To be green or to dry clean?

Do you shun dry cleaning because it’s not green? We don’t dry clean. Probably more out of convenience and cheapness and anything else. But I’m quick to throw out the chemicals excuse as well.

I didn’t really know anything about dry cleaning chemicals, and if they were bad for the environment.

Traditional dry cleaners use perchloroethylene, or PERC. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), PERC is a colorless, non-flammable liquid that can be dangerous to those working around it. Breathing a small amount can, “adversely affect the human nervous system,” causing problems such as dizziness and fatigue. Prolonged exposure can lead to liver and kidney damage.

The EPA reports that while PERC by itself isn’t likely to harm the enviornment, it can “contribute to the formation of photochemical smog when it reacts with other volatile organic carbon substances in the air.”

But there are dry cleaners that don’t use PERC. Some use a carbon dioxide (CO2) cleaning method and others use a wet cleaning method.

The CO2 method uses liquid carbon dioxide, which is non-toxic. A case study by the EPA found that this method, “produces no hazardous waste, eliminates exposures to traditional drycleaning solvents, and does not use ozone-depleting compounds.”

Wet-cleaning uses milder detergents than those we use at home, along with special washing machines. According a case study by the EPA, is also environmentally preferable.

Beware of some dry cleaners that claim they are organic. Some use a solvent called DF-2000 that is actually a petroleum product.

How do you find dry cleaners near you that use a CO2 or wet cleaning method? Try It’s simple to use. We live in a fairly rural area, and the closest one to us is 83 miles away.

What to do then? Well, one option is at home dry cleaning.  We have tried Dryel. Dryel is an at home dry-cleaning kit, that does not contain PERC.

We had pretty good success with it, but we weren’t sure of the ingredients used and if the chemicals were bad for us. They don’t list the specific ingredients on their packaging or their website.

Many dry clean only garments can be hand-washed and line-dried. We mainly just try to be very careful when we wear dry clean only items.

What do you do with dry clean only clothes?


One comment on “To be green or to dry clean?

  1. Dario Moneaux
    February 15, 2010

    Glad to have found out about this site really found it useful and will come back to explore when I am not so busy.

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