I read a long time ago about conventional dry cleaning not being good for you. The solvent used is called perc, or perchloroethylene. It is known to cause symptoms such as headaches, confusion, nausea and skin, lung and eye irritations. Studies on laboratory animals indicate that high exposures can produce effects on the developing fetus. It is also a major air and water pollutant.
So I read all about this when I was pregnant with the boys. Of course, I became paranoid about the dry cleaning. I searched for organic dry cleaning and to my delight, I found one in Charlotte. Therefore, I started taking my husband’s dry cleaning there. No need to send my size XXL sweatpants to the cleaners! No really, I did start reading labels and tried to steer clear from dry clean only clothes. It will save you money and it’s better for you and the environment. I would even wash them in the hand wash cycle at home vs. taking the clothes to the dry cleaner. My husband wouldn’t be able to forgo the cleaners so this seemed like a good solution for the time being. Of course, the “organic” dry cleaning did cost more than the conventional but not enough to deter me from going there.
Then probably a year or so later, I read that these “perc-free” cleaners were using unhealthy petroleum-derived substitutes such as DF-2000 and Eco Solv. These are potentially toxic and one called Green Earth has been linked to uterine cancer. I thought “come on!” This is ridiculous. So I called my “organic” cleaner and to my dismay they used DF2000. They were very reluctant to give up the information and wanted to know why I wanted to know. So I thought I might as well go back to our old cleaner which was way more convenient in location and less money. I felt like I had been scammed. It appears that the safe way to go is find a cleaner that uses liquid carbon dioxide which has no known risks and less pollution. “Wet cleaning” is the best alternative. When handled appropriately, your cleaner should be able to clean fabrics such as wool and silk with water. So I tried to find a local cleaner that uses CO2 or wet cleaning. The closest I found was Cornelius. A place called Hangers Cleaners. There is a site www.findco2.com that will find cleaners that use CO2. Unfortunately, there aren’t many out there in North Carolina. It looks like we will continue to use our current dry cleaner but try to do as much at home as possible. I plan to ask next time if they are able to wet clean garments. I am not sure what the best answer is for my husband’s work attire ……. I am hoping that maybe some of you entrepreneurs out there will seize this opportunity and start your own CO2 or wet cleaning business!! You can also urge your cleaners to make the switch. I guess I could try the old way and wash, iron and starch the shirts myself. Who am I kidding! I hate to iron and I honestly don’t think I could find the time to do it.
So be careful with all these companies jumping on the “green” bandwagon and question your organic cleaner. I would LOVE to hear if you find a place that does use the safer alternatives. In today’s economy or any economy, it is wise to know if you are really paying for what you think you are getting. Oh, and on the recycling note. I always return our hangers to the cleaners for reuse. I have found that most places accept them instead of throwing in the trash. Please visit the following site for more information on wet cleaning and to download a wallet guide – www.coopamerica.org/pubs/realmoney/articles/drycleaning.cfm
Don’t forget to register for the “Big Top” giveaway. Our friends at Discovery Place want to give one Smarty family the chance to see Circus! Click here for your chance to win a family 4-pack to this exhibit. This giveaway ends Wednesday, January 14th, at 11pm.
We have drastically cut down on dry cleaning since switching myhusbands shirts and business casual pants to the “traveler’s collection” from Jos. Banks. His now get washed and dried with the rest of the laundry as do his wool pants. They come out with the creases still in tact. He will do a light touch up on the sirts if he has time. He was a die hard starch guy, but is very happy with these shirts. We just get a few more whenever they have a big sale on them.
Brooks Brothers also sells “no-iron” oxfords. I wash and dry these separately from the rest of the laundry and they come out fantastic. No touch ups with the iron even needed. We only dry clean my husbands dress pants.
Dana,good job on your research. I own 4 Hangers Cleaners in San Diego, opening in 2001 after visiting Raleigh in late 1999. The whole CO2 drycleaning/Hangers Cleaners started in Raleigh area, with first one in Wilmington. There was one in Charlotte but i don't know what happened there. It is unfortunate that such a great concept as Hangers started in NC but has whithered in recent years. For those who have tried CO2 drycleaning it truly is world's apart from traditional DC. The other 2 commentors are both referring to clothes that are not dryclean type garments anyway. All drycleaners also laundry and press dress shirts and casual pants, including smart Care, or no-iron. Depends on how "Neat & Clean" you want you wardrobe to be.Gordon ShawHangers CleanersSan Diego
Hi Gordon,Thanks for the great information. That is an interesting story on how Hangers evolved in North Carolina. I had no idea. That’s too bad the one in Charlotte didn’t last. Good to hear you are having great success with it on the West coast. Let’s hope it finds it way back to NC soon. Thanks so much for reading and giving us your expert advice!Thanks to the above commentors for giving ideas on where to shop for items that can be laundered at home. We appreciate you sharing your “smarty” wardrobe tips.
