The two most important things to consider
when items are classified for dry cleaning are (1)
color and (2) lint quality of the material. In
general, virtually all fibers or fabrics can be safely
dry cleaned provided they are resistant to the dry-
cleaning solvent, frictional activity involved in the
dry-cleaning machine, and the stress of steam
pressing and finishing. Standard military uniforms
can be successfully dry cleaned aboard ship with
virtually no problems as long as the equipment
is used properly and the correct solvent is used.
The solvent used should be tetrachloroethylene
(perchlorethylene), NSN 6810-00-270-9982 and
NSN 6810-00-819-1128. Always remember to
classify similar items together for washing
purposes. If your dry-cleaning plant is washing
civilian clothes, it would be a good dry-cleaning
practice to first determine the type of fiber or
fabric to be cleaned and then carefully check the
permanent care label for manufacturers recom-
mendations or instructions for cleaning. On
occasions you may also dry clean Marine
uniforms. Sort them together but dry clean them
Classify table covers, drapes, flags, and so on,
according to color, material, and lint quality. (Put
ties into separate bags and clean them with the
Foul weather jackets, face masks, winter
helmets, and winter trousers may be cleaned
Although they have many different colors,
signal flags may be cleaned in the same group.
Transfer of lint among flags is not detrimental
to their use.
Do NOT dry clean impregnated, rubberized,
or oiled articles, or articles manufactured wholly
or in part from leather. Dry-cleaning solvents
damage such materials beyond repair or use.
When articles are classified, divide them into
equal units for loading into the dry-cleaning
machine. The weight units should be based on the
manufacturers recommendations for machine
A record of pounds cleaned and the number
of loads cleaned daily is kept to determine the
numbers of pounds cleaned per gallon of solvent
and the cost per pound cleaned. The use of 1
gallon of dry-cleaning solvent to clean 200 pounds
of clothes is considered good usage.
All articles should be examined for spots
before they are cleaned. Analyze all spots to
determine what substance caused them and what
methods should be used to remove them.
Sometimes treating the spot may not remove it
entirely but usually it will come out completely
during the cleaning process.
Note that the flow chart (fig. 6-1) shows both
prespotting and postspotting steps. The latter step
is necessary in case a spot was missed earlier. If,
however, it is necessary to postspot an article, it
must go back to be cleaned again to remove the
chemical used in spotting. Spotting is discussed
in detail later in this chapter.
The dry-cleaning process centers around the
dry-cleaning solvent which distinguishes dry
cleaning from simple wet cleaning or laundering.
The removal of stains and soils is dependent upon
volubility, age and extent of soil, size of wash
load, type of fabric, the amount of water and
detergent in solution, and the level and
temperature of the solvent.
Only the synthetic solvents discussed in this
chapter are authorized on board Navy ships for
use in dry-cleaning plants. Tetrachloroethylene/
perchloroethylene are the most commonly used
solvents and the brands are available through
supply. The solvents already contain detergent
which eliminates adding it to the inventory of
Check the amounts of solvent in the storage
tank from time to time and make sure that it is
refilled as necessary. This prevents the solvent
from getting too low for operation. If it is
necessary, remind the sales office when the
quantity of solvent is reaching a low level so they
can order a new supply.
SAFE HANDLING AND USE OF
Although dry-cleaning solvent has been used
safely for many years, it is a toxic substance. It
must, like other chlorinated solvents, be regarded
as a potentially hazardous material, which, if
misused or improperly handled, can cause serious
injury or even death. It is essential, therefore, that
perchloroethylene be handled only by knowledge-
able and experienced individuals who are familiar