What does wet cleaning mean?

Wet cleaning is a procedure for the professional cleaning of textiles in water, preferably outerwear, without using organic solvents.

Sensitive, even non-washable textiles are cleaned in water at low liquor level with washing mechanics using intervals of short crush momentum and longer reaction times. Newly developed care products of the LANADOL series protect the fabrics against shrinkage, reduce the swelling tendency of natural fibers and increase the surface slide characteristics by agglomeration of colloids. Draining is achieved by extreme centrifugal acceleration in specifically designed wet cleaning machines.

The subsequent drying process is carried out with drum driers with optimized preservation of the textiles whose intelligent control and measurement technology dries the textiles to defined residual moisture values.

What are the differences to cleaning in solvents?

As washing machine and drier have to be operated separately, additional loading from one machine to the other is required during wet cleaning. Modern dry cleaning technology works according to the „dry to dry“ procedure: Textiles are cleaned and dried in the same machine. However, the next batch can already be cleaned while the first batch is dried. The LANADOL Sensitiv procedure therefore allows a new cleaning cycle every 20 minutes so that the operating organisation can clean 2 to 3 batches per hour.

The rate-determining step during operation is the workflow in the subsequent finishing process. The productivity of wet cleaning is therefore superior to that of traditional solvent cleaning at comparable machine capacity.
Prespotting is simple as only fat-bonded dirt, e.g. collar dirt, must be pretreated. Any stains originating from food, beverages or excreta that require attention in dry cleaning are removed during wet cleaning with far less effort. There are no problems concerning smells, greying or fading colours. On the contrary: The cleaned clothing has a fresh scent, bright colours and a pleasant grip.

Since no solvents are used, there are no problems concerning the storage of solvents, no distillation problems and no distillation residues that need to be disposed of for a fee as hazardous waste by certified disposal companies.

The institutional regulations and controls that are typical for the use of solvents do not apply. The installation of wet cleaning technology in shopping centers, inner-city areas etc. is generally uncomplicated. This is also expressed by the insurance benefits of the operations.

The additional expenditure for finishing is relatively low if the appropriate finishing equipment for wet cleaning is available and if the staff is trained accordingly. The finishing of wet cleaned textiles is different from but not more difficult than the finishing of dry cleaned textiles. Professional wet cleaning requires professional finishing equipment, e.g. trouser toppers, form finishers and modern ironing boards. A standard ironing board would make the work tiresome and the finishing result would not be satisfactory. Appropriate ironing equipment is a must in professional textile care and indispensable with regard to the ironing quality.

Which benefits and which fields of applications does wet cleaning offer for textile cleaning?

The following comparison will illustrate this; it applies to the cleaning service for private customers, not to industrial areas.

<b> Service:</b> <b> Dry cleaning</b> <b> Wet cleaning</b> <b> Laundry</b>
<b> Suits (for men and women)</b> ++ + - -
<b> Trousers, skirts</b> ++ ++ - -
<b> Dresses, blouses</b> + ++ - -
<b> Sportswear, protective clothing</b> + ++ (+)
<b> Easy care and leisure clothing</b> + ++ +
<b> Home textiles / Curtains</b> + + +
<b> Shirts</b> + ++ ++
<b> Bed and pillow service</b> - - ++ +
<b> Underwear, bed and table linen</b> - - + ++

Rating:    ++ = good; + = possible; (+) = partly possible; - - = not possible

The comparison shows the wide application range of wet cleaning for all service areas of textile cleaning. From this point of view, wet cleaning links laundry with dry cleaning. It offers market potential for cleaners in the field of private service and for laundries in the field of outerwear.

Why is wet cleaning the best way of textile care?

