Ultrasonic washing processes have been used in industrial cleaning applications for many years. It is now being used for garment cleaning. Ultrasonic cleaning uses high intensity sound waves in a fluid medium to create mechanical forces that dissolve and displace contaminants on clothing. Surfactants, detergents be used in an ultrasonically agitated aqueous solution to clean stationary garments.
Fundamentally, to get clothes clean, four factors are necessary: time, temperature, agitation and chemistry. For example in a typical washing machine, loose clothing is batched into a wash-wheel where various amounts of water and detergent (chemistry) are added for various amounts of time and at various temperatures. Simultaneously, the clothing is mechanically agitated by the machine's agitator and/or the rotation and oscillation of the machine's drum which act in concert with the resulting force and action of the water. After washing, the machine rinses and centrifugally "dewaters" or extracts: the loose clothing is then batched into a tumbler for drying. In the dry-cleaning process, solvents are substituted for the water.
Garment Care proposed that the traditional batch process be reconfigured into an in-line, continuous-flow process. More specifically, it was proposed that containerized and/or constrained clothing and linens be conveyed from start to finish - from the initial staging area through a water-based wash trough, rinse section, drying chamber and into a packaging area.
Originally Published in the Textile Review, February, 2012.