A Technical and Practical Study of:
Green Jet Machine and Cleaning Process
The evaluation was done at Cache Cleaners on Marco Island, Florida.
The purpose of the evaluation was many fold and included determining the garment safety of the process during use and also to determine any environmental impact, under current United States rules and regulations. Included parameters were the solvent’s ability to:
- Safely clean textile garments to acceptable standards
- Maintain garment color to an acceptable degree
- Provide a nice hand to the garments cleaned
- Not produce wrinkling in garments cleaned
- Determine total cycle time
- Determine if garments are acceptable to customers
BACKGROUND OF DRY – WETCLEANING
Several years prior to the year 2000 it was apparent to many in the industry that the regulations against the use of perc would continue to become even more stringent and the solvent would have declining use due to these regulations and continued controversy of the solvent.
An idea was formed by Bill Steiner, President of Steiner Atlantic Equipment Company that perhaps lightly soiled garments could be made wearable again with a non-immersion process rendering the garments surface cleaned, hand spotted where necessary, and returned to the customer with a nice hand, no spots, no stains, no odors and ready to wear after normal finishing or pressing.
DESCRIPTION OF THE GREEN JET MACHINE
The machine that was developed for the Wet-Drycleaning process was first designed around an existing laundry dryer. To the basic design numerous features were engineered for the process. The machine is to receive a full load of garments then dehydrate the fabric in order to dislodge surface, non-soluble soil. This soil is collected in a lint/soil chamber, similar to a button trap, along with excess lint. The next step in the cycle is to inject a pre-determined amount of water based solution through specially designed and placed spray nozzles. The solution is DWX-44, a non-toxic, non-polluting, non-flammable water based material. The process does not require any permitting, room enclosures or hazardous waste manifesting.
After the small amount of solution has been introduced to the load heavy, felt pads will dislodge and absorb water and solvent based soil until the garments are dry. At that time the unit goes into a conventional dry cycle then a cool-down cycle.
The total cycle time is 35 minutes and has a solution use of 16 ounces for 40 pounds of clothing. The solution cost for a 40 pound load is $1.60. The computer control can also be set for smaller loads with corresponding smaller amounts of solution being injected. The per pound cost is .04 cents per pound.
PRACTICAL CLEANING OF TEXTILES AND THE RESULTS
A load of garments is prepared for the machine and classified strictly according to the weight of the garments. Since it is impossible to have a dye bleed, any combination of colors or dyes can be run in the same load. Fragile garments should be bagged in order to prevent mechanical damage to the garments or trim.
After the garments are selected, they are prespotted as necessary for any type of noticeable soiling or stains. Conventional spotting chemicals are used for pre or post spotting and preferably with a cold spotting board (meaning no steam). After pre-spotting the spotting chemicals are flushed from the garment and they are dried with the air gun before putting into the cleaning cylinder.
A fan pulls fresh ambient air into the machine and is heated to a maximum temperature of 140( F. This will dry the garments while removing moisture from them. In the next cycle air is injected on and through the garments from strategically placed nozzles that will aid in dislodging non-soluble soil and allowing it to be accumulated in the lint/soil bag. During this cycle the basket is rotating and counter rotating. The nozzles are directed to spray on the side of the garments as they are dropping. When the cylinder reverses, a different set of nozzles will be spraying.
Before the DWX-44 solution is sprayed onto the garments the heating elements are turned off, the air inlet and exhaust dampers are closed in order to have a closed loop, re-circulating the airflow. When the machine has configured itself to receive the solution it is sprayed in a fine mist evenly throughout the load.
After the solution has been sprayed onto the garments the solution line is purged with air and the circulating fan is on to circulate air throughout then garments with no heat. This portion of the cycle allows the deodorizing part of the solution to eliminate odors while the felts on the bottom of the cleaning cylinder and on the ribs are absorbing moisture and solvent soil from the garments while imparting on the fabrics an additive that enhances the hand, prevents wrinkling and static, eliminates lint from adhering to the clothes, and brightens the dyes.
The next step is drying the garments and this is done by again adding heat to a maximum of 140( F. for a few minutes in order to dry any excess water based solution. After a few minutes of heat the element is turned off and the cool-down cycle begins. The entire cycle time is 35 minutes. Since the garments never get saturated with moisture, drying is simply the process of replacing and distributing the relative moisture regain of the fabric.
OBSERVATIONS AND FINDINGS OF THE PROCESS
The garments upon removal from the Green Jet machine have an excellent hand, or feel. Colors are bright and the garments are completely free from normal odors of any kind. There is no static, nor lint, on the garments after a complete cycle. Garments of any description can be placed in the unit but classification simply states that similar weight garments should be run together, as they should be in a conventional cleaning system also.
