Wearing crisp, clean, dry-cleaned clothing looks and feels great but many individuals have avoided dry cleaning their clothes for fear of the chemicals used and what effects they have on their body and the environment.
The most common chemical used by most dry-cleaners is Perchloroethylene, or perc, because it has been the most advanced solvent available to dry cleaners and has been very effective in removing stains and dirt from all common types of fabric. Prior to perc cleaners used petroleum based solvents which were very flammable!
Wearing dry cleaned clothing that was cleaned using perc exposes you to levels of perc that are slightly higher than what is normally found in the outdoor air, but these amounts are not expected to be hazardous to the average person’s health.
So – the basic answer to the question, “Should you worry about wearing dry cleaned clothing”? is “No”, However, you should know that dry cleaners that still use perc to dry clean clothing can contribute to negative effects on the environment.
Even with all the regulations to ensure perc is used responsibly as well as improvements in equipment and operating practices, perc still escapes into the outdoor air, into the ground and into water.
- Perc escapes into the air and can remain in the atmosphere for several weeks before breaking down into other chemicals – some of which are toxic and suspected to deplete the ozone layer.
- Perc can enter the ground from spills, leaky pipes, machine leaks and improperly handled waste. Perc is toxic to plants.
- Although at the end of the cleaning process, perc users must dispose of the cleaning fluid through EPA approved methods, perc can still still seep through the ground and contaminate surface water, groundwater, and potentially drinking water. Small amounts of perc in the water have been shown to be toxic to aquatic animals who can store the chemical in their fatty tissues.
If you’re concerned about the the environment and chemicals used during dry cleaning, ask your dry cleaner if he/she is still using perc. As of 2012 Classic Cleaners became the first and the largest dry cleaner in our market to become perc-free. After converting 100% to the non toxic and biodegradable fluid, System K4 last year we are helping the environment by lowering our energy expenditure while offering superior cleaning. Yes, we have found that this Eco-friendly fluid cleans BETTER than what we were using before! It’s great for the environment but it’s also an amazing cleaner.
We welcome any questions you may have about the safety of our cleaning procedures and invite you to learn more about our Eco-friendly efforts here.