GeneralPerchloroethylene: Properties, Uses, and Safety Considerations

May 23, 2023by alpha0


Perchloroethylene, also known as tetrachloroethylene or “perc,” is a colorless liquid with a strong, sweet odor. It is a chlorinated solvent widely used in various industries and applications.

One of the primary uses of Perchloroethylene is as a dry-cleaning solvent. Its excellent solvent properties make it effective in removing dirt, grease, and stains from fabrics without causing damage. Dry-cleaning facilities commonly use Perchloroethylene in their processes to clean delicate or sensitive materials.

Perchloroethylene Properties:

Perchloroethylene, also known as tetrachloroethylene or PCE, is a colorless liquid with a strong, sweet odor. It is a nonflammable chemical that does not readily dissolve in water but is highly soluble in organic solvents. Perchloroethylene exhibits a relatively high boiling point, low viscosity, and excellent stability under normal conditions. It is commonly produced through the chlorination of ethylene.


  • Dry Cleaning: Perchloroethylene is most well-known for its use in the dry cleaning industry. Its ability to dissolve and remove grease, oils, and stains from fabrics makes it an effective solvent in dry cleaning machines. The low boiling point of perchloroethylene allows for its easy recovery and recycling within the dry cleaning process.
  • Metal Degreasing: Perchloroethylene is widely utilized as a degreasing agent in metalworking and industrial applications. It effectively removes oils, greases, and contaminants from metal surfaces, ensuring optimal cleanliness prior to further processing, such as painting, plating, or welding.
  • Chemical Manufacturing: Perchloroethylene serves as a versatile intermediate in the production of various chemicals. It is used as a solvent in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals, dyes, adhesives, and other organic compounds. The stability and solvent power of perchloroethylene make it suitable for many chemical reactions.
  • Vapor Degreasing: Perchloroethylene’s low surface tension and high solvency power make it suitable for vapor degreasing applications. It is commonly used to clean delicate electronic components, precision instruments, and machinery parts, ensuring thorough removal of contaminants without causing damage.

Safety Considerations:

  • While perchloroethylene has widespread industrial use, it is important to handle and use this chemical with caution due to its potential health and environmental impacts. Here are some key safety considerations:
  • Health Hazards: Perchloroethylene exposure can cause adverse health effects. Prolonged inhalation or skin contact may lead to respiratory irritation, dizziness, nausea, and neurological effects. It is crucial to follow proper safety measures, including the use of personal protective equipment, adequate ventilation, and adherence to recommended exposure limits.
  • Environmental Impact: Perchloroethylene can contribute to environmental contamination if not properly managed. It has the potential to contaminate soil, water sources, and air. Appropriate containment, storage, and disposal practices should be followed to minimize its release into the environment.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Perchloroethylene is subject to regulations and guidelines in many countries due to its potential hazards. It is important to comply with local regulations, obtain necessary permits, and implement best practices to ensure safe handling, storage, and transportation of perchloroethylene.


Perchloroethylene is a widely used chemical compound with significant applications in dry cleaning, metal degreasing, chemical manufacturing, and vapor degreasing processes. While its solvent properties make it valuable, it is essential to handle perchloroethylene with care and adhere to safety precautions to protect human health and the environment. Alpha Chemical Corp is committed to promoting responsible chemical management and providing high-quality chemicals for various industries.


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