Garments do not need to be classified by color because there cannot be any dye bleeding or transfer. All beads, sequins and other fancy trim can be cleaned in the unit with the only precaution being that fragile garments or trim should be bagged prior to cleaning.
Pass-up tests were run with a wide mix of clothing and the pass-up rate coming from the machine then going on to the pressers was 92%. I have observed many perchloroethylene systems with a pass-up rate of only 82 to 85%. The pass-up rate for this process is entirely dependent upon the amount of diligence given to the pre-inspection and spotting.
The pressers I spoke with were pleased with the results of the cleaning and the complete lack of odor in the garments coming to them for finishing. They also mentioned the lack of wrinkling of the garments and no lint.
Cache Cleaners is owned by Chris Bamberg and his wife Leanne, an experienced drycleaning family, who moved to Florida and opened a plant doing approximately 60 to 65% of his total incoming poundage in the Green Jet machine and the balance of the work by wetcleaning. After inspecting his finished work I would rate it above the average for the industry. I did not see an excess of post spotting after either wetcleaning or cleaning with the Wet–Drycleaning process. Chris stated that there were a few garments a week that he would take to another cleaner for a submersion process in perchloroethylene solvent.
Another plant that is using the Wet–Drycleaning process is in Zephyerhills, Florida. The plant is owned by Dan & Karen Benoit and named Carriage Trade Dry Cleaners. It is a full service drycleaning plant with a large coin laundry incorporated into the plant layout. Dan also has been a perc cleaner for many years and said he does several loads a day in the Green Jet machine and is very pleased to have the additional cleaning capacity, and a machine that will handle fragile or bleeding garments without a fear of ruining them. The cleaning results were similar to the plant in Marco Island. Dan said that after cleaning and inspection if there are still stains or heavy soil on the garments that they will either be spotted or simply re-cleaned in his perc machine. He prefers this method rather than prespotting.
A third plant visited and included in the study was in Lake Worth, Florida, named Cricket Cleaners owned and operated by Michael and Susan Sternshine. The Green Jet machine was installed in the plant but had not been run at the time. Several days after the start-up Michael emailed me and was very enthusiastic about the results he was getting, which mirrored the other plants visited. Michael added the Wet–Drycleaning process to take poundage away from the perc unit and to process fancy garments safely.
Since there is not a comparable scientific way to determine the exact cleaning results from this new process I relied heavily upon the owners, users and finishers in the plants using the Green Jet process.
SUMMARY AND NOTES
It must be pointed out that the Wet–Drycleaning process is not a solvent based system nor are the garments immersed into any type of a liquid. It could, perhaps, be compared to an old system called “Sponge & Press” except it goes much further than that. There is soil that is actually being removed by the Green Jet machine as evidenced by the amount of soil that is in the lint/soil filters. Sponge and Press was merely as the name implies, sponging any gross amounts of soil and spreading it around so the garment could be pressed and made somewhat presentable. Cleaning from the Green Jet process has been compared with the cleaning ability of Valclene, a Freon based solvent that was is use several years ago.
It must also be pointed out that standard testing for rug soil removal cannot be used to determine the validity of this system due to the fact that it is not an immersion system and was not designed to be a deep cleaning method for textiles. Graying of garments would be excellent when compared to an immersion cleaning system, such as perc. This is a newly designed process for the cleaning of textiles and can be a good companion cleaning process when combined with a professional wetcleaning or a conventional cleaning process
With the above parameters in mind, the Green Jet process can definitely reduce poundage cleaned in an immersion system and if used in conjunction with a perchloroethylene cleaning machine can drastically reduce the hazardous waste charges, cartridge filter costs and carbon cartridge costs. It can also reduce the total cost per pound of cleaning while giving a safety margin when cleaning fragile garments or bleeders.
This appears to be an innovative process for lightly soiled garments such as would be found in valet work, aboard cruise ships, hotel’s guest cleaning, costume cleaning, drapery cleaning and a host of other specialized areas. It can also reduce the immersed poundage in a regular drycleaning plant by allowing the cleaner to separate the lightly soiled or fragile garments from the regular mix of cleaning and reduce costs by reducing hazardous waste, chemicals and supplies. It offers a safety margin when dealing with fragile garment and faulty dye garments.
This study was done at the request of Bill Steiner of Steiner-Atlantic Equipment Co., Miami, FL.
Copyright 2003 by Everett Childers