How “green” is green dry-cleaning? I walk past these places and my inner cynic utters a “yea right, “ but I am curious about how (and if) it works. I started doing a little digging and what I found is pretty scary. The chemicals used in traditional dry cleaning are downright harmful in any amount. Other methods that claim being green are also kind of frightening, too.
First off, what’s so bad with regular dry cleaning?
Most regular dry cleaners use perchloroethylene (perc) as a solvent. The EPA lists dizziness, fatigue, and headaches as side effects for breathing perc for short periods of time, and it has been shown to cause cancer when exposed to larger amounts over time.
What is green cleaning?
So it turns out this umbrella term can be applied to many different types of alternate cleaning methods although all aren’t as green as they claim. These are two methods are your best bet.
- This method uses water-based solutions that target the stains PH level. It’s a non-toxic method that uses biodegradable solutions.
- This method uses liquid CO2 to clean clothes. It recycles carbon dioxide that is already in the air. Some of it is recaptured and reused and the rest is released back into the air, however no new CO2 is created.
Other “Green” methods
Beware not all cleaners that claim being green actually are. Avoid places that use hydrocarbon, a petroleum-based solvent, which can harm the environment.
Also avoid cleaners, like GreenEarth® Cleaners, that use D-5, another name for volatile methyl siloxane, which is shown to cause tumors in rats in laboratory testing.
Before you give up on your delicates and un-washables, take heart. You’ve been warned about the dangers, which is half the battle.
Next time you need to have something cleaned, wet cleaning and CO2 cleaning are good alternatives. Or you can always just gently clean things with a soft damp cloth and gentle soap.