Monday, May 21, 2012

Edwardian Adventures In Dry Cleaning

Vintage Ad Browser
Yes indeed, I had no idea that dry-cleaning was around in the 1910s. And that people had home-dry-cleaning preparations that they used with gasoline. What is up with that? And must one dress up like Marie Antoinette to use it? That could make things extra risky (all those frills and panniers and fans getting in the way, etc.).

Putnam Dry-Cleaner was a "soap-like preparation that works in gasoline." According to other ads, you put some gasoline in a pan with the stuff and did a little "dipping and rinsing."

And yes indeed, dry cleaning with gasoline was discovered by chance, in the 1880s, by a French dye-maker called Jean Baptiste Jolly. His maid spilled kerosene on a tablecloth and Jolly noticed that after that, it looked cleaner.

This sort of dry cleaning was, of course, very dangerous. It wasn't until after the First World War that less flammable dry cleaning agents were developed. I am going to direct you to Wikipedia if you are entranced with dry cleaning history and want more details. I'm just glad that we don't dip our finest things in gasoline - in the kitchen, probably! -  any more.

And that was good news for Marie Antoinette.

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