Environmentally Friendly Dry Cleaners
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Most traditional dry cleaners (approximately 85%) use a chemical called perchloroethylene (PERC) as a solvent in the dry cleaning process. According to an article by The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) PERC is a dangerous chemical because it can get into our air, water, and soil during the dry-cleaning process. PERC is a VOC (volatile organic compound) that causes distressing side effects even with minimal exposure, such as, headaches, nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, skin irritation and respiratory inflammation. Extended exposure has been linked to kidney and liver injury, as well as, cancer. You don't need to work at the dry cleaners to be affected, because residual amounts of PERC remain on your garments when you bring them home.
Thankfully many dry cleaners are switching over to safer "green" cleaning methods. However not all cleaning methods called "green" are truly environmentally friendly. The "organic" dry cleaning solution DF-2000 used in Hydrocarbon Cleaning is really made from petroleum. While not as toxic as PERC, hydrocarbon is still a VOC.
Wet Cleaning — uses, surprise! water, and computer operated washers and dryers that clean the clothing with special mild detergents (that are actually milder than home products). The clothes are then finished with professional pressing equipment.
CO2 Cleaning — uses non-toxic liquid CO2 (used to carbonate sodas). A special machine removes the air and injects the CO2. This process uses less energy than traditional dry cleaning because it takes less time— about 5 to 15 minutes— and is done without heat.
Of course the most environmentally safe method for dealing with your "dry clean only" clothes is to hand wash them. Most "dry clean only" clothes can be washed at home by hand or on your machine's hand wash or gentle cycle. Before you throw your delicates into the washer, check out Annie B. Bond's article on how to Wet-Wash Wool & Silk and Skip Dry-Cleaning Chemicals.
Local Green Dry Cleaners
Pure Elegance Cleaners
Registered on the EPA's list of qualified "green dry-cleaners" Pure Elegance exclusively uses the Wet Cleaning method and GreenEarth dry cleaning— non-toxic liquid silicone, a gentle solution made from silica, or sand. Michael from Pure Elegance says, "If you were to spill it on the ground it would biodegrade to sand." Pure Elegance takes their environmentally friendly stance even further by recycling metal hangers and offering reusable plastic hangers. They use Eco-Green biodegradable plastic garment bags and are now selling Green Garmento bags— it's a reusable laundry bag that converts into a garment bag! Pure Elegance also offers laundry, tailoring/alterations and leather cleaning services. You can sign up for their pick up and delivery services, too. Located in Westport, Trumbull and Stamford.
Mario's Professional Dry Cleaning
Use three different cleaning processes. The most environmentally friendly being Wet Cleaning which they switched to about 3 years ago and now use most often. The second process is a water spray system (instead of immersion with wet cleaning) with DWX44 a "dry-wet cleaning solution". It leaves no harmful residue on clothing and is biodegradable. Lastly, if their are oil stains, they use the Hydrocarbon process. Which isn't the best as far as being "green" goes, but it is biodegradable and a much safer option than perc (which they do not use). Mario says, "if we can't get a stain out the only thing that'll do it is a pair of scissors." His attention to detail, service and fantastic pricing have customers flocking to his store. In addition to quality cleaning, they also offer fine tailoring of men's and women's clothing. Their Commercial and Residential pick up and delivery options will save you time and hassle. Here's a great tip from Mario, "Men's shirts have a wash cycle of 30-35 washes if you starch them. A man should have at least 2 weeks worth of shirts to rotate" to prolong their lifespan. 2 locations in Stamford.
Go Green Dry Cleaners
Exclusively use the GreenEarth dry cleaning process. Their services include on site tailoring, hand finished pressing, household items, wedding gowns, preservation, fine shirt laundry, pick-up and delivery, leathers & suedes, and wash & fold. 2 locations in Stamford.
Dry Cleaner's Advice
Should we pre-treat stains at home?
NO. Please don't touch the stain because the water often makes the stain worse. Cleaners use suction, steam and high pressure air with cleaning solutions to remove stains.
Does it matter if the stains are old?
Get your stained clothes to the cleaners as soon as possible for best results.
Is it helpful to know what the stain is from?
YES. Tell your cleaner what the stain is from— butter, cream, dirt, grease, etc. So they know what solution to use to remove the stain.
Are any stains are hopelessly irreversible?
The worst stains come from oils and won't come out at home. We have to use special "oil eating" solutions to remove those stains.