From our humble beginnings as a dyeing and scouring company in the late 1800's to one of Toronto's most innovative Dry Cleaners we've learned a thing or two about keeping you looking your best.
Parkers Cleaners was founded by Robert Parker who emigrated to Canada from England, and originally located in Montreal. After moving to Ottawa in 1876, he, along with his sons, purchased and renovated a church on Sparks Street. The original name was R. Parker Dyeing and Scouring Works, because dry cleaning had not yet been established. As a result, all items were washed. The old church served until 1903, when the company moved to a newly constructed three story building.
The main business was dyeing ostrich feathers and cleaning gloves. However, one room in the new building was fire-proofed for dry cleaning. Dry cleaning was done by way of hand brushing garments with benzene (a highly flammable liquid) and hanging them up to air dry.
After World War I broke out, Parkers received lucrative contracts from the government to dye dufflebags khaki in colour. With revenues growing, Parkers purchased new and innovative solvents from England and used them in equipment. By the time WW II broke out, Parkers was well established in what was the precursor to modern-day dry cleaning with Petroleum based solvents. Government contracts continued to find their way to Parkers. After the War, the dyeing business steadily decreased, and Parkers began cleaning with perchloroethylene, a new synthetic non-flammable solvent. This paved the way for on-site cleaning in residential areas.
The company was incorporated as Parker's Dye Works & Cleaners Limited in 1951, and was by this time controlled by the Clarkson family. The industry was transformed by second generation machines that eliminated the need for two machines. Washing and drying could be done in one. As a result dry cleaning boomed in the 1950s but many companies were still using flammable petroleum solvents, for which many insurance companies would not issue coverage. Parkers was always ahead of the curve, having used Perc for the past 20 years.
Wash-and-wear, permanent press and other easy-care options take a big bite out of the dry cleaning industry but fashion trends towards double knit garments and offers a lifeline. The International Fabricare Institute is also formed, signifying a mature industry. The first "Dry Clean Only" label appears on clothing. Third Generation machines aim to reduce vapor from the dry cleaning process, a step in protecting the environment.
A series of Environmentally beneficial technologies are brought to market including Global Technologies' DryWash liquid-CO2 process, and the industry’s first 100% professional wetcleaning operation. GreenEarth, launches in 1999 and Parkers becomes the first Canadian Dry cleaner to adopt the revolutionary GreenEarth Cleaning process using Silicone rather than harmful chemicals. Parkers also becomes the only Dry Cleaner in Canada to use the Environmentally friendly Solvair cleaning process, using Carbon Dioxide without creating any.
The 2000's ushers in unprecedented innovation in the Dry Cleaning industry, with new environmentally friendly solvents, new wet cleaning methods that produce zero emissions, carbon dioxide cleaning processes that are truly green. Parkers adopted many of these methods and in 2010, started a multi-phased approach to become more environmentally friendly and raise awareness in Toronto. Parkers continues to offer the best experience for customers offline and online with convenient and professional concierge services like in-home cleaning, free pick up and delivery with online scheduling, reusable green garment and shirt bags and a significant reduction in plastic for packaging.
We take great care in what we do and as such, we associate ourselves with organizations that help ensure the highest quality results for our customers.