Green Solution to Dry Cleaning Pollution

I was inspired to create this blog by folks who complain environmentalists whine too much and never offer pratical solutions or ideas. I've whined quite a bit in the blog already, so to balance it out, I'm going to offer some pratical solutions and ideas in this entry.

Did you know that pressurized liquid carbon dioxide can be used to dry clean clothes?

Er...I'm putting the cart before the horse here. Did you know the chemicals that your dry cleaner uses to wash your clothes are horrendously bad for the environment? In fact, if a dry cleaner leaks those chemicals into the ground, or otherwise doesn't properly dispose of them, they may be responsible for very expensive clean-up procedures and federal discipline.

In the mid-1930s dry cleaners began using tetrachlorethylene to clean spots out of clothing. It is regarded as the best and gentlist clothes cleaner. Unfortunately, tetrachlorethylene and other types of perchloroethylenes are toxic and may cause liver and kidney damage to individuals exposed to the chemicals long term.

To avoid the mess of federal discipline and kidney damage, some dry cleaners have explored environmentally conscious alternatives to tetrachlorethylene. Some of those involve using biodegradable soaps, silicone solvents, and alternative petroleum solvents.

It was this movement of green dry cleaning that inspired Gordan Shaw of San Diego to experiment with pressurized liquid carbon dioxide in his dry cleaning business. In this (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16753903/site/newsweek/) Newsweek profile of Shaw, the dry cleaner explains how he discovered the process at a convention and after seeing it clean high school ban uniforms to perfection, he was convinced. He has since made a lot of money and expanded his operation to multiple locations in San Diego.

How does your dry cleaner clean clothes? Ask them if they use "percs" in the process. If they do, ask if you can choose an environmentally friendly alternative. Call around and see what dry cleaners in your town offer in terms of eco-options. Once you've found the dry cleaner with the cleaning dry cleaning, tell your friends and stay loyal.


  1. I used to work in a dry cleaners and perclorolethylate and tetraclorolethylate drycleaning solvents were always closely and carefully monitored for any leakage in the drycleaning machines, themselves, which is easy to avoid with regular maintenence. That being said, in practice the more eco-friendly drycleaning solvents do not clean certain stains and gum-like residues from clothing as well as the perc. and tetra. solvents. Also,clothing manufacturers will still probably be producing clothing with cleaning instructions specifying the sole cleaning method of the garment to be drycleaning with perc.should you use another solvent the chances of damaging that garment increase, and if the drycleaner must go against the cleaning instructions,or care label, then they can't guarantee there won't be any damage to the article of clothing.
    With California banning the use of perc. there will be lots of people finding it suddenly impossible to clean their favorite skirt or sport coat. Hopefully, if nothing else,the new ban of perc.will finally create a new generation of shoppers who actually read the care labels of garments instead of assuming that everythings cleanable.

  2. Check out a list of perc alternatives at this website: