What are hydrocarbon dry cleaning solvents?
The hydrocarbon solvents that fell out of favor in the 1940’s were derived from petroleum or gasoline feedstocks. The flash points of the early hydrocarbons were very low, meaning that the solvents did not have to be heated much before explosive vapors would form. Early hydrocarbons contained aromatics like benzene and toluene that we now know are hazardous to humans.
Today’s hydrocarbon dry cleaning solvents are a far cry from the ones used all those years ago. They are synthetically manufactured products, which means that their high purity can be guaranteed. Their physical properties can also be carefully controlled, so they can be sold under tight specifications. They have a much higher flash point than those of the 1940’s, which translates into increased safety since the chances that the solvent will form explosive vapors are minimized. Combined with the safety systems engineered into the dry cleaning machine, today’s hydrocarbons are a safe choice as a dry cleaning solvent.
Are hydrocarbon solvents safe for the environment?
The hydrocarbon solvents used today, with their high purity, are completely safe for the environment, as well as for laundry service employees and customers. Bacteria in the soil will naturally degrade the hydrocarbons, and exposure tests in aquatic systems show no fish kills when hydrocarbon solvents are introduced.
The same hydrocarbons that are sold today for use in dry cleaning are also sold in the personal care market. They are used in makeup, hand cleaners, lotions, and dozens of other cosmetic products. In addition, they are approved for use in direct food contact applications, such as beet sugar manufacturing and vegetable cleaning.
Why choose a laundry service that uses hydrocarbons?
As stated above, hydrocarbon solvents have a clear advantage over perchlorethylenes when it comes to being safe for the environment, as well as for your personal health and the health of your family. By choosing a dry cleaner that uses hydrocarbon solvents, you are helping to reduce environmental pollution and are providing your family with clothes that are cleaned with a process that you can be certain will cause no health problems. In addition, your clothes do not suffer the damage wet cleaning can cause and will have a fresh clean scent rather than the unpleasant chemical smell of clothing cleaned with PERC.