I used to have a dry cleaning bill the size of Mount Everest. Fortunately, with my departure from a professional job (although I am now a “professional mom” and should earn about $132K a year, but a paycheck never arrives!) the dry cleaning bill is much, much smaller.
I never gave much thought to the chemicals and solvents used in dry cleaning – namely Tetrachloroethylene, also known as Perchloroethylene or “Perc”. It’s considered a carcinogen and is a danger for the workers cleaning the clothes and for us, once we bring our clothes home and they “off-gas.” Just like that ‘new car smell’, you know the smell of dry cleaned clothes, right? Well, it’s perc and known side effects include confusion, dizziness, fatigue, headaches, nausea and difficulty speaking and walking. Well, all that for crisp, clean(?) clothes… I don’t think so!
Since my husband still has some occasional dry cleaning, it’s time to look for a green dry cleaner! Start with Green Earth to help you locate one in your area. They skip the harsh chemicals and use an environmentally safe process that replaces petroleum-based (harmful) solvents with liquid silicone. Another process that is catching on is carbon dioxide cleaning. When put under high pressure, it can carry biodegradable soap, just like water in our washing machine, and then is reused without harmful effects. Just make sure your dry cleaner is actually using one of these processes. There are plenty of “green impostors” out there!
And if you do dry clean, here are a few more tips:
- Don’t throw the hangers away. Remove the paper and recycle it, and whether they are plastic or metal, return them to the dry cleaner (since 85% of them wind up in landfills!). You can also ask your cleaner about using paper hangers or EcoHangers too.
- Not all “dry clean only” garments truly require dry cleaning… it’s just a way for clothing manufacturers to protect themselves in case you do a shoddy wash job! Give it some thought before you send it off for dry cleaning.
- Go less frequently – wait until you have a bunch of clothes to clean. This will save some of those horrible plastic bags they place over our garments, because whether you have one item or six, they all get hung together with one bag.
Just remember, you CAN have crispy, clean, fashionable clothes without walking into walls and slurring your words, and worrying about what was left in the wake.