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Dry Cleaning and Laundry Workers


In the 19th century, machines were invented to agitate and wring out clothes, followed by automatic washing and drying machines. As the number of hospitals, schools, factories, and other businesses increased, the need to have textile items continually cleaned also increased. Institutional laundries sprang up to fulfill these institutions' needs for fresh sheets, towels, uniforms, and other articles.

Also in the late 19th century, the first synthetic fabric, nitrocellulose rayon, was invented. Eventually hundreds of different synthetic fabrics were invented. These new fabrics called for additional cleaning techniques. Items that would lose their shape or color in water needed to be cleaned with chemical solvents. Even some natural fibers were found to last longer and retain their appearance better when cleaned with chemicals. Dry cleaning stores, employing specially trained workers, were thus established. As needs and lifestyles changed, the dry cleaning and laundering industries have had to adapt their services to meet the consumers' demands. In addition, there is an ongoing need to develop, test, and introduce new cleaning chemicals and processes (including eco-friendly cleaning practices), as well as to invent more efficient machinery.