Did you know that the traditional dry cleaning process is harmful to the environment? In this article, we’ll explore some of the reasons why green dry cleaning is a better option for everyone involved.
First, we’ll take a look at how traditional dry cleaning works and what makes it so environmentally unfriendly. Then, we’ll discuss the benefits of sustainable dry cleaning and show how it can be more efficient and beneficial than traditional methods.
Finally, we’ll provide a few tips on how to find a reputable eco friendly dry cleaner in your area.
Why is traditional dry cleaning bad for the environment?
Traditional dry cleaning, also known as solvent cleaning, is a widely used method of removing dirt and stains from dry clean only garments.
In this process, fabrics are submerged in a solvent that dissolves the grime while leaving the fibers intact; the solvent is then removed by a series of rinses and pressings as the garment hangs.
Since there is no water involved (hence the term dry cleaning), it is relatively cost-effective because no energy is used to wring water from the clothes.
Unfortunately, however, the chemicals involved in the process are not so good for the environment. The problem lies with tetrachloroethylene or perchloroethylene, commonly known as PERC (a solvent widely found in traditional dry cleaning).
What is PERC?
PERC is a colorless liquid solvent that is widely used as a dry cleaning solvent. It quickly breaks down into non-toxic byproducts when exposed to air, which makes it relatively safe for workers who handle it.
PERC is widely used because it has good cleaning efficiency and leaves no residue once the clothes are dry. Unfortunately, it doesn’t break down readily in the environment, making it a serious pollutant that poses risks to wildlife and people who come into contact with it.
Why is PERC harmful?
PERC can enter the body through inhalation, ingestion, or skin absorption and attacks the central nervous system and kidneys.
It is also believed to cause depression of the immune system and can damage genetic material, creating potential cancer risks.
Other risks of using PERC
Exposure to PERC has been linked with a number of adverse health effects, including:
- Cancer (of the lung, brain, and lymphatic organs)
- Central Nervous System Effects (dizziness, sleepiness, fatigue, loss of memory, reduced mental acuity)
- Reproductive Impairment (reduced fertility in humans)
- Liver and Kidney Damage
To find out more about why you should stay away from this solvent, check out the entire list of dangers associated with PERC
What is green dry cleaning?
Green dry cleaning is a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional solvent-based dry cleaning. This type of dry cleaning uses what is known as “dry” solvents which, unlike toxic chemicals PERC, break down completely into carbon dioxide and water when exposed to air.
One type of green solvent that is used in this process is hydrogen peroxide, commonly used for a technique called “wet cleaning”. It is a colorless liquid that breaks down in the air to form water and oxygen. We’ll talk more about different types of green solvents later.
What are the benefits of environmentally friendly dry cleaning?
There are several benefits to using environmentally friendly dry cleaning over traditional methods. First, it tends to be more cost-effective than regular dry cleaning because you don’t need to run the process as much.
When you wash clothes at home, for example, you’ll notice that your clothes don’t feel as stiff and rigid after they’re dry; this is because some of the detergents remain in your garments.
With eco friendly dry cleaning methods, however, all of the solvents are removed during the process so there is no residue left on your clothes. This, in turn, means that you can clean your clothes less frequently while still getting the same results.
Second—and this is especially important for people who have a sensitivity to inorganic chemicals— sustainable dry cleaning methods are much safer for the environment and human health as they don’t involve toxic chemicals.
You’ll notice that we keep mentioning green solvents; these are liquids such as hydrogen peroxide, ethanol (ethyl alcohol), or carbon dioxide. They break down easily in both air and water so they don’t pose a threat to the environment, and hence are a go-to choice for a sustainable dry cleaning process.
Finally, this form of dry cleaning is more eco-friendly because it reduces carbon emissions by not using PERC as a solvent. As we’ve mentioned before, PERC can hang around in the environment for a long time and pose a serious risk to people and wildlife due to its toxicity.
What are some common misconceptions about eco friendly dry cleaning?
One of the most common misconceptions about green dry cleaning is that it’s not as effective for removing stains. This doesn’t have to be true at all. In fact, since there are no residues left on your clothes after a green dry clean, you may find that your clothes look even cleaner after going through the process.
