Dry cleaning uses a harmful chemical called Perchloroethylene or PERC, for short. This chemical is petroleum based and has shown to cause severe health problems. It’s been labeled a probable carcinogen” by the International Association for Research on Cancer. While many dry cleaners are switching to more green alternatives.
One such green alternative is using a pressurized CO2 process. It can be more expensive than using PERC however, the cost to your health and the environment are significantly reduced. You can also take significant steps to clean your sensitive fabrics at home.
This eliminates the need for plastic or wire hangers which often end up in the landfill. It also eliminates the need for plastic covers to keep your clothing clean. Again these plastic covers usually end up in the garbage. Home cleaning is much more environmentally friendly.
- Skip buying clothes that need dry cleaning. Yes, it’s a simple solution however it’s also an effective one. Dry cleaning is expensive, time consuming and the clothes tend to cost more money too. Natural fibers can be cleaned at home, even silk and wool, and they feel better on your skin.
- Hand wash. Wool, cashmere, angora, and even silk and rayon can be gently hand washed. Use a mild soap designed for hand washing. Woolite or Castile are both still effective and there are earth friendly detergents too. Make sure the water is warm, not hot. You should be able to comfortably place your hands in the water.
Fill a sink with warm water, approximately 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Use the mild detergent. Allow the garment to soak. Gently agitate with your hands. Then rinse the garment. Experts recommend adding a bit of distilled white vinegar to the rinse water. Reshape and dry flat on a towel placed on a flat surface. If you’re washing silk the water can be a touch warmer – 115° F.
- Garment steamer and other accessories. With silk and other items that will wrinkle when they are dry, use a garment steamer to remove the wrinkles. Additionally, the heat from the steam will kill bacteria. A linen brush or a soft bristled brush can be used for some items to brush away any debris or caked on mess. If there’s no stain left behind or no sign of dirt a steamer can finish the job. There’s not always a need to wash something with soap and water.
Also remember that clothing doesn’t need to be washed every time you wear it. Unless there’s a stain or visible dirt most items can be worn several times before they need a cleaning. It helps the clothing last longer.
Cleaning at home saves you time, money and the environment. You eliminate harmful chemicals from being put into our soil and water supply. You also eliminate the risk of exposure to toxins like PERC. It’s good for you and it’s good for the planet.