Choose the Safer Option: Organic Dry Cleaning

When you take your garments to the dry cleaner, you expect them to come out looking clean and smelling fresh. Sometimes, however, you might find a mild chemical smell in your garments. Why is this? Well, many dry cleaners use chemicals that leave the scent of solvent lingering on your clothes. Should you be worried? Is there an alternative?

Perchloroethylene, or “perc” for short, is most often the chemical in question, and is potentially hazardous to both people and the environment. What harm can long-term exposure to this chemical create? Some studies have suggested kidney problems, liver conditions, and maybe even cancer.

How does perc enter a person’s system? Frighteningly, it happens through skin contact. When you wear clothes that have been cleaned with perc, you may be absorbing dangerous traces of the chemical.

So what options do you have when your clothes need to be dry cleaned? We encourage getting your clothes cleaned at a quality dry cleaner, which is likelier to use organic methods. Look for terms like “eco-friendly” the next time you stop by your cleaner. Some eco-friendly dry cleaning agents may still contain hydrocarbons—which are not as harmful, but are not technically organic.

In fact, true organic dry cleaning isn’t “dry” at all. It involves a liquid form of carbon dioxide that’s safe for dry-clean-only garments. Carbon dioxide is the same chemical that makes the bubbles in your soda, so it’s completely safe. Thanks to modern research, more dry cleaners are seeing the need to switch over to a safer alternative from perc. It’s now up to consumers to make sure that the services they use are keeping up with the times.