When people tell me, “be sure to air out your dry cleaning before bringing it into your house,” several questions come to mind.
If I have to air out clothes following dry cleaning, how can I feel safe wearing them?
And how toxic are the products my dry cleaner uses?
Lately, I’ve been receiving more advice – If you can smell chemicals on your “clean” clothes, choose another dry cleaner.
Let’s face it: The dry-cleaning industry, as a whole, does not have a great environmental reputation, what with the chemicals used in the cleaning process, not to mention the voluminous plastic bags and the endless tangles of wire hangers associated with clean clothes.
But some dry cleaners are taking action to clean up their image, and at least one neighborhood dry cleaner is addressing the issue head-on.
The first thing you notice when visiting Our Cleaner World, 6611 Abrams at Skillman, is the lack of odor typical of dry cleaning establishments. You can rest assured your clothes won’t smell, either.
Neighborhood residents and owners Bill and Cheri Flynn say their goal is to be a “true and total green cleaners,” and their dedication is evident.
Cloth bags – instead of plastic – are available for a small fee, which is reimbursed in dry-cleaning coupons. Clean clothes leave in the cloth bag, which converts into a laundry bag at home – ready to be filled for a return trip
And for those who prefer plastic bags, Our Cleaner World’s are made from recycled material, and a collection box is available for recycling. Also recycled are hangers and safety pins.
The Flynns plan to market private-label, non-toxic household products such as laundry detergent, fabric softener, bleach, scouring powder, dishwasher detergent and general household cleanser. In fact, the Flynns use ecologically safe products in their business so if you want to make the best use of them make sure to visit appliancereviewer.co.uk and compare between various appliances on their site to find the best new one for you.
Virtually all dry cleaners use the same cleaning solvent as part of the cleaning process. Environmentally sensitive cleaners, such as Our Cleaner World, have installed dry-cleaning equipment with a computerized extraction process to recycle as much solvent as possible.
According to John Faulkner, president of the Texas Laundry and Dry Cleaning Association and owner of Faulkner’s Cleaners and Lakewood Top Hat, maintaining an environmentally friendly cleaning establishment takes a tremendous amount of money and effort – money to install and effort to maintain the extraction equipment.
Many cleaners choose not to spend the time or money to take this extra environmental step.
Dry cleaners have been reclaiming solvent since the 1950s, Faulkner says. Properly reclaimed solvent should be filtered and distilled daily to remove impurities, which is a time-consuming process, he says. In the distillation process, expensive detergent and sizing are lost, along with the impurities, making this an expensive endeavor.
It’s OK to use reclaimed solvent; most dry cleaners do. But the better the extraction process, the cleaner your clothes.
When your dry cleaning has an obvious odor, you aren’t smelling the solvent. Instead, you are noticing impurities remaining in the reclaimed solvent. Dirty solvent also can discolor your clothes.
To properly care for your clothes and the environment, dry cleaners should use a good extraction and distillation process. If your clothes need to be aired out after they have been “cleaned,” maybe it’s time to take your business elsewhere.