Many people don’t realize that dry cleaning isn’t as natural of a process as it sounds. Most dry cleaners in the United States, 85% to be exact, use a very hazardous chemical called perchloroethylene (also known as perc) to remove tough-to-get-out stains. It is actually labeled as a carcinogen by the EPA which means it is known to cause cancer and is linked to other health issues that affect the nerves, liver, and kidneys.
As this health concern is becoming more known to the general public, more people are looking for a safer option for having their garments dry cleaned. And many dry cleaners are starting to take notice. Safer, eco-friendly dry cleaning options which include silicone-solvent based, liquid carbon dioxide, and wet. These eco-friendly options clean just as well too!
Silicone-based dry cleaning involves using the chemical, Cyclic Silioxane, which breaks down to sand, water, and carbon dioxide which is no threat or health hazard to people or the enviromentment.
This eco-friendly alternative uses non-toxic, liquid CO2 (which is the same that is found in soda) and detergent. Less energy is used when using this type of solvent because no heat is required in the cleaning process and it poses no threats to humans.
One thing to take note of: if your dry cleaner uses this cleaning method but uses Solvaire machines, don’t continue using this dry cleaner as the combination between liquid carbon dioxide dry cleaning and Solvaire machines are just as toxic together as perc.
Wet cleaning isn’t as effective as the other two cleaning options listed but it is less expensive and uses less water. A big issues with wet cleaning though, is that it may end up being as toxic as perc since the spotting agent they use is equally toxic.
When choosing an eco-friendly dry cleaner, ask the dry cleaners what they use to clean garments. Dry cleaners that use safer alternatives will be very transparent about it. Those that don’t may not want to say what they use and will more than likely be vague or silent in their responses.
If you’re uncomfortable using any type of chemical with dry cleaning, even the eco-friendly version, rethink your wardrobe. Instead of purchasing clothes that need to be dry cleaned, start buying more clothes that are machine wash only that don’t need to be dry cleaned. This will avoid having to interrogate dry cleaners to see what they use to clean!
Don’t be afraid to ask the right questions at your local dry cleaner. Doing so will protect your health and the environment.