Organic Dry Cleaning, what is it?

Many dry cleaners are still using Perchorethylene (PERC) as their primary cleaning solvent.  The National Institute of Environmental Health Science states that: Short-term exposure to PERC can cause adverse health effects on the nervous system that include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, sweating, uncoordination, and unconsciousness. Long-term exposure can cause liver and kidney damage. The International Association for Research on Cancer classifies PERC as a probable carcinogen. PERC also contributes to air pollution and has been found to contaminate water and soil.

In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency passed a law requiring any dry cleaner located in a residential building to phase out PERC by 2020, and last year, the state of California approved a plan that would phase out all California dry cleaners’ use of PERC, which is on their list of toxic air contaminants, by January 2023.

Most dry cleaners likely classify themselves as “organic” if they do not use PERC but there is no regulation on using the term “organic” when it comes to dry cleaning. If a dry cleaner is certified by the International Fabricare Institute as a “Certified Environmental Dry Cleaner,” it means the cleaner has passed a test certifying that they have the knowledge and ability to maintain their facility in an environmentally responsible way but doesn’t actually ban the use of chemicals like PERC.

Basically, there’s no regulation of the term “organic” when applied to dry cleaning, and you really should press the cleaner to reveal exactly what chemicals are being used. Most “organic” or “natural” dry cleaners label themselves as such simply because they’ve stopped using PERC.

Special Thanks to my Mom who has been begging me to research this and post my answer here.


2 thoughts on “Organic Dry Cleaning, what is it?

  1. Mom thanks you – at least I know what to ask when I go to the dry cleaners in my new neighborhood who is advertising that they are now organic, and offering a 30% discount to try them. I really appreciate your research on this for me.

  2. This is a question that needs to be asked over and over until everyone has a full understaning of the term. Recently, many dry cleaners hace adopted the term as a marketing strategy. They do so discrediting more reputable environmentally concerned dry cleaners and against the advice of the National Cleaners Association.
    Usuall an “organic dry cleaner” has switched from the toxic synthetic petroleum distillate Perchorethylene to the toxic synthetic petroleum distillateIsoparaffin Hydrocarbon. Ity is very similar to Perc in nearly every way including cleaning ability – that’s why dry cleaner’s willing switch to it.
    It is just as toxic, just as hazardous a material when it comes to disposing of it, and just as risky to the wearer of clothes that have been cleaned in it.
    To be safe when dry cleaning look for a dry cleaner that uses one of the following cleaning processes:
    Wet Cleaning – uses water to clean ‘dry clean only’ garments; also considered the safest method of cleaniong available today
    GreenEarth Dry Cleaning – uses silicone, having been discovered in a cosmetics factory, it is the same ingredient as used in many deodorants and other personal care items. Non-toxic, bio-degradable, odorless, softening traits. It is the preferred safe alternative by dry cleaners who have commited themselves to being”green.”
    CO2 – uses carbon dioxide gas to clean. it is safe and good for the environment but expensive for the dry cleaner to install.
    Solvair – Not to be confused with CO2, Solvair uses proplylene Glycol ether to clean and CO2 to rinse. It is new on the market and the test results are all not back yet however, it looks to be a safe alternative for the environmentally concerned and possibly also for the dhealth concerned.

    Look for a “Green” cleaner and when you find one make sure to ASK QUESTIONS that you should ask to be satisfied you are using a cleaner that isgood for you and for the planet.


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