The American Lung Association reports that California is one of the most polluted states in the United States. Traffic, wildfires, and factories are among the state’s contributors to air pollution. To create a safer environment, California is encouraging green dry cleaning methods.
Green vs. traditional dry cleaning
Traditional dry cleaning heavily relies on a chemical called Perchloroethylene (PERC). The chemical creates toxic waste that can pollute the water, soil and air.
Exposure to PERC can increase the risk of cancer, neurological problems, kidney and liver damage, respiratory problems and reproductive issues.
Dry cleaners sometimes deal with environmental law issues because of chemicals used during dry cleaning. Green dry cleaning offers a way for dry cleaners and their customers to help improve the environment.
Green dry cleaning uses solvents that are safer than PERC. These solvents usually consist of mineral-based or plant-based materials. Plant-based and mineral-based products are generally safe for the environment and less harmful to humans.
Methods of green dry cleaning
There’s more than one way to do green dry cleaning. Wet cleaning involves combining water with biodegradable soap. It’s similar to washing clothes at home, except the soap is less harsh than detergents you’d purchase at the store.
Liquid carbon dioxide cleaning is another green dry cleaning method. The dry cleaner uses carbon dioxide, which melts away stains, dirt and oil. Some people believe that carbon dioxide contributes to global warming; however, the liquid version of carbon dioxide is reusable and doesn’t contribute to ozone depletion.
Regulations approved by The California Air Resources Board have phased out the use of PERC for dry cleaning purposes. As of January 2023, dry cleaners aren’t allowed to use the chemical.