Advertisement for Budde Cleaners

A French housewife accidently upended a kerosene lamp on her dining room table.  It was a good-sized section of the table cloth that was affected.  After she dried the spot where the kerosene had spilled, she discovered the spot was as clean as when it was new.  According to some, this knowledge was the beginning of the dry cleaning industry.
Henry Budde, a native of the Netherlands, was a dry cleaner.  He was a partner in the original Economy Dye House in Grand Rapids.  Mr. Budde was originally a tailor.  He made his son, Harry, a jacket, which became quite soiled.  Dry cleaning not being generally accepted, Henry Budde took the jacket apart and reversed the cloth, putting it back together with the clean side exposed.
Harry was born in Amsterdam and came to the United States when he was nine years old.  He studied engineering at the University of Detroit but in 1934 he left school to go into the dry cleaning business with his father.  His father died the following year and he has been operating the business since then.
WWI gave the dry cleaning business a lift.  The armed forces uniforms were dry cleaned.  Increased volume resulted in lower fees for the service.
Solvents have improved in recent years allowing the cleaner to do a better job.  New chemicals can clean even delicate fabrics now.  Non-flammable solvents have eliminated explosions and fires.

Budde Cleaners Delivery Van

Grand Rapids Press Photo - 6 July 1950
A swarm of bees alighted on a Budde Dry Cleaners Truck in downtown Grand Rapids.
The driver is Bernard A. Heimler

Created: 3 January 2008
And 23 July 2011