Professional garment care has been around since the Roman Empire. Cleaners were called “Fullers” back then, they used lye and ammonia as well as a type of clay called “Fuller’s earth” to absorb soils and greases from clothing too delicate for laundering.
The first published reference to the use of spirits or turpentine for removing atr and varnish was in 1690. It wasn’t until 1716 that turpentine (a distillation of pine pitch) began to be used as a “dry cleaner” to supplement the wet cleaning processes. Throughout the ages, tuperntine has had several names: oil of turpentine, spirits of turperntine, camphene, and “turps.”
Even before organic solvent was used to clean garments by immersion, a cleaner of clothes was known as a “Degraisseur.” The French name for a cleaner was “Teinturuer-degraisseur (a dyer-degreaser).
In the early 1900’s, drycleaners began using spirits of turpentine, called “camphene,” as a drycleaning solvent. The firm, Jolly-Belin in Paris, France, is credited with spearheading the firstr successful use of spirits of turpentine as a commercial drycleaning solvent. This discovery quickly spread to other countries on the continent and later to Britain.
The first use of a drycleaning soap was in Germany. In 1928, Stoddard solvent, which had a higher flash point than other solvbents currently being used was introduce. In 1932, chlorinated hydrocarbonds-nonflammable synthetic solvents-were introduced in the United States.