Despite its name, commercial dry cleaning is not actually a “dry” process. Clothes are immersed in a solvent, most commonly perchlorethylene (perc), instead of in water. Perc or other similar solvents are effective in the removal of oil and grease-based stains without damaging or shrinking sensitive fabrics, unlike a regular detergents and fabric softeners. |
Eco-friendly Dry Cleaning
Although dry cleaning is the most significant source of perc contamination, there are multiple alternatives to cleaning without perc and being consciously aware of health and the environment.
The three most recommended methods are:
1. Wet Cleaning : This method cleans fabrics using controlled amounts of water, special non-toxic biodegradable detergents, and computer-operated equipment. Although wet cleaning is more costly, the EPA considers this one of the safest professional cleaning methods available.
2. Carbon Dioxide Cleaning: In this method, liquid CO2 is the primary solvent. If kept at room temperature, CO2 can exist as a liquid while being stored in a closed system (machine) at an elevated pressure (EPA, 2010). CO2 functions as an effective cleaning solvent when combined with various detergents. Once the cleaning cycle is complete, the CO2 dry cleaning machine pulls the mixture of liquid CO2 and detergents away from the clothing while cleaning and reusing the solution. No heat is required in this process.
3. GreenEarth Cleaning: Another recent alternative solvent is GreenEarth. This method is an environmentally safe dry cleaning process that replaces petroleum-based solvents with liquid silicone, a gentle solution made from one of the earth's safest and most abundant natural resources: silica, or sand. Dry cleaners love cleaning with GreenEarth because it is an effective green cleaning method that doesn't cost more than traditional dry cleaning system .
These three cleaning methods are significantly safer where human health and the environment are a concern.
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