My greener dry cleaner (Day 90)…


Taking clothes to the dry cleaners can be an eco-nightmare. It’s usually one of the errands people run with a car because no one wants to walk or bike with an armful of dirty clothes; the dry cleaning process itself uses tons of chemicals; then it gets handed back on useless wire hangers with paper sleeves and all that plastic wrap over top.

A lot of clothing items with a “dry clean only” label on them can actually be handwashed, but I’ve also lost more than a few ridiculously expensive cashmere sweaters that way, too, so I prefer to just do what the label tells me. But I’ve officially switched to New Way Cleaners, a company by my parents’ house that’s been around since 1936 and perc-free for a couple years now.

Perc, short for perchloroethylene, is most often the main solvent used in dry cleaning. It has also been declared toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and been shown to cause cancer in animals when exposed to amounts only just above the legal workplace limit.

So when they found out about these carcinogenic effects, the company stayed true to its name and searched for a new way to dry clean. It invested in all-new machines and non-toxic detergent, which is fully biodegradable and overall gentler both on clothes and skin.

Fortunately, I don’t own many things that need dry cleaning anyway (the shrunken cashmere sweaters pretty much scarred me for life). And I think when I head back next time I’m going to ask if they can put my clothes on the side so I’m not stuck with all the stupid hangers and saran wrap.

9 Responses to My greener dry cleaner (Day 90)…

  1. pat farquharson says:

    They take back the hangers- we always return them. You only need the plastic if its raining.

  2. Lori V. says:

    Oh, how I wish we had a greener cleaner nearby… welcome to the great state of denial… err, Texas! 😛

  3. Nickelking says:

    Kudos to them for living up to their name!!

  4. GreenYogini says:

    I know a woman who washes all her sweaters – including her good Irish fisherman sweaters – instead of taking them to the dry cleaner. I haven’t gotten that brave yet, but I’m pretty close. I’m washing everything but sweaters (and I wear shirts under my sweaters so I don’t feel the need to clean them as often),, either in the machine or by hand. The woman who washes her wool sweaters tells me that there’s something she adds so they preserve their elasticity – is it vinegar? I can’t remember. The key is to hand wash them in cold water with a very mild detergent, to soak them without agitating them much (which is a major factor in shrinkage), and to hang them dry or dry them on a rack. I empathize with your fear about the cashmere, though – I’m afraid to wash my favorite sweater in this manner. (Oh, btw…some types of cashmere aren’t all that eco-friendly from what I hear…)

  5. Lori V. says:

    I do wash all my sweaters and I use the Dryel home “dry cleaning” cloths. The only thing we really ever dry clean nowadays are hubby’s dress shirts, b/c I’m completely incapable of starching/ironing a decent shirt!

  6. Reden says:

    i dont know about dry cleaners, but I wrote about a self-propelled washer here.

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