LL Bean also has fantastic work clothes that are “iron free”. My husband has been wearing them for a few years and the shirts still look good as new!
There is a Hangers in Charlotte. It is uptown next to the Harris Teeter on Poplar. I have used them for a couple of years and have had great results!
Hello, I am contacting you about the Solvair Cleaning System (Solvair), which may be of interest to you and your readers. Solvair is a new and radically different option for consumers that represents a major scientific breakthrough in dry cleaning; an eco-friendly clothing care technology that truly works. You may have read about other green dry cleaning methods, but Solvair is a different approach; it is a totally planned system, as opposed to just a new dry cleaning machine or alternative solvent. As a system, it has been purposely designed to ensure that both superior cleaning results and good environmental practices are built into the system.Solvair cleans clothes with a biodegradable cleaning fluid, conceptually similar to water and detergent in your home washer. Instead of drying clothes with heated air, like traditional dry cleaning or a home dryer, Solvair uses a unique cold liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) drying process, a departure from the clothes have been cleaned and dried for the last century. Drying without heat has many advantages; clothes last longer because it is gentler than traditional heat drying and without heat, stains don’t set. This different kind of process takes cleaning to a higher level, removing a wider range of dirt and stains. Clothes get clean while remaining odor free, with noticeably vivid colors, truer darks, and brighter whites. Every aspect of the technology was engineered with environmental, worker and consumer safety in mind. Beyond the selection of safe and eco-friendly cleaning fluids, the system’s closed-loop design minimizes emissions and maximizes purification and reuse of supplies. Solvair’s waste rates are half that of traditional dry cleaning and it does not create any process waste-water. The system also includes an infrastructure for the safe and reliable disposal, reclamation and repurposing of the process wastes. Please note that there is inaccurate information about Solvair on the internet posted by competitors and others who have been misinformed. Most widely quoted is a story on the Green America site. This article misidentifies the solvent used in the Solvair process and, as a result, lists health impacts that are not at all associated with Solvair. We have contacted Green America to correct this and are awaiting a response. Sierra Club similarly identified the wrong chemical used by Solvair but have since reviewed the data and removed Solvair from an “avoid” list, suggesting instead that consumers consider Solvair when drycleaning is required. For more information on Solvair, please visit our website, http://www.solvaircleaning.com. I think some of your readers who are interested in eco-friendly garment care or green technologies might find this information interesting. If you have any questions about Solvair or green dry cleaning, please don’t hesitate to contact me.Thank you,Ashley BowerMarketing & Communications ManagerSolvair LLC
I am a drycleaner in Denver Colorado and have been activally in the business since 1970. The solvent we use is "PERC" which if you talk to any reputable dry cleaner he or she will tell you is still the best cleaning solvent. Perc is toxic to breathe and deadly to swallow but so is oven cleaner and any number of household cleaners as well as gasoline, paint thinners and nail polish all of which if used inappropiatly will cause bodily damage, health problems and even cancer.The bottom line is drycleaning was invented beacause of the adverse effect of water on textile fibers especially wools and other protein fibers. CO2 does a below average cleaning job at best and those operaters compensate by wet cleaning a high percentage of garments to get quailty the public will accept.If your PERC cleaner is drying his cleaning loads properly the amount of solvent left is negligable and add steam pressing to that and your exposure to chemicals as a consumer is much less than many household cleaners.Also your drycleaner is required by law to dispose his of waste using a liscensed hauler in approved containers. The biggest problem with PERK is not consumer or even employee exposure but ground contamination as it is heavier than water making clean up more challenging.Most if not all cleaners today beacause of strict laws are not damaging the enviroment at all and for the damage from past years when regulations actually encouraged careless pratices modern clean up procedures are dramatically more efficient as well as affordable. Do not be afraid to use a cleaner based on the type of solvent he or she uses. Do choose your cleaner on how well he or she cares for your clothes and how you are treated and valued as a customer and last price matters; too cheap is just that; too expensive may not be the best value.
What i recommend method about dry cleaning is wet cleaning, in which cleans fabrics using carefully controlled amounts of water, special toxic biodegradable detergents and computer-operated equipment. I hope this would help.
Many organic dry cleaners aren’t really using a chemical-free process to clean your clothes. Legal definitions have yet to be established in this industry, so dry cleaners are at liberty to use the word “organic,” which is very misleading to unknowing consumers.mesa dry cleaners