Wet cleaning is a non-toxic, environmentally safe alternative to dry cleaning, utilizing
computer-controlled washing machines, biodegradable soaps and conditioners, and various
types of pressing equipment that may be specialized for many different fabric and
Modern wet-cleaning technology was developed by Miele in 1991. In Italy among the
first companies that occupy in the wet cleaning there is Lavastir An earlier form
of wet cleaning was offered by Savile Row bespoke tailors: a suit would be carefully
measured, linings and interfacings would be removed, and the garments would be carefully
hand washed in cold water and mild detergent, rinsed in cold water, and blocked to
its original shape and air-dried; then the linings and interfacings would be put
back in.
The traditional way of cleaning a kimono is similar: The garment is held together
by coarse basting stitches, as are used by a tailor in the early stages of constructing
a suit. To clean the kimono, the stitches are ripped out, then the fabric is washed
in cold water and mild soap or detergent, rinsed in cold water, then stretched and
air-dried. It is then stitched back together with the same coarse stitches as before.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Wet Cleaning is the safest
professional method of dry cleaning. It does not use hazardous chemical, it does
not generate hazardous waste, nor create air pollution and reduced potential for
water and soil contamination.” It uses the universal solvent—water—along with special
computer-controlled machines such as the ones designed by Miele. The specialized
detergents and conditioner used in the Wet Clean process are milder than home laundry
products. All the Products are disposed of down the drain and easily handled by the
local waste treatment
For professional cleaners, wet-cleaning offers several advantages, such as lowered
costs for start-up capital, supplies, equipment and hazardous waste disposal, as
well as less reliance on skilled labor. Dry-cleaners are beleaguered by the spiraling
costs of energy, labor, insurance, etc.
Professional wet cleaning is an environmentally preferred alternative to Perchloroethylene
(or "PERC"); however the chemicals used by many wet cleaners to pre-treat clothing
have been found to be equally toxic as PERC. According to a report released March
2007 , the spotting agents used even by so-called “green” dry cleaners account for
close to 40,000 gallons, or 242 tons, of trichloroethylene (TCE) and about 150 gallons,
or 1 ton, of PERC being used annually in the state of California. PERC and TCE are
carcinogens and both are listed on Proposition 65; wastes even from professional
wet cleaners using these chemicals are classified as hazardous.
Tailors have generally recommended that garments be returned to them once a year
for wet cleaning and dry-cleaned in between. These tailors are also
careful to choose materials that will not be destroyed by water, even if they later
sew in the usual "Dry Clean Only" label. Some clothing manufacturers
may mislabel their clothing "Dry Clean Only", even though there is no "reasonable
basis" for making the claim that the garment will be harmed if it is not dry cleaned.
A few fabrics—notably rayon and acetate—are invariably labeled "dry clean only" but
may not be safe to wet clean. They are definitely not safe to wash. Some such garments
are intended to be worn only once.