Alternatives to dry cleaning

Info Guru, Catalogs.com

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Dry cleaning the traditional way is not eco-friendly
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Alternatives to dry cleaning include using Co2 and other laundering methods

Many people can't afford to pay for dry cleaning so they shouldn't buy clothing requiring it. However, at times a person goofs and doesn't realize until after the fact the new dress she just bought can't be washed in the machine or hand-washed. What are alternatives to dry cleaning?

Kits are available for use at home, assimilating the dry cleaning process, such as Clorox as Fresh Care or Dryel by P&G.

Before using Dryel, pre-treat existing stains on the clothing. Put the articles of clothing in the protection bag that comes in the kit along with the moist cleaning cloths. Close the bag and put it in a medium heat dryer for half hour. A steam environment develops into the bag, removing odors and wrinkles. The clothing is damp upon removal. Hang it up so it will dry and not wrinkle.

Although not completely chemical free and not capable of producing professional quality results, Dryel and other similar products do an acceptable job.

Other options

Attempt washing the garment in the washing machine on gentle cycle and see what happens. If the item is pricy you may not want to do this in case the experiment doesn't work out.

Try steaming the clothing. Get a hand-held steamer and use it. This takes out wrinkles, removes light soil and odors.

Green cleaners

One reason to avoid dry cleaning, other than the expense, is because it's not considered eco-friendly. The fluids used in the process contaminate ground water. 

Locate a progressive or green cleaner that provides non-perc dry cleaning. Perc is short for tetrachloroethylene. You are familiar with the smell perc produces if you have ever had clothes dry cleaned.

Perc is the vigorous component in dry cleaning solvent. It creates environmental issues and is a known carcinogen, causing cancer. Because of its make-up, perc does not break down when dumped or spilled into sewage lines. It taints ground water. It is not bio-degradable.

Alternatives to perc include GreenEarth cleaning, which entails silicone-based cleaners. There is also high pressure cleaning, utilizing liquid carbon dioxide (Co2), as well as high-tech computer-controlled wet washing.

Consumer Reports (CR) found liquid Co2 performs in a superior manner to perc; however, CR wasn't pleased with the outcome from wet washing, reporting that Co2 did a better job than the GreenEarth silicone method.

Carbon dioxide (Co2) is environmentally friendly when used in the cleaning process. It is effective at removing stains and is much safer than perc. When this process is used, soap and clothing are put into Co2 that has been pressurized into clear liquid. When the Co2 method is used, clothing doesn't stretch, shrink or lose its shape.

Liquid Co2 is not toxic or flammable so it doesn't create the health hazards that petrochemical solvents do. It does not contribute to global arming.

Wet cleaning involves using mild detergents and water. This is safe. No hazardous chemicals are used. No toxic waste or air pollution is generated and the potential for water- and soil contamination is significantly reduced. Some cleaners opt for the wet cleaning method because it is more affordable and far more eco-friendly than the old method.

Unfortunately, some cleaners cannot afford to switch to the alternative and safer methods because they can't afford the initial investment required. Purchasing carbon dioxide technology is expensive. The machines can cost up to five times the amount that standard dry cleaning equipment costs.

If a cleaner desires to switch to a 'greener' method of production there may be government grant money available to help the owner with the prohibitive transition costs.


When shopping for clothing, regularly check the labels inside the clothing determining if it must be professionally cleaned. If it is dry clean only and you don't want to bother with this or pay for cleaning, put the article back on the rack and walk away.

Those materials that require professional cleaning are acetate; linen (although it can be hand-washed); rayon, suede and wool. Microfiber can be washed at home or sent out as can polyolefin.

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