Why should you not dry clean?

Your beloved and prized garment, your winter wear with wool or cashmere fabric, your once-in-a-lifetime (wedding, debut, baptism) outfit, your special occasion clothes, your delicate silks or even your branded clothes are too valuable to be just laundered so deserve to be dry cleaned, right?

Do you ever wonder what goes on in dry cleaning? Is it really the best and safest way to clean those garments mentioned?

Here’s the scoop. Imagine your clothes being washed similar to your home washing machine. Now, enlarge the machine and put in a solvent recycling system at the back. However, instead of water, the solvent inside that machine is a chemical called Perchloroethylene, commonly known as “Perc”. It is a volatile liquid used for industries like dry cleaning, degreasing of metal parts, extraction of fats and even dissolving rubber.

 

Perc now has been proven to be dangerous to health in acute inhalation cases causing eye and upper respiratory tract irritation. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classified Perc as a probable carcinogen in 1995. In the US, Perc is one of the ten most common contaminants found in groundwater. Thus, in some US states and most European countries, the use of Perc is already banned because of its toxicity and cancer risks. In 2014, the Environmental Health Perspectives journal reported links that have been found between perc and cancer and characterized the substance as “likely to be carcinogenic to humans,” regardless of how a person came in contact with the chemical.

Dry cleaning has been around for hundreds of years. It was only in 1992 that the Drycleaning industry along with environmentalists, researchers, scientists, and governing bodies recognized the environmental and health impact of the use of Perc and they decided an alternative has to be studied and implemented.

Of all the Perc alternatives made available, only the wet cleaning process has been scientifically proven to be safe, environmentally-friendly and health hazard free since wet cleaning only uses water. When UCLA considered the dry cleaning alternatives impact to human health, environment and ecology, wet cleaning outscored all the other options (Source: UCLA Sustainable Technology & Policy Program, 2011)
Wet cleaning is hands down, the safer alternative, all without losing its cleaning efficacy.

The wet cleaning process was invented and pioneered by two German companies: Miele a washing machine manufacturer and Kreussler, a textile care chemical company. It is a process that uses highly programmable machines with precise control in movement, temperature, moisture and many other parameters. Wet cleaning also uses biodegradable cleaning agents in water that clean the fabric while protecting it in a film that retains the fabric’s shape and luster.

Wet cleaning can clean ‘dry clean only” labeled clothes. Garments made with 100% wool, cashmere, silk, rayon, acetate, and dozens of other fabrics can now be safely treated and finished with this process.

Unlike laundry which also uses water, wet cleaning needs to have the following to be an effective system:

  • highly programmable washers that can precisely determine the movement to reduce force, adjust spin, water, and even temperatures.
  • intelligent dryers that detect moisture in and out of the machine.
  • bio-degradable cleaning solutions that are effective in cleaning the fibers while having the ability to coat the garment fibers for protection.
  • Spotting table and high-efficient stain removers.
  • And finishing equipment such as ironing tables and form finishers to restore the garment back to its proper form

So the long-held belief that only dry cleaning can take care of special garments is now challenged. Indeed, for more than 25 years, wet cleaning has proven itself as an equal if not better alternative to garment care. With the fashion industry realizing the need for a more sensible clothing care system, wet cleaning shines out as a beacon of sustainability. Learn more about your local wet cleaners today.

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