Would you dare wash a “Dry Clean Only” silk top at home and risk ruining the texture or shrinking it beyond recognition?
You might be surprised, but there are exceptions to the “Dry Clean Only” rule on clothing labels. Here are two common misconceptions about dry cleaning and tips on how you can clean your cashmeres, wools, parkas and other garments the greener way.
Misconception #1: Dry cleaning is safe for my health and the environment
Despite being identified as one of the “highest concern” substances for public health in Toronto, qualified as “probably carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer, and “likely a human carcinogen” by the United States Environmental Protection Agency, tetrachloroethylene (most commonly known as PERC) is the most widely used chemical solvent in dry cleaning in Canada nearly 30 tonnes are used at dry cleaners in Toronto alone per year.
PERC has been used for ages, and it also sticks around for ages – creating hazardous waste, polluting the soil, contaminating water, and posing serious health risks to all the people who handle it. Any residue that remains in clothes can get trapped in the fabric, especially if the garments are covered in plastic bags.
The good news is that a safe, effective, and non-toxic alternative to dry cleaning exists: professional wet cleaning.
Wet cleaning uses a water-based solution made of natural soaps and conditioners in computer-controlled washers and dryers. This method of garment care is completely non-toxic to human health and the environment, and uses less electricity than traditional dry cleaning. (Live in Toronto? Find the closest wet cleaner to you).
Misconception #2: If the label says “Dry Clean Only” that means I should only dry clean
We often find “Dry Clean Only” clothing labels on our most delicate garments, winter jackets, and suits. But this label is often misused and is there to protect clothing manufacturers if something goes wrong when you machine wash your garments. Today, one in three consumers avoid purchasing garments labelled “Dry Clean Only” because of the hassle of going to the cleaners.
If you’re not sure you can toss your delicates in the wash, head to your closest wet cleaner to wash your garments the non-toxic way. Wet cleaners are highly educated on fabric care and your clothing won’t come back smelling like chemicals. We recently visited a wet cleaning facility and saw the process ourselves:
We are also working with the fashion industry in Toronto to promote wet cleaning to their customers, and eventually change clothing labels from “Dry Clean Only” to “Professional Wet Clean.” This clothing label switch is popular in Europe and is slowly making its way to North America.
Here’s what you can do:
- Download our Non-Toxic Dry Cleaning Guide to find out some handy info and tips on how to avoid nasty dry cleaning chemicals – even those that claim to be “green” or “organic”.
- Avoid PERC and its’ nasty alternatives by switching to professional wet cleaning. If you live in Toronto, the good news is that more wet cleaners are popping up around the city – find the one closest to you!