Taking clothes to the dry cleaners can be an eco-nightmare. It’s usually one of the errands people run with a car because no one wants to walk or bike with an armful of dirty clothes; the dry cleaning process itself uses tons of chemicals; then it gets handed back on useless wire hangers with paper sleeves and all that plastic wrap over top.
A lot of clothing items with a “dry clean only” label on them can actually be handwashed, but I’ve also lost more than a few ridiculously expensive cashmere sweaters that way, too, so I prefer to just do what the label tells me. But I’ve officially switched to New Way Cleaners, a company by my parents’ house that’s been around since 1936 and perc-free for a couple years now.
Perc, short for perchloroethylene, is most often the main solvent used in dry cleaning. It has also been declared toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act and been shown to cause cancer in animals when exposed to amounts only just above the legal workplace limit.
So when they found out about these carcinogenic effects, the company stayed true to its name and searched for a new way to dry clean. It invested in all-new machines and non-toxic detergent, which is fully biodegradable and overall gentler both on clothes and skin.
Fortunately, I don’t own many things that need dry cleaning anyway (the shrunken cashmere sweaters pretty much scarred me for life). And I think when I head back next time I’m going to ask if they can put my clothes on the side so I’m not stuck with all the stupid hangers and saran wrap.