Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Go Green in 2008 ~ "Organic" Dry Cleaning

I know - who gets their clothes dry-cleaned anymore? Somebody must still be doing it, as that is the most likely business to take up shop in any new strip malls built around town. Next to the Starbucks...and Subway Sandwiches.

I kick myself when any garment I bring home has that ominous Dry Clean Only label. Then, it is a matter of evaluating whether it really needs to be dry cleaned. Most often, I say no, and do the cleaning on my own. Honestly, sometimes I forget that the garments should be washed separately, or on gentle, and they get thrown in with everything else. I guess I don't own pieces that I expect to last for decades (which could be viewed as an environmental failing on my part). The main thing I feel I am missing out on is the pressing. Suits are about the only thing I take in now, and we're talking once or twice a year.

I was intrigued when the new crop of Organic dry cleaners popped up. Some have promising signs, like "safe for rainbow trout fishes." The cynical environmentalist in me wasn't too surprised to turn up this type of article. Sadly, the hydrocarbon substitutes to PERC used by most of the new organic or green cleaners does not appear to be that much better in comparison.

In contrast, some of the less common cleaning techniques making an appearance, carbon dioxide cleaning and professional wet cleaning, do appear promising. A CO2 cleaner moved into the strip mall that houses my main grocery store about a year ago. I was probably one of their first customers. Sadly, after just a few months, they went out of business. I was satisfied with their performance. I could see, though, if people were used to their clothes smelling a certain way after cleaning (ah - the fresh smell of PERC), they would think the neutral smell of CO2 cleaned clothes meant they were not cleaned properly. Or perhaps the higher cost of operating this type of facility compared to a traditional dry cleaner was too prohibitive.

There is one more truly green option to try here in Long Beach, a wet cleaner
(Fay Cleaners: 1168 E. Artesia Blvd). It is a bit of a drive, but I would love to support their efforts regardless (with the hopes that their success inspires other cleaners to follow suit). Furthermore, this is not located in the nicest part of town, so it is sorta encouraging that this business is supporting the health of its workers and nearby residents, and not just pandering to BoBos like myself.

~ Whichever type of facility you use, request that they not use bags (the cleaner I go to has a code for this in their computers), or see if they take the bags and hangers back for recycling.

~ Here are some LA sources for C02 and professional wet cleaners.

(Sorry my posts this week have been so impersonal, i.e. not showing pics of my own stuff. I am bedridden with the worst case of the flu I can recall. Of course, the times I am out of bed, I over-do it, which is totally not helping things. Hope to post a few more "in action" shots before the month is up!)


Carrie said...

I just went to my first eco-cleaner the other day to get my son's duvet cleaned. I was surprised how inexpensive it was, plus I know he won't be inhaling scary stuff while he sleeps :) Well, as long as you don't think too hard about what's in the mattress :(

Anonymous said...

I have to look for an eco-cleaner for my next dry cleaning trip. I hate going to the cleaners, but I have this huge, expensive duvet that must be cleaned asap!

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Junie Moon said...

I hope you get over the flu very soon, not a fun thing at all.

Organic dry cleaners is a new thing to me; I've not heard of those before. I only use dry cleaners about once a year for a very few items but I'm going to see if we have any organic cleaning resources here in Tucson.

Anonymous said...

I'm a CO2 cleaner in Kansas City (Hangers Cleaners) and am glad to see the discussion and awareness. You can go to to find CO2 cleaners in your area (if there are any!).

BadBadIvy said...

We *have* to dry clean my husband's work uniform. I'll have to keep a lookout for eco-cleaners in our area since my husband's current cleaner is about to move to Taiwan! Thanks for the info!

Greta said...

i drive a hybrid does that count for eco-friendly =)

Anonymous said...

Our dry cleaning service uses a variety of cleaning methods. Different customers have different preferences, so we have to see to this, however, the machines suggested to be 'environmentally friendly' can not deep clean the harsher stains out as regular dry cleaning can.