Dry cleaning usually uses chlorinated solvents as detergents, the main one being PCE (perchloroethylene). This harsh chemical has been widely associated with damage to the environment and also poses risks for general health and safety. It has also been linked to increased incidences of cancer in dry-cleaning staff, and higher concentrations are found to affect air quality around dry-cleaning establishments.
Alternative options for ‘dry clean only’ garments:
This works by taking the gas form of carbon dioxide and pressurizing it into a clear liquid. Then, soap and clothing are added to the pressurized liquid as in a traditional dry cleaning machine. It is thought to be highly effective in removing stains, however, CO2 machines are very expensive to install and so it is not yet a widely available service in the UK. CO2 has a very low environmental impact and is almost entirely non-toxic
This is a non-toxic, environmentally safe alternative to dry cleaning. It utilizes computer-controlled washing machines, biodegradable soaps and conditioners, and finishes the drying process by using special moisture sensitive dryers. Wet cleaning is not the same as laundry, and is perfect for using on any garment such as: silk, cashmere, woollens, and other fine delicates. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), wet cleaning is the safest professional method of garment cleaning.
This process uses liquid silicone in place of petrochemicals. Essentially liquefied sand, silicone is non-hazardous and non-toxic to the environment. When released to the environment, it safely breaks down into the three natural elements it is made from: sand (SiO2) and trace amounts of water and carbon dioxide. Which means it is safe for the air, water and soil. Liquid silicone is commonly found in shampoos and beauty products, so it is safe next to your skin and unlikely to cause irritation. This method is more widely available, as it is costs the same as a machine that uses perchloroethylene, and so is not more expensive to either the dry cleaners, or the customer. It is a method that is safe to use on fragile garments, garments with sequins or crystals, but still offers the same level of cleaning as traditional dry cleaning.
This is most like standard dry cleaning but the process uses solvents such as DF-2000, EcoSolv or Pure Dry. These petroleum-based solvents are less aggressive than perc and require a longer cleaning cycle. They are comparatively more ecologically friendly than perc, however, they are still solvents.