The garment cleaning and dry cleaning industry is on the brink of sweeping change due to the public’s growing concern with the environmental hazards of many traditional cleaning processes.
Traditional Dry Cleaning
Dry cleaning has been around for decades now and is the largest user of perchloroethylene (PERC), a colorless nonflammable liquid. Perchloroethylene breaks down chemicals and evaporates when exposed to air, thus making it an excellent choice for cleaning organic fabrics.
The chemical, however, is a major threat to human beings, especially those who are in contact with PERC. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recognized the effects of inhaling and coming into contact with PERC has on an individual and the environment. If PERC comes into contact directly with skin, it breaks through the fat cells and can cause irritation. Even just inhaling the air around PERC can lead to liver and kidney damage in humans. Repeat exposure to PERC may even cause cancer.
The public backlash against the use of PERC in dry cleaning has forced the industry to seek out more environmentally friendly alternatives.