Dry Cleaning: Some Facts, Do It Less, and Go With a Green Cleaner Instead
1. You know that sort of chemical smell or dry smell on your clothes after they’ve been dry cleaned? That’s perchloroethylene (perc) and it’s a known carcinogen.
2. All those clothes that say “Dry Clean Only”? Not so. Polyester is plastic. So is rayon. Silk is the oldest material out there. (Do you think the Chinese were dry cleaning silk during the Ming Dynasty?) Wool is infinitely hand-washable. Wash all of the above, by hand, in cold water with a very little soap. Don’t even think about putting in the dryer.
3. Dry cleaning isn’t really dry. In the perc method, your clothes are immersed in a chemical bath to clean them.
4. The new Green cleaners are not perfect, but they are better than the old dry perc cleaners; for you, for your kids, for your planet. They employ one of three other cleaning methods, using C02, silicone or hydrocarbons, as opposed to the aforementioned Perchloroethylene. It’s not perfect, but it’s a great step in the right direction.
For a more in depth analysis of conventional versus green cleaners, read this Wall Street Journal article by Gwendolyn Bounds.
No time for the whole article? Check out Gwendolyn’s recommendation for finding green cleaners in your neighborhood: “For now, the Web is the best bet for consumers hunting for a non-perc cleaner in their neighborhood. CO2 cleaners are listed at findco2.com, wet-cleaners at professionalwetcleaning.com and GreenEarth cleaners at greenearthcleaning.com. There’s also nodryclean.com, which lists various cleaners by method, and igreenclean.org.”
Even though the article is from 2008, the dry cleaning chemical facts in this post by Melissa Breyer are detailed and accurate. Terri Hall gives some great instruction for hand washing wool, silk and rayon in her article, and Annie B. Bond points out various toxic chemicals lurking on our clothes and in our closets and how you can get rid of them.