  • Excellent and hygienic cleaning results.
  • High safety for delicate materials and demanding ready-made textiles.
  • Even fabrics labeled W, P and hand-wash can be wet cleaned with the LANADOL process. 
  • Brilliant colours.
  • Scented freshness.
  • Pleasant handle and aggreable to the skin.
  • Broad application range of wet cleaning service for all areas of the textile cleaning.
  • High level of acceptance in the public.
  • Attracting new customers who reject the principle dry cleaning.
  • Expansion of the service range to ensure the competitiveness.

Why is wet cleaning the most environment-friendly way of textile care?

  • Wet cleaning is done with water and biodegradable detergents.
  • The LANADOL products meet the requirements for the „Blauer Engel“ (blue angel) environment award.
  • No emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) into the atmosphere.
  • No risk of air or earth pollution.
  • Better working climate in the cleaning shop, as no solvents are used.
  • No use of solvents.

Wet cleaning is therefore the most environment-friendly and health-caring way of textile care!

Why is wet cleaning especially economically?

  • Attracting new customers who reject the principle dry cleaning.
  • Low application quantities for water, energy and detergents.
  • Short batch times and thereby high use of machinery investment.
  • Lower purchase and maintenance costs make wet cleaning particularly economical.

Is there an international care symbol for wet cleaning?

For the legal protection of textile manufacturers, textile retailers and textile cleaners, Dr. Krüssmann (WFK Krefeld) initiated in 1994 a working group for the integration of wet cleaning into the international care labelling. In 1995, this working group was incorporated into the European Wet Cleaning Commitee (EWCC) that specified the test criteria for the care symbol „W“ under the coordination of the Dutch institute TNO in cooperation with the textile research institutes CTTN (France), FCRA (Great Britain), IFP (Sweden), the Hohensteiner Institutes (Germany) and the laundry research institute WFK in Krefeld (Germany) with the assistance of experts from the dry cleaning and mechanical engineering industry.

From this, the EC-supported project Aquacarb was developed in 1998 with the object of establishing CEN standards that specify the testing conditions for the care symbol „W“ and their differentiation to existing international textile care symbols.

Since textile production and textile trade are a global business, test procedures were required that can be used all over the world, ensure reproducible results and can be applied in practice at the manufacturers’ premises. For international standardization, limit values for the care label „W“ were specified that can be achieved in wet cleaning procedures using reduced washing mechanics as compared to domestic laundry and a simple, neutral, globally available non-ionic surfactant. Even though this is far below the standard set by Kreussler and Miele, it still is an important step in the right direction. The care symbol „W“ has established universally mandatory test criteria that ensure safe wet cleaning and drying.

After the international introduction of the textile care symbol „W“, wet cleaning is a textile cleaning procedure that allows all textiles that are washable as specified by their care labelling and textiles with the care symbol „W“ to be washed reliably. However not all characteristics for fibre protection of the original Miele System Kreussler have been considered. The following photograph illustrates the practical consequences.

The photograph shows three IWS test tissues.

Left: Dry cleaned in hydrocarbon solvent
Center: Miele System Kreussler in the LANADOL Sensitiv procedure
Right: Wet cleaning according to care symbol „W"

While no distinct difference can be observed between the dry cleaned tissue and the tissue cleaned with LANADOL, the higher shrinkage of the tissue treated according to „W“ is obvious.   

In other words, wet cleaning using the LANADOL procedure goes beyond the specifications of the textile care symbol „W“ and therefore enhances the procedural safety of the wet cleaning process!

Is there an ecolabel for wet cleaning?

Yes, the service of wet cleaning has been awarded the ecolabel "Blue Angel – wet cleaned " in accordance with RAL UZ 104!

The RAL ecolabel „Blue Angel – wet cleaned“ aims at familiarizing those interested in the advantages of commercial textile care over domestic care and particularly with the advantages of wet cleaning over the cleaning in solvent.

The slogan „protects environment and health“ was chosen to make the consumer act voluntarily in an economically and ecologically viable manner to protect man and the environment. The logical consequence of this acting that focuses on the concept of sustainability is the voluntary renouncement of the use of halogenated solvents in textile care without compromising performance. Also, the emission of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) resulting from textile care into the atmosphere is to be avoided by using wet cleaning procedures.

