Your delicate garments are in good hands

Have you ever had the thought, usually accompanied by a sinking feeling of foreboding, “how on Earth am I going to get this clean again ?”. Success in cleaning delicate textiles lies, above all, in taking the right decision on how to process the dirty textile. When the textile comes in, it is inspected for type of fabric and soiling. The textile cleaner then needs to decide which process is best suited: wetcleaning or drycleaning. His or her own expertise, combined with a profound knowledge of chemicals and processes from an experienced partner such as dry- and wetcleaning specialist Cole & Wilson, is the guarantee for success. During the pre-spotting phase, the textile is carefully treated to remove stains. Then, depending on the type of fabric and the origin of the soiling, it goes into either a wetcleaning or drycleaning machine.


But what is wetcleaning exactly? And how is it different from a standard wash process? Wetcleaning is a water-based cleaning process, developed specifically for delicate textiles that traditionally would have been drycleaned. However, thanks to changes in fabric types and the evolution of water-based detergents and cleaning systems, a relatively high percentage of clothing can be processed by wetcleaning. Compared with regular wash processes, a wetcleaning process is performed at lower temperatures (25-30C), with reduced mechanical action, in dedicated machines and with specific chemicals. On top of that, a lot of attention is paid to quality and each piece is treated and finished individually.
On the processing side, the biggest advantage of wetcleaning, compared with drycleaning, is:

  • It is better for the removal of water soluble stains;
  • It leaves a pleasant fragrance on the textile; and,
  • It allows bleaching.

Where traditional wetcleaning methods take a substantial amount of finishing due to wrinkling, an innovative total wetcleaning concept like Cole & Wilson’s Aquawave system makes it possible to process garments from dry to dry in less than 60 minutes after reception.

Steven Van de Walle, Cole & Wilson’s business development director explains: “Aquawave is a total concept applied in wetcleaning machines and based on a balanced cleaning process in combination with two chemical products: a detergent and a finishing agent. “Pro-Fit Wool is a carefully formulated detergent that contains the newest generation surfactants. It combines excellent cleaning performance with a gentle treatment of the delicate textiles. For example, it protects wool fibres and reduces the wearing down of silk, keeps the colours bright and brings a fresh scent to the garments. “The second product is Pro-Fit Body, a top finishing agent that restores the fabric’s aspect. Our R&D centre developed it exclusively for wet cleaning applications, with innovative raw materials. In combination with Pro-Fit Wool it reduces the finishing effort to an absolute minimum – there is less wrinkling, the ironing is easier, the shape of the fabric is restored and the build-up of static chargers is reduced.” Nowadays, most types of textile can be wetcleaned but some remain better off in drycleaning. The general rule is that the type of fabric, the shape of the clothing and the nature of the soiling will eventually determine which cleaning process to use. Certain stains are better eliminated in water where others can best be removed in solvent. So when professional textile cleaners have doubts about whether to invest in: drycleaning, wetcleaning or a combination of both, Cole & Wilson’s specialists unanimously advise to have both options available.


Drycleaning is the more traditional way of cleaning delicate textiles. The main difference to water based cleaning is that a solvent is used instead of water. The process is carried out in dedicated drycleaning machines, with specific chemicals and processes. The core element of the drycleaning process is the solvent. Cole & Wilson developed its own drycleaning solvent, HiGlo, an easy-to-use product that works in all hydrocarbon and multi-solvent machines.

HiGlo does not require specific alterations to the machines and there is no need to use extra additives, other than the cleaning enhancers or pre-brushing products. It imparts a great feel to the treated textiles and is odourless, which is also a big advantage compared to other solvents. HiGlo is the environmentally friendly alternative for Perc, verified by CTTN, an independent French public interest research institute for textile cleaning. Thanks to its great cleaning results on both hydrophilic and lipophilic soiling, it is already well implemented in numerous drycleaner shops all over Europe, and is starting to find its way into the Asian market. HiGlo comes with a range of specially formulated additives. However, Cole & Wilson also offers additives for customers who work with a different solvent.

Past, present and future

Cole & Wilson is a division of Christeyns, a major player in International laundry products and its development is very much linked to the expansion of Christeyns. Cole & Wilson allows Christeyns to offer a complete service to laundries throughout the world. Founded in Huddersfield (UK) in 1927, Cole & Wilson started as a specialised manufacturer of textile treatment chemicals to serve the textile mills in the region. The company was an absolute specialist on chemicals for the fine wool cloth that was very typical to the area. Even after the disappearance of the textile industry in Yorkshire, Cole & Wilson stayed in the after care market and continued to improve their dry cleaning chemicals, bringing them to UK market leadership in the early 1980s. When Christeyns decided to expand in the textile cleaning business, it acquired Cole & Wilson in 2014 and keeps the name for its delicate textile cleaning division. Now product names like Pro-Fit, Sultra and Sultraspot are well-known brands under the Cole & Wilson umbrella. Cole & Wilson is a division of Christeyns throughout Europe, Morocco and the USA, and is expanding its activities towards the Middle East and Asia. More and more international customers are served throughout Christeyns operational companies or by well-chosen distributors. Their operations are simple and effective – sales people acquire customer interest and a team of dedicated specialists is ready to offer technical support.

What does Cole & Wilson predict?

Steven Van de Walle comments: “We look towards a very bright future, despite the changes in clothing habits followed by changes in textile cleaning. Textiles get dirty and need to be cleaned. Whether this is done by dry- or wetcleaning, we can offer multiple solutions for both systems. With our thorough knowledge of chemicals, systems and programs engineered by and brought to the market by a team of dedicated specialists, Cole & Wilson is the perfect partner for any professional textile cleaner.”


This is an LCNI cover story, published in January 2018

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