southeastern US, there are a large number of low flash hydrocarbon (LFHC) users. These washer-extractors where built to last a lifetime and they have. With their huge base tanks (up to 200 gallons and more), behemoth filtration systems (up to 42 filters), moisture controls, properly sized wheels, pumps, wash times up to 30 minutes and charge system, what is not to like about doing dry cleaning using this type of process. The simplicity of operation and quality of cleaning using this type of process is something that we will probably never see in this industry again.
In these machines, the charge system meant that detergent was maintained in a consistent percentage of the solvent. This could be anywhere from a 1% "charge" up to as high as a 4% "charge" (in those processes using a clear rinse). By maintaining and checking this charge, a dry cleaner could expect to remove a very high level of water soluble stains, they could expect no static, no lint and very consistent results, but the key to this is that you have to check your charge.
When I was running a charge system, I made it a point to check my charge twice a week. This told me if I had too much detergent or not enough. Checking your charge is not difficult to do, but yet I rarely see any dry cleaners do it anymore, which makes me wonder how do they know if they have the correct amount of detergent in their machine? Checking your charge takes 5 minutes or less. The test solutions are only a couple bucks and are very simple to use. Your soap company might even just give you a test kit to get you started and would surely go over how to check and maintain your charge properly. If your soap company cannot help you out with this, find one that will. You may find that you are using a soap that cannot be checked. It is hard to believe, but there are companies that make charge detergents that cannot be checked. What is that all about? If you have one of those charge detergents that you are unable to check, I would have to ask why not? How do you know if it is correct or not? Go figure.
While the dry cleaning industry is an old industry, it continues to evolve, sometimes for the better, sometimes not. Maybe I am feeling a bit nostalgic this morning, but the fact is, those old time dry cleaning processes could do some very good cleaning.