|Green Dry Cleaning and Where to Find an Eco Dry Cleaner|
|Monday, 30 July 2012 00:00 | Written by Jasmine Greene | Article|
So you’ve just stained that beautiful cashmere sweater made from free-range alpacas, and the only way that you can launder it is through dry cleaning. But wait, being eco-chic is not just about the clothes you wear, but also about how you clean them afterwards. Here’s what you need to know about the advantages of environmentally conscious dry cleaning and how to find a green dry cleaner you can trust in your area.
Traditional Dry Cleaning
While the vast majority of dry cleaners still use perc as their main solvent, many progressive dry cleaning companies have answered the pleas of ecologically concerned customers by switching to one of these laundering alternatives:, silicone-solvent based, liquid carbon-dioxide and wet. And compared to traditional methods, the silicone-solvent and liquid carbon-dioxide methods have been shown to clean just as well.
GreenEarth, in a joint venture with General Electric and Proctor & Gamble, is helping dry cleaners integrate this solvent worldwide. The count stands at 1,500 and more are following suit daily. While there had been health concerns about the D5 solvent causing uterine cancer in female rats, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) concluded in 2008 that D5 posed no threat.
Liquid Carbon-Dioxide Cleaning
While silicone-based solvents and liquid CO2 each perform better than traditional perc, the costs to switch and install to the new method may be too much for many small companies. Liquid carbon-dioxide equipment costs about $40,000 for one machine.
One caveat: if your prospective dry cleaner offers liquid CO2, ask if they use Solvaire machines. If they do, “just say no.” These machines replace perc with glycol ether—a possible kidney and neuro-respiratory toxin—as a solvent.
Less Dry Cleaning
Dry cleaners aren’t always necessary for stain removal either. If you’ve got a wine or berry stain on your white shirt, you can remove it by soaking in white vinegar then washing normally. You can even put a damp towel in with your delicates in the dryer to remove stains and odors.
Green Cleaning, Not Greenwashing
The US Environmental Protection Agency offers a useful, though not very current, publication listing ecofriendly dry cleaners across the country(PDF) by state. A faster and more up-to-date alternative is using the NoDryClean green dry cleaner database. Simply type in your zip code and select a radius of between five and 100 miles and voila! You get a mapped list of green dry cleaning services in your area.
Armed with this knowledge, you can reduce the number of dry-clean-only items you own and buy; safely hand-wash those items that (despite the label) really aren’t dry-clean only; and find dry cleaners who walk the green walk, not just talk the green talk. If you do, you’ll be keeping the Earth as clean as your clothes—both for yourself and for many generations to come.
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