28 days of Black Inventions: Dry Cleaning

28 days of Black Inventions

February 9th, 2017

As we normally do this time of year, we’re going to celebrate Black History Month by acknowledging 28 of the most influential, world changing inventions by Black People. Our goal is to shed light on some inventions that most people probably didn’t know about, some of the lessor known inventions as well some of the more notable inventions. So join us on our 28 day journey and you might learn a thing or two.

Dry Cleaning


Thought the idea of George Jefferson was a fluke, think again. There was a Black Man who by most accounts Not only Invented a Product, but a new profession & Industry called “Dry Cleaning”. Dry Cleaning is another form or process that cleans delicate fabrics without the usage of water that may damage the material during the wash. It’s a mostly toxic concoction (most Dry Cleaners of today are Eco friendly) of chemicals used instead of water that achieve the same if not better results as washing with Traditional water. Dry Cleaning however, only refers to the point that the fabrics are not cleaned with water. They do get wet throughout the dry cleaning Process.

Thomas L. Jennings


There was a very successful, Free man from New York City in the early 1800’s who completely changed the way certain fabrics were cleaned. His name was Thomas L. Jennings, an African American man, he was the Inventor of the Process now called “Dry Cleaning”. On March 3rd 1821 he entered the History books for a couple of reasons He was the 1st African American to Receive a Patent & the Inventor of the Modern Day Dry Cleaning called “Dry Scouring”. Up until this Point African Americans were not allowed to Patent any Inventions through the Federal government. Largely due to the fact that a vast majority were Slaves and as Slaves they were considered property. Therefor anything created by a Slave could then be Patented by the Slave Owner. 

The Problem with this case was Thomas L. Jennings was a free man, so the courts ruled in his favor. Thereby granting him the 1st ever Patent for a Product Invented by a African American. This ruling also allowed for Slaves to receive Patents as well until another ruling changed that. From (1857 through 1861 in the south and 1871 for the rest of the country) Slaves were not allowed to Patent Inventions. Thomas L. Jennings was a supporter of the Abolitionists movement he donated time and Money, while his Dry Cleaning business excelled.

Editors Note:  A forgotton hero i would have not known any of this had i not been researching for this blog. These are the stories that go untold, and are of the truly Unsung heroes of our American past. Thomas L. Jennings did a lot of good during his lifetime & we’d just like to acknowledge him and say. #Thankyou



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