Complete solvent reclamation in your dry cleaning machine depends on three factors:
1. The proper amount of airflow throughout the recovery housing and basket
2. The correct amount of time that is necessary to completely remove solvent from the load of garments
3. Maintaining the correct reclamation temperatures for the type of solvent used
In order to achieve this, the lint filters (or lint bags) must be properly maintained in order to prevent the blockage of airflow during the reclamation cycle. Blocked lint filters will cause longer reclamation cycles due to slower airflow and the subsequent inability of the steam coil to maintain proper reclamation temperatures.
In the State of New York, The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation mandates that both the lint filters and button traps be cleaned every third load in dry cleaning machines that use perchloroethylene. While this practice may seem to be severe, it will actually increase the efficiency of any dry cleaning machine, regardless of the type of solvent that is used, by increasing solvent mileage and reducing the duration of the reclamation cycle (this will reduce energy costs as well as “wear and tear” on the machine).
The proper inspection and maintenance of the lint filter will also prevent many long term issues concerning the build-up of lint and other debris (such as pins, tags, and tissues) that may pass through a worn or damaged lint filter or bag. When lint or other debris are able to pass through the lint filter (see attached photo), they will deposit and accumulate onto the recovery housing, fan housing, both the steam and evaporator coils, as well the bearing housing and front of the basket. When a severe lint buildup occurs, any loosened lint can deposit onto the load of garments. Since the accumulation of lint within the machine will retain both solvent and moisture, the cleaned garments may retain the odor of solvent from the buildup of solvent vapor in the wheel, or a foul odor from a bacterial buildup from the lint retaining moisture. To correct a severe accumulation of lint in a dry cleaning machine, a mechanic must be called in to correct the problem. Since the machine must be partially disassembled, this procedure can be extremely costly.
Since most dry cleaners clean their foam lint filters with a vacuum cleaner, this practice will erode the foam over time, causing the eventual failure of the filter. Foam lint filters can be inspected by shining a flashlight through them, or by holding them up to a light source. This will reveal any thin areas within the filter. Lint bags should be inspected for any rips, weak areas, or open seams. The inspection of the lint filters or bags should be done on a weekly basis. Since some manufacturers use a wire mesh screen in conjunction with the lint bag, the mesh should also be inspected for damage. It is advisable for the lint filters and bags be replaced on a yearly basis if you alternate two sets. If you only have one set, replace it every six months.