Is Green Dry Cleaning Actually Safer?

Have you ever seen “green” or “organic” signs posted in the window of a dry cleaner? Do you ever wonder what those words actually mean? Similar to the skin care industry, stores can throw around these terms as marketing copy without any real substantiation. Here’s a little information to help you find a safer dry cleaning experience.

Aside from being expensive, conventional dry cleaning is harmful for the environment and our health. Most conventional dry cleaners use a toxic chemical called PERC (perchloroethylene), which has been linked to central nervous system damage, harm to the kidney and liver, chronic fatigue, headaches and other health concerns.

Many dry cleaners that are labeled “organic” don’t use PERC but instead use VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, which are also linked to harming our health.

What to ask when finding a safer dry cleaner:

  • Do you use PERC or perchlorate in the dry cleaning process?
  • Do you use any chemicals that are VOCs?
  • Can you provide a full list of the chemicals used in your dry cleaning process?
  • Do you perform “wet cleaning”? (This is the safest method for cleaning “dry clean only” clothes.)

Other tips to avoid harsh dry cleaning chemicals:

  • Avoid buying “dry clean only” clothing when possible to make things easy and save a few bucks.
  • Many “dry clean only” outfits can be washed at home by hand. Find out how to do this here.
  • Hard to keep it straight? Print off this wallet card from the NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council).
  • Don’t miss my best tips for finding safe laundry detergent when you clean the rest of your clothes.

Once you find a genuinely safer dry or wet cleaner (they do exist!) you can tell your friends and family and help support a local business owner doing the right thing. Here’s to a healthy environment, safe workers and our health.

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