Another common misconception is that eco friendly dry cleaning uses more water than traditional methods. Although it’s true that this process does use some water, the actual amount of liquid used in the process is very small compared to what you’d see during a regular laundry cycle or dishwasher run.
If you’re still skeptical about whether green dry cleaning can work for you, you might want to consider using a professional dry cleaner who exclusively uses green methods. You can find one of these businesses by looking for “green cleaners” or “eco-friendly cleaners” online.
Types of sustainable dry cleaning
Liquid Carbon Dioxide Cleaning
Liquid carbon dioxide cleaning is the most common option used by eco friendly dry cleaners. It’s a colorless, odorless gas that turns into a colorless liquid when compressed.
Since it’s not flammable and doesn’t leave any sort of residue, this makes it an ideal choice for dry cleaning clothes; it can break down organic materials while leaving no harmful byproducts.
One of the most commonly used green solvents is a type of silicone solvent called dimethylsiloxane. It’s also sometimes referred to as polydimethylsiloxane, which is why you might see “PDMS” listed when looking up information about green dry cleaning.
This solvent was actually the first one used in this process because it’s both non-toxic and very effective at removing dirt from clothes.
One of the main drawbacks of silicones, however, is that they can be very hard on your clothes. While some businesses still use this solvent and claim it works fine for their customers’ garments, we personally recommend avoiding silicone solvents if possible.
You’ll sometimes see people refer to “wet cleaning” when they’re talking about sustainable dry cleaning. The reason for this is that professional wet cleaning uses a liquid solvent, just like standard dry cleaning methods. The main difference between the two is that traditional dry cleaning uses non-aqueous or petroleum solvents while wet cleaning methods use water-based solvents. The biggest benefit of the wet cleaning process is that you’re less likely to damage your clothes, especially if they’re made from natural fibers such as cotton or wool. Since the solvent used in wet cleaning is just plain old water, this process also has the least impact on the environment out of all available methods.
What is the best eco friendly dry cleaning company in the US?
There isn’t just one answer to this question, unfortunately – it all depends on what you’re looking for.
Some companies will offer only eco friendly dry cleaning while others will also provide other laundry and/or garment services such as ironing or storing clothing in a climate-controlled storage facility between uses.
One of the companies that do a commendable job is Mulberry’s dry cleaners. Although they won’t be available everywhere, here is just an example of what you’d expect from a great sustainable dry cleaners brand
Mulberry’s chemical-free dry cleaning mission
Mulberry’s mission to become the spearhead for sustainable cleaning in the US has made them one of the more popular eco friendly dry cleaners. This business not only uses natural solvents to remove dirt from clothes but also reuses certain clothing items customers leave behind instead of throwing them away.
The greatest part about this business is that they’ll take almost anything, no matter how damaged it is, and restore it to a wearable condition.
This is yet another reason why they have become so successful – their high success rate for “miracle” cleaning has made them a leader among US green dry cleaners.
Mulberry’s Dry Cleaning Solution
Mulberry is one of the few sustainable dry cleaners that use a patented green chemical-free dry cleaning solvent called XTR3.
This low VOC solvent is made from bio-based sources and doesn’t leave behind any harmful chemical residues or fumes, making it not only safe for you but also for those around you as well as the environment.
The XTR3 solvent also doesn’t contain any known human allergens, making it ideal for those with allergies or sensitive skin types that might encounter issues when using traditional dry cleaning methods.
How to find a green dry cleaning brand near you
To find one of the best sustainable dry cleaners near you, try using an online search engine like Google Maps to see what businesses are available in your area.
Before people became aware of how harmful traditional dry cleaning solvents could be to the environment, it was considered environmentally safe to use these types of non-eco-friendly dry cleaners.
Now that we understand the damage these solvents can cause to our planet, we need to do what we can to reduce its impact and find sustainable alternatives such as green dry cleaning processes like wet cleaning.
If you want to be greener and reduce your overall harm to the environment, taking some time to research green dry cleaning services in your area is a great place to start. Whether you need something is done today or this weekend, chances are good that there’s an eco friendly dry cleaner near where you live or work who can accommodate your needs.