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Dry cleaning: through the ages

A man had to solve the problem of keeping his clothes clean and beautiful probably on the very first day he started to close his naked body with animal skins. Primitive people hardly cared about stains on their loincloths, but warm and comfortable clothes without tears and holes were an essential condition for them to survive in the severe climate of the time.

Laundress as a profession is probably not as old as a tailor, nevertheless it is already several hundred if not thousand years old. Until a certain time people knew no secrets of stain removing and all they could do to keep their garment in a proper condition was to simply clean them using any means available.

Rapidly improving living conditions and the weather on the European continent, that could hardly be called favourable, caused the first laundries to appear at this particular area.

According to the strict etiquette rules one should have had different garments for different events, so a lady of quality often needed help of numerous servants to maintain her wardrobe in a proper condition. You can find a detailed and colorful description of one of the French laundries in a novel “Trap” a French classic by Émil Zola. Zherveza, the lead character cleans laundry for a living. It took her some time to rent her own premises for work and originally she has to work alongside hundreds of Paris’ laundresses. They could not avoid high humidity, constant contact with water and hard work. A laundress was responsible not only for the cleaning itself but also for sewing buttons, ironing and minor repairs if necessary.

According to written sources, dry cleaning was well known in the Ancient Rome.

The Romans were who invented the well-known “grandmother’s way” – to spread salt over the stain immediately to absorb the source of dirt. But as for dry cleaning Europeans were the first.

The owner of a dye-house Jean Baptist Jolly accidently overturned a bottle of turpentine on a tablecloth with grease stains on it and after a while they disappeared.  Thanks to it, a lucky Frenchman found a real gold mine and the dry cleaner he soon opened in Paris earned him wide popularity and high income.

However, it has not been without pitfalls – flammable materials used for fabric cleaning would easily combust and often caused fires. Trying to solve this problem, William Josef Stoppard, a dry cleaning specialist from Atlanta, invented the so called Stoppard solvent better known as white spirit. It was much less flammable but in case of prolonged contact negatively influenced the health of the workers.

The invention of Tetrachloroethylene became a real dry cleaning revolution – it is almost nonflammable and removes the most stubborn stains without causing damage to clothes. And though it can be rightfully called a real stain panacea you cannot merely put your garments into the machine drum, add solvent and leave in a hope to get them clean in some time.

An experienced and qualified operator plays hardy more important role than the chemicals used do. The garments to be cleaned are carefully examined and sort out. Buttons, clasps and hooks are ripped or covered with special protective cover. The most capricious garments may be packed in special perforated bags. Stains of different origin must be treated with tetrachloroethylene within a different periods of time. In a word, there a lot of nuances critical for your garments safety.

Today European dry cleaners are still considered the world quality standard. We take into account not only long-term experience of our western colleagues but also some specific features of the Russian climate and weather. Continuously improving professional skills of our employees we are closely following the recent trends in dry cleaning. With us, you can be sure we will do our best to achieve the best result in cleaning your garments.

In our Contrast dry-cleaner you can order a delivery service. We will collect and return your garments at the appointed time and place.

Call us every day on +7(499)350-88-05 (multi-lines) from 8:00 to 21:00

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