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Posts Tagged ‘early dry-cleaning’

In the mid-19th century, at a time when home stain-cleaning was the norm and dyeing of clothes a scary thought, Parisians had a remarkable alternative:

An art which has been recently brought to an astonishing degree of perfection in Paris, is that of dyeing, cleaning, scouring, and restoring almost all descriptions of habiliments; this has been effected by M. Bonneau, but not until he had visited the principal manufacturing towns, and had passed many years in studying the art scientifically, aided by persevering researches into the depths of chymistry, to which he is indebted for being able to perform that which has not until now been accomplished. I have seen instances of a soiled, faded, cashmere shawl, almost considered beyond redemption, committed to his charge, and reappear so resuscitated that the owners could scarcely believe it was the same dingy, deplorable-looking affair they had sent a fortnight before. The same power of restoring is effected upon all descriptions of satin, even that of the purest white, which, although so soiled as to be of a dirty yellow colour, is brought forth perfectly clean and with all its original lustre; with silks, merinos, gros de Naples of the tenderest tints, the process adopted is equally successful; blonde, guipure, and all descriptions of lace, no matter how discoloured, are restored to their original whiteness. With the apparel of men, the same advantages are obtained, silk, cashmere, velvet, and other waistcoats that many would throw aside as totally spoiled, or too shabby to be worn any longer, by being sent to M. Bonneau, are returned, having the appearance of being quite new. His establishment, at No. 17, Rue Lepelletier, just facing the French Opera, is well known to many English families; but having heard so much of the wonders he performed in reviving the lost colours of the elaborate borders of ladies’ cashmeres, and rendering them their pristine brilliance, I determined to visit his premises, upon which he carried on his operations, in the Rue de Bondy, No. 40. I there found everything conducted upon a most methodical system of regularity and order each room was appropriated to its peculiar department, and heated and ventilated by a certain process, and that which does M. Bonneau much honour, is, that all is so arranged, with the utmost consideration for the health of his work-people, by taking care that they shall be kept as dry as possible, and that a proper degree of warmth and air shall be admitted into every chamber. When required, M. Bonneau sends his men to clean furniture at persons’ houses, which would be rather incommodious to remove. When any article is sent to him, the bearer is informed what day it will be completed, and is sure not to be deceived, and he has an apartment so arranged for preserving whatever is confided to him, from any injury which might be caused by moths or other insects.

From How to Enjoy Paris in 1848 by F. Herve

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