Updated: Apr 18, 2020
Clothes are expensive — and we want them to last as long as possible. That's why dry cleaning has always been so popular.
You may not be able to pronounce tetrachloroethylene, but you know how it smells. It's the active ingredient in traditional dry cleaning solvent, and goes by the more common name of perc. But perc has become a big environmental problem. It's a known cancer-causing agent, and perc's composition makes it resistant to breaking down once it's spilled or released into city sewage systems. Up to half the United States' ground water is now tainted with perc. In Maryland alone, 2,800 sites are being considered for cleanup at a cost of $1.4 billion USD.
States are finally moving to phase out the use of perc, but eco-conscious consumers needn't wait to take action. Find a couple that work for you, and help clean the environment and your wardrobe at the same time!
Eco-friendly. Biodegradable cleaning agents. No harsh chemicals. Breezy clean scent (No harsh chemical smell). Environmentally Friendly: Contains no phosphate, perchloroethylene (perc), or trichloroethylene.
Home dry cleaning kits — such as those manufactured under the Dryel brand by Procter and Gamble, and by Clorox as Fresh Care — are not chemical-free, and you shouldn't expect results identical to professional cleaning. But they don't contain perc, and are the leading alternative in areas without eco-friendly cleaners.
But dry cleaning isn’t your only option. What you should really seek out, say specialists at the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute, is wet cleaning — a little-known treatment that’s been around since the early 1900s and has re-emerged as a perc-free option at some dry-cleaning spots. Unlike washing clothes in a traditional machine or by hand, professional wet cleaning uses water that’s pre-mixed with biodegradable cleanser, so pure H2O particles never absorb into fibers. Though some say it can shrink structured fabrics, the EPA says wet cleaning is an environmentally preferable technology to dry cleaning. More information about wet-cleaning to come in another article!