Professional wet cleaning consists of the following key elements: computer-controlled washers and dryers, specialized detergents and solvents, trained and skilled personnel, and specialized finishing equipment for garment pressing.
Computerized wet cleaning machines allow for precise measurements and mechanical control, which may be programmed with various settings that are specific to each fabric's needs. Some of these settings include adjusting water and drying temperatures, controlling moisture levels in dryers, and changing water and detergent volumes. Mechanical agitation, commonly known as revolutions in a cleaning cycle can also be altered.
Other features may also be used in addition to the regular wet cleaning process such as specialized fabric softeners, dye setting agents that reduce bleeding, milder bleaching agents for removal of stains, and fabric finishes that restore the fabric's original touch.(http://www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/garment/wsgc/wetclean.htm)
While both laundering and hand washing are also water-based and require detergents, they are not the same as wet cleaning. Laundering uses standard washers and dryers to clean certain non-delicate garments. The settings on these machines are preset, with only the amount of detergent being roughly controlled. Hand washing on the other hand, is limited to delicate garments and cannot be performed in volumes as it is labor-intensive.
In comparison, wet cleaning is a high volume process that uses milder detergents than traditional home laundry products. Water and solvent levels are precisely measured and tailored to fit each garment's specific needs.
Wet cleaning is significantly different from dry cleaning in that it does not use hazardous chemicals nor does it produce harmful waste. Tetrachloroethylene, commonly referred to as Perc or dry cleaning fluid is the key ingredient that is used when dry cleaning garments. This chemical is carcinogenic to humans, and is known to produce soil contamination and air pollution. Waste produced by dry cleaning must be properly discarded as it can pose a health risk to human and animal life.
Contrastingly, wet cleaning uses only water and organic biodegradable solvents. It is 100% eco-friendly as it does not use any harsh chemicals. Garments are more likely to be allergen free and cause minimal skin irritation. Studies have shown wet cleaning to clean fabrics just as well, if not better than dry cleaning. In addition, many fabrics that are labeled 'Dry Clean Only' can be wet cleaned without difficulty. Fluids produced from the process of wet cleaning are disposed of into the public sewer system, and are easily treated at the local water waste treatment facility.