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With winter coming on and lots of wool jackets that need attention, finding safe dry cleaning methods for those sweaters and coats should be the goal of every green minded individual. Are home dry cleaning kits the answer? Or would it be just be better to buy clothing and fabrics that are washable using only biodegradable soap and water?


A few years back there seemed to be an epidemic of cancer among professional women in my town. Everyone pondered on what might have caused all of these ladies of a similar age to be suffering from this disease. While looking for connections and lifestyle or history, the one thing that popped out was that they all frequently wore business suits that of course had to make visits to the neighborhood dry cleaning service. How could they have known that by taking steps to keep their wardrobe looking good that they would be putting their health at risk? Of course, it never was and never will be proven that their cancers were caused by wearing clothes doused in dry cleaning solvents but I'm entitled to my opinion, right?

Shortly after this time, I can remember reading articles that warned people to let their clothes “air” all while before wearing them. The objective was to allow any remaining fumes from the dry cleaning solvent to dissipate to prevent overexposure. The solvent to which I am referring is called perchloroethylene (or perc for short) which has been linked to various health and environmental problems.


How can busy professional people keep their fine fabrics and woolens looking clean and fresh without poisoning the environment as well as their own bodies? The first step would be to buy clothing that would allow you to exclusively use wet cleaning methods that combines biodegradable soap and water or liquid CO2 which is a non-toxic reusable form of carbon dioxide since these are the only methods that are approved by the Environmental Protection Agency as environmentally friendly alternatives to perc.


My family lived within a stone's throw of a neighborhood dry cleaning service when I was growing up. Long before safe dry cleaning was an issue, I can remember watching people who I considered to be very lucky to be able to afford to have their clothing professionally dry cleaned leaving with their nicely pressed clothes covered in plastic bags stamped with the dry cleaners logo. I can also remember thinking that the biggest danger from dry cleaning was suffocating from accidentally finding yourself with one of those plastic bags over your head! In fact, the warning was actually printed on the plastic bags if I remember correctly. Strangely enough, I can’t recall there being any warning printed on the plastic bags that that the clothes had been drenched in toxic chemicals. Go figure.