Contrary to popular belief dry cleaning has been around for centuries. In ancient Rome, there were dry cleaning shops that used ammonia and lye to remove stains such as dirt and sweat from clothing. In the early 19th century brought a big revolution in dry cleaning by Jean Baptiste Jolly of France, also known as “the father of modern dry cleaning.” The story from 1825 is about an accidental turpentine spill on a dirty tablecloth, which was noticeably clean and stainless once the turpentine dried. Jolly then conducted an experiment in which he soaked the entire tablecloth in a bathtub filled with turpentine and found that it came clean once it dried. He used this method when he opened the often claimed first modern dry cleaning shop in Paris.
Several years before Jolly’s discovery, however, a patent had been filed with the U.S. Patent Office by Thomas Jennings, a clothier and tailor in New York. He knew the difficulty of trying to clean delicate clothing once it was stained and wouldn’t hold up to traditional washing and scrubbing. In his experimenting with a number of cleaning solutions, he discovered a process he called “dry scouring,” which was simply using a chemical solvent other than water to clean delicate fabrics.
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