Our Planet, Our Health: Why You Should Join the Green Dry Cleaning Revolution

Why are so many people rethinking the way they clean and refresh clothes? Dry cleaning does harm to the environment by releasing chemicals into the air, harming water supplies and ground soil. However, alternatives exist and flourish in cities, rural settings, and private residences.


PERC, or perchoroethylene, is a chemical solvent used on clothes, but also an ingredient in paint strippers, spot removers, and shoe polish. Likely a carcinogen and declared toxic via Canadian Environmental Protection Act, PERC harms the liver and central nervous system. Additionally, PERC is linked to cancers and vociferous workplace studies.

The chemical quickly evaporates, becoming a latent threat to drycleaners and those living close to operations. PERC finds way into soil as well; due to airborne contact and improper dumping, PERC makes way into water systems too.

Consumers self clean or opt for providers who use the following ‘green’ methods of dry cleaning.

Hand Washing

A mild soap rids clothes of surface germs and bacteria, and additional hand friction to address stains makes hand washing a viable alternative. Dry cleaning is harsh and damages delicate materials, which lessens the life of expensive clothing. To ensure proper form of clothing, set clothes down to dry.


Some use an abrasive brush to scrape away soil and stains, which rids clothing of collected dust and debris. Similar to a floor sweeping, brushing frees a surface of collected debris for a clean appearance. Add cleaning solvent to stained areas. Otherwise, brushing is a completely dry method of cleansing.


Heat and steam rids clothes of bacteria and foul odors. Furthermore, the steam frees fabrics of wrinkles and a ‘worn’ appearance. Place delicates in a dryer at high heat, or hang articles of clothing in the bathroom and turn the hot water on high. Alternatively, handheld and standing electric powered steamers make it convenient to keep clothes looking good while on the run to work, formal event, or local store.


Perhaps the most outrageous of alternatives, fill a spray bottle with vodka (Use the cheap stuff.), spray on clothes, and let hang dry. The alcohol kills odor and bacteria. You may need to address stains with a remover, but otherwise, the method is known to work well.

Greener Cleaning

Search for a cleaning service that does not use harmful PERC ingredients. Pressurized CO2 is environment friendly and a popular alternative to harsh chemicals. Those concerned for their families, neighborhoods, and the environment seek better businesses in the area.


Electing to buy garments that don’t require dry cleaning is a surefire way to save money and the environment. Plenty of natural fabrics produce beautiful suits and dresses. Low­maintenance does not equal low quality or projected pride, and you don’t need to spend a lot of money to feel great and exude confidence.


SWASH pods, found at http://www.bedbathandbeyond.com, are non­abrasive, extend the life of clothes, and save money on wardrobes. Furthermore, using SWASH pods lessens the number of times consumers need to go to the cleaners by 50%.Clean, de­wrinkle, and refresh clothes at home while being kind to the environment.


Similar to hand washing, dipping garments in a large tub filled with a makeup of lemon juice, vinegar, salt, and baking soda works. The ingredients are natural and won’t harm fine fabrics. A clothes cleaning machine uses an excess of water. Save on energy and water by dipping clothes into a homemade solution.

Jennifer Asmus is a full­time worker and mom of three young children. An avid writer, she enjoys sharing what works for her with other busy parents. Look for her interesting posts on a variety of websites and blogs.

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