ecomii - a better way
May 23, 2018  |  Login

Choose Green Dry Cleaning

Choosing a cleaner who uses wet or liquid carbon dioxide cleaning limits the amount of toxins released into the environment

  Email This Tip  | Back to All Tips

What are Ratings?
Impact ecomii tips impactecomii tips impact
Health ecomii tips healthecomii tips healthecomii tips health
Savings ecomii tips savings
Ease ecomii tips easeecomii tips easeecomii tips ease
Taking your delicates to a professional dry cleaner can be damaging to the environment, your dry-cleaners, and your home. Most professional dry cleaners use a chemical called perchloroethylene (or perc) as a solvent in the dry cleaning process. Human contact with perc can depress the central nervous system, causing headaches, dizziness, nausea, and skin or respiratory irritation. Continued exposure to perc can be harmful to dry cleaners (who are exposed to the chemical day-in and day-out) and also presents a danger to the environment because the toxic remains from the dry cleaning process can run off into the air, water, and soil. Perc remains in clothing after dry cleaning, and can lead to heighten levels of the toxin in the home, putting you and your family in danger.

There are many alternatives, however, and you don’t have to sacrifice ease or cleanliness. You can hand-wash most delicate garments, as long as you are careful. If you prefer the meticulous cleaning of a professional, opt for a dry cleaner who uses either professional wet cleaning or liquid carbon dioxide cleaning. Professional wet cleaners use water as a solvent, along with soaps, conditioners, and detailed knowledge of stains’ pH levels to clean your clothing. Liquid carbon dioxide cleaning uses pressurized carbon dioxide to dissolve stains, but the costs of buying a carbon dioxide cleaning machine is high, so these facilities are not always easy to find. Both these techniques are completely non-toxic and eliminate the health and safety risks associated with perc. Many cleaners are switching over to wet cleaning and carbon dioxide cleaning, especially as states are passing legislation to phase out the use of perchloroethylene.


Take Action / Next Steps
  • Ready to switch to a green dry cleaner? Sign up for the goal on ecomii Action and track your progress.
  • See if your local dry cleaner is eco-friendly, or find a Green cleaner in your area with Occidental College Urban and Environmental Policy Institute’s Directory of Green Cleaners


Prev Tip Next Tip
Did You Know?

Click below for more facts about this tip.



1. Consumer Reports Greener Choices. [October 2006] Dry Cleaning Alternatives. Available from: [16 June 2008]

2. Co-op America. [September 2007] Green “Dry” Cleaning. Available from: [16 June 2008]

3. Consumer Reports Greener Choices. [October 2006] Dry Cleaning Alternatives. Available from: [16 June 2008]

ecomii featured poll

Vote for your Favorite Charity



ecomii resources
ecomii Tips Newsletter 

Sign up today to receive a weekly tip for living greener

Get in Touch

Got suggestions? Want to write for us? See something we could improve? Let us know!