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System of cleaning textiles with chemical solvents instead of water. The chemicals, often halides or organohalogens (compounds that contain halogen atoms bonded to carbon atoms), dissolve dirt and grease from fabrics. Carbon tetrachloride was once widely used as a dry-cleaning liquid, but its adverse health effects have cut back its use; other organic halogen compounds are now preferred, particularly tetrachloroethylene, which is much more stable and less toxic.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on dry cleaning, visit Britannica.com.