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Sunday, 9 November 2014

Dry Cleaning

The ancient Romans used ammonia (derived from urine) and fuller's earth to launder their woolen togas.

Fullonicae (cloth laundry) were very prominent industrial facilities during Roman times, with at least one in every town of any notability, and frequently the largest employer in a district. These laundries obtained urine from farm animals, or from special pots situated at public latrines.

Fullones had a legal responsibility of the clothes they were washing. They were subject to penalties if they returned the wrong clothes or damaged them. Furthermore, clothes once washed were considered devalued.

The fullonicae industry was so profitable that fuller's guilds were an important political constituency, and the government taxed the collection of urine

When in the mid 19th century the Paris tailor Jean Baptiste Jolly accidentally upset a lamp containing turpentine and oil on his wife's favorite tablecloth, he was understandably apprehensive. However, instead of leaving a large dirty stain, the turpentine spirit having been soaked up by the cloth, made that very spot look so much cleaner. Baptiste-Jolly started experimenting with the accidentally discovered properties of the spilled spirit and developed the first dry-cleaning establishment.

Sources Europress Family Encyclopedia 1999, Wikipedia

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