RAL UZ 104 „wet cleaning“ was the first ecolabel to be awarded to commercial textile cleaning. Up to then, consumers had known the „Blue Angel“ primarily from household products that were manufactured according to ecological criteria. The awarding of this label to the textile service of wet cleaning confirms the innovative character and the pioneer status that wet cleaning has in the professional textile care industry.  

We will gladly support our customers in the application for the award of the ecolabel “Blue Angel” !

What are the limits of wet cleaning?

When experts discuss wet cleaning, one of the major topics is: „How many of the textiles to be cleaned can be wet-cleaned and for how many do you still need solvent?“

There is also the more precise question: „For which articles does wet cleaning make sense and where is the economic limit with regard to both costs and the risks during the treatment?“

Both questions do not get to the bottom of the matter which is actually: „Does wet cleaning offer a better chance for the future of professional textile cleaning than dry cleaning?“

After 20 years of experience with wet cleaning, essential elements of this crucial questions have been answered clearly:

  • Professional textile cleaning using the solvent „water“ is neither detrimental to health nor harmful to the environment.
  • The acceptance of customers and employees in cleaning companies is perfect.
  • Cleaning effect, stain removal and textile hygiene are excellent.
  • The portfolio of services is very extensive: from shirt service, special services for sportswear, wedding-dresses and bedclothes to jeans, blouses, dresses and suits.
  • Installation costs and operating costs as well as the operation risks are considerably lower than with the use of solvent.

However, there are also some issues that need further consideration:

  • The assessment of treatment risks for care labelling (P) or (F).
  • The required qualification of employees to ensure that the customers' clothing is not damaged if errors occur.
  • The required finishing equipment and finishing methods.
  • Cost gathering, pricing and active marketing.

The positive and ecological image of the ecolabel RAL UZ 104 „Blue Angel – Wet cleaning“ has also helped this innovative cleaning technology internationally since its market introduction. Kreussler as the inventor of wet cleaning with LANADOL have benefitted from this image, but the technical standard of the LANADOL products and procedure goes far beyond the criteria of the “Blue Angel”.

Today, LANADOL defines the state of the art in wet cleaning!

Is wet cleaning future-oriented?

Even sceptics of wet cleaning admit that the treatment of easy-care clothing, sportswear, trousers, skirts, dresses, raincoats and all garments that can be proofed is far easier with wet cleaning than with solvents. Jackets and suits are an exception as the risk and the finishing expenditure are higher.

If, however, wet cleaning offers obvious advantages with regard to installation, operational safety, treatment costs, service spectrum, cleaning quality, customer acceptance and for almost any cleaningware with the exception of mens' clothing, why should one not focus on solving this problem step by step?

The multitude of laundries and textile cleaners worldwide who wet clean such difficult clothing every day illustrates how far this has already been solved. It is learnable! The success of these companies in everyday competition shows that this is the right way. In many countries, the investment in wet cleaning is even promoted both financially and by less stringent official requirements! 

The majority of the textile care companies offer wet cleaning and dry cleaning with the proportion of wet cleaned articles increasing every year.

For an exposed location as typically found in shopping malls with adjacent food stores or in countries with tougher environmental legislation, a growing number of textile cleaners is deciding to offer wet cleaning exclusively.

In commercial laundries as well the trend is going towards wet cleaning sensitive corporate fashion items that are often offered in textile leasing for banks, insurances or offices.

A traditional domain for wet cleaning are operations such as retirement and nursing homes with their own in-house cleaning technology as well as fire services with their sensitive protective clothing.

Yes, wet cleaning is and continues to be future-oriented because wet cleaning has proved to be successful on the international market and the LANADOL range of products even goes beyond the specifications of the textile care label "W" and therefore increases the procedural safety of the wet cleaning process!