Dry cleaning dirties the planet--switch to wet cleaning | Queen of Green | David Suzuki Foundation
Photo: Dry cleaning dirties the planet--switch to wet cleaning

Switch from dry cleaning to non-toxic wet cleaning! (Credit: Pure and Applied via Flickr)

Knowing that my homemade laundry detergent is eco-friendly is comforting. But some stuff—like my winter coat—is labelled "dry clean only." It's too heavy to wash by hand and I don't want to wreck it in my machine. So I quizzed Robert, owner of Village Cleaners, about dry cleaning's greener cousin—wet cleaning!

What is wet cleaning?

Wet cleaning uses environmentally-friendly, 100 per cent biodegradable soaps and conditioners to remove tough stains and treat "dry clean only" items without harmful solvents. State-of-the-art machines allow for flexibility and precision in the water temperature, agitation, and amount of detergent—the best options for stain removal and fabric care. Gentle detergents, a process that measures the humidity during the drying process, and finishing machines for pressing means less stress on garments, reduced energy and water use, and no toxic ingredients.

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Is wet cleaning more expensive than dry cleaning?

No. It will cost about $22 to clean a dress. And it's less costly to the environment—no air, water, or soil pollution.

What are the benefits of wet cleaning?

Dry cleaning dirties the planet with harmful chemicals released into the air (including in your home), water, and soil that are toxic to aquatic animals and humans. The active chemical, perchloroethylene (PERC), is a known neurotoxin and carcinogen, and can skin cause irritation and redness. (Ever feel itchy after your clothes were dry cleaned?)

No surprise that harsh chemicals also deteriorate fabric over time. Wet cleaning is safer for all fabrics, including delicates like silk, chiffon, and lace. (Green brides, take note: wet cleaning works for wedding gowns!)

Studies show that wet cleaning removes all stains as well as dry cleaning but is actually more effective for certain problem spills, like red wine. Village Cleaners' Klenz Sanitation machine also disinfects items like handbags, shoes, and stuffed animals in only eight minutes.

Don't forget about the people doing your cleaning! Do you want your clothes washed in a solution that isn't safe for employees to put their hands in? A workplace without harsh chemicals is better for everyone.

Where can I find a wet cleaner?

Wet cleaning has been slow to take off in Canada but check your neighbourhood. Village Cleaners (@VillageCleaners) is the fourth Miele Certified Wetcare Professional in Canada—find other locations in Alberta, B.C., Ontario and Quebec.

Will you commit to switching from dry cleaning to safer, non-toxic wet cleaning?

Sincerely,
Lindsay Coulter, Queen of Green

January 5, 2012
http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/queen-of-green/2012/01/dry-cleaning-dirties-the-planet--switch-to-wet-cleaning/

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5 Comments

Jun 17, 2013
10:47 AM

I have definitely made the switch to wet cleaning for myself, my family and the planet. Thanks for the handy link, led me to the only Miele certified dry cleaner in my area and they’re no further away than my traditional dry cleaner. Very happy!

Feb 07, 2012
10:25 AM

i have steam on my dryer and i use it on all my dryclean only items. Haven't been to the drycleaners in years. works good.

Jan 17, 2012
1:36 PM

@Christine: You can clean anything wool using a wool soak detergent, which you can purchase at most yarn stores. The process varies a little depending on the brand you buy, but in general you soak your wools in diluted detergent, without agitating at all, then rinse. This gets your clothes clean without shrinking or felting.

And I'm also in an area without any wet cleaners :(

Jan 09, 2012
6:17 AM

I had never heard of this — wish there was a wet cleaner near me! But I am interested in knowing what fabrics might be OK to just hand wash — I have some wool skirts that are "dry clean only" and wondered why I can't just hand wash in cold water?

Jan 06, 2012
6:59 AM

There is recently available a non-toxic, biodegradable dry cleaning process called K4. See www.systemk4.com Wet cleaning is not the complete answer.
Some garments will clean better by dry cleaning, some by wet cleaning. Take your garments to someone who can provide both.

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