If you are new to going green, you may not realize that dry cleaning your clothing involves the use of a harmful chemical. It’s a big word called Perchloroethylene or we call it PERC for short. This chemical is petroleum based and has shown to cause severe health problems. The International Association for Research on Cancer has labeled it as a ‘probable carcinogen’! EEK! Many dry cleaners are now switching to more green alternatives to dry cleaning.
Some dry cleaners have made the switch to a green alternative which uses a pressurized CO2 process. This process can be more expensive than using PERC. In the long run, however, the cost to your health and the environment are significantly reduced! There are also several ways that you can clean your sensitive fabrics at home.
By cleaning your sensitive fabrics and clothing at home, it will also help with the waste in the landfills such as hangers and platic covers! Home cleaning is a much more environmentally friendly alternative.
Here are a few Green Alternatives to Dry Cleaning
1.) The simplest solution it to just skip buying clothes that need dry cleaning. I don’t know about you, but even before I was actively trying to go green, having to take something to the cleaners was enough to keep from me from purchasing it. I hated the expensive and time it took. Plus, dry clean only items tend to be more expensive! I mean really. You pay more for the item and then if you have to actually pay to have it cleaned, it can be quite expensive! If you already have these items, remember natural fibers can be cleaned at home, even silk and wool. They feel better on your skin, rather than having them dry cleaned.
2.) Hand wash dry clean only items. Fabrics such as wool, angora, cashmere, silk and rayon can be gently hand washed. I have purchased a few things before only to get home and see they were dry clean only. Rather than pay a cleaners fee, I hand washed my items and they came out just fine! To wash your dry clean only items, use a mild soap designed for hand washing. Examples would be Woolite or Castile. There are also several earth-friendly detergents that may be used also. To wash, make sure the water is luke warm, not hot. You should be able to comfortably place your hands in the water.
Fill a sink with warm water, adding a small amount of mild detergent. Soak the garment and then gently slosh, or agitate, around with your hands. Rinse the garment. To make sure you have removed all the detergent, a very small amount of distilled white vinegar can be added in the rinse. This will make sure all the detergent is removed. To dry, lay the garment on a towel. Reshape with your hand and allow to dry.
3.) Garment steamer. After washing and drying, if you find that you have wrinkles, a garment steamer can be used. Fabrics like silk tend to wrinkle after being wet. Additionally, the heat from the steam will kill any bacteria in the clothing.
Clothing doesn’t necessarily have to be washed every time you wear it. Unless you have a visable stain or dirt, most items can be worn several times before they need a cleaning. Try hanging and airing if you feel it needs freshened. You will find that your clothing last a lot longer by not washing after each wear.
Cleaning at home will save you time, money and be more earth friendly! It will eliminate harmful chemicals being put into our soil and water supply, not to mention eliminating your risk of exposure to toxins like PERC! It’s good for you and good for the planet.