Textile Cleaning Solvents

Textile Cleaning Solvents for the Industry

There has been a growing interest in solvents available to the industry due to environmental regulations and some states either banning the use of perchloroethylene or threatening to ban it as a solvent.  This has been going on for several years with California giving a time table for machines of a certain age and the final cut-off date for which it may be used for cleaning textiles.

Today’s dilemma has been compounded with some of the industry leadership fighting to keep perchloroethylene.  This Quixote exercise also had an input from the solvent manufacturers and distributors who wanted to sell as much product as they could while not having the severe restrictions that the individual cleaners have had.

As a result change to an environmentally acceptable solvent by the public has resulted in several innovative approaches to an acceptable solvent for the industry.  A silicone solvent, GreenEarth®, made an appearance in the mid 1990’s.  Shortly after that Exxon developed a high flashpoint hydrocarbon solvent that satisfied the current fire laws for flash point.  ChevronPhillips soon came out with an identical product for drycleaners named EcoSolv®.  Soon came a unique approach using liquid carbon dioxide.  A now defunct company named Micell began promoting their new machine and process by taking a stand about how polluting perchloroethylene was.  It came from the University of North Carolina by a group of professors there.  At about the same time a glycol ether blend was brought forth with the name of Rynex.  There is currently another new product named DrySolv that is offered for sale to the industry.

The following links will attempt to accurately describe the development and introduction of the different solvents.

It must be recognized that any solvent does little cleaning and all depend on detergents, soaps or other additives in order to penetrate the fibers, lubricate the soils so they can be put into suspension then removed through either filtration, distillation, adsorptive bentonite clay or distillation.  There are many other factors involved in professional textile cleaning such as solvent temperatures, machine loading, wash times, solvent flow, extract speeds and drying temperatures.