DOWPER™ Solvent Advertorial: A Steadfast Solution for Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaners have many solvent choices available to them, all having various chemistries (yes, all dry cleaning solvents are chemicals, whether regulated or not), and yet Perchloroethylene (“PER”) is still the most widely used dry cleaning solvent in the world. Olin is the world’s largest perchloroethylene producer, after having purchased The Dow Chemical Company’s Global Chlorinated Organics business in 2015.

DOWPER™ Solvent, as manufactured by Olin’s Chlorinated Organics business for more than 70 years, is a high purity grade of perchloroethylene, specially stabilized for use in dry cleaning.  Since its initial use as a dry cleaning solvent, perchloroethylene has remained the industry solution to dry cleaners’ challenges.

  • PER is not flammable, nor combustible, in virtually any vapor or liquid concentration; and has no flammability limits.
  • PER has excellent solvency and readily dissolves virtually all organic stains, such as oils, greases, fats and waxes. This proven cleaning performance is still unmatched by any alternative solvents.
  • PER penetrates fibers to dissolve solvent-soluble soils rapidly, because of its low viscosity and low surface tension.
  • PER evaporates quickly in moderate heat. Combined with its rapid cleaning capability, this enables a shorter machine cycle time.
  • PER has low water solubility and can be easily separated for repeated recycling and reuse in a dry cleaning machine.
  • PER is noncorrosive in dry cleaning machines when proper procedures are followed.


While DOWPER™ Solvent continues to provide these same performance advantages, perchloroethylene dry cleaning machine technology has greatly improved over the past decades.  PER has been well-studied and its risks have been assessed under the European legislation on the safe and environmental use of chemicals (REACH).  Today worker exposure is much better controlled due to modern cleaning machine technology, which captures and recycles solvent emissions.  These efficient machines also greatly reduce the amount of PER needed for cleaning – less than 10g of solvent per kg of garments.  Repeated recycling of the solvent means less solvent use and less waste generated.

Best Practices

Modern cleaning machines cannot completely protect workers from exposure to dry cleaning solvents.  Workers must follow best practices for safe handling of chemicals.  Alternative solvents (silicones, hydrocarbons, glycol ethers, and/or blends of these materials) may not have been as extensively studied as PER and should also be handled responsibly.  This includes the use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when handling the solvent and waste, and when doing machine maintenance.  The proper chemical-resistant gloves, safety glasses and/or goggles, and the proper respirator are recommended if users expect to be exposed to the product above its recommended exposure limits.  Consult the Safety Data Sheet for your dry cleaning solvent for additional guidance or contact your solvent supplier.


Using modern dry cleaning equipment and following best practices can effectively mitigate many of the risks of PER during standard operations and help to maintain a successful business and safe working environment.  Some examples of best practices are given below.

  • Comply with all regulations governing the storage, use, and handling of PER for dry cleaning, including waste handling. Obtain and maintain all required licenses/permits and documentation for your cleaning plant.
  • Keep a clean/safe work environment. Provide appropriate training and PPE for employees, based on their tasks.  Ensure adequate workplace ventilation.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for dry cleaning machine inspections and maintenance. Replace worn parts as recommended.
  • Consider sealing the floor drains and concrete floors as added protection against leaks and spills (PER can migrate through concrete if not sealed with an impervious coating).
  • Label hazardous waste appropriately. Use secondary containment for solvent and waste.  Keep waste containers sealed when not in use.  Use a licensed hazardous waste carrier for disposal.

Legal Requirements

Contrary to what its critics state, PER has few restrictions for use in dry cleaning around the world.  Efficient machines and appropriate best practices have been developed over the years to mitigate the known risks of PER.  Through Olin’s worldwide distributor network, DOWPER™ Solvent continues to be used successfully by dry cleaners committed to the safe use of perchloroethylene.  For more information on the use of PER for dry cleaning in Europe, please refer to the European Chlorinated Solvents Association at or contact your Olin representative.

DOWPER TM is a trademark of The Dow Chemical Company