Summary: If we must dryclean

I don’t dryclean clothes often, but after an entire winter’s worth of run-ins with mud and soup, my coat needed a bath. A few alternatives to the perc-full traditional dry cleaners now exist, and the two most discussed are the Greenearth franchise and “wet cleaners”.

Wet cleaning is a real thing, and if you want to know more about it, read the wikipedia article. I couldn’t find any locations in the area that do this kind of cleaning because there aren’t many places that do. It involves possibly deconstructing clothing, washing it carefully in biodegradable solvents, then maybe reconstructing it. Most “dry clean only” clothing actually can be cleaned in water and soaps, very very carefully. With computers. Still, hard to find a place that does it, and I don’t know any geishas (read the article), so I looked into the Greenearth people.

Greenearth cleaning uses a silicon based solvent that, in very very high concentrations, causes cancer in lab rats. The same chemical is also found in many personal care products, like shampoo, and has been very widely used for about 30 years, and no studies have definitively linked it with people cancer. NPR reported on the cancer findings, but several other reports dismissed the link with assertations and even some science. Whatever the health effects it’s generally agreed that the chemical is less harmfull than perc- making it easier to get approval to use it on location and cheaper to clean up for franchise owners- plus by all reports the Greenearth process is gentler on clothing and doesn’t have a telltale smell. More importantly, stores that do this actually exist in the greater DC area. It appears their franchises are springing up everywhere- they have a pickup service in Kingstowne, Springfield, a branch on North Quaker in Alexandria, presence in Arlington on Washington Blvd, and locations in Bowie MD and Silver Spring MD. The storefront on North Quaker is large and very professional- looking, with uniformed staff and lots of signs posted about safety processes and environmental credits. Prices range from fine to really good- less that 20$ for my long cashmere-blend coat. Shirts are $2.70, according to a sign. No other prices were posted. While they did swathe my clothing in plastic upon return, they didn’t give me all-new hangers, so that was a nice little conservationist “perk.” Har.

My clothes smell nice and look good- all the unscientific tests say that Greenearth treats your clothes much better than normal drycleaners- and the prices seemed ok to me. If you’re balking at paying more for shirts, consider that the shirts will probably last longer with the Greenearth people.

4 Responses to “Summary: If we must dryclean”

  1. 1 Bill September 26, 2007 at 6:40 pm

    I just read your blog. Nice. I believe that there is a wet cleaner in the Alexandria area who has a delivery service only. I’m sorry that I cannot remember the name.

    My business is a 100% Wet Cleaners. Meaning we are able process virtually all “dry clean only” items. The ArticleWorld piece noted on your blog is a bit out of date with respect to what most cleaners estimate they can wet clean. 60-80% is the figure most often quoted.

    The few items we cannot clean well are 90% due to colorfastness in water issues. These tend to be vivid red, blue and purple hues. We test likely “bleeders” in a inconspicuous place before we wet clean them. The remainder range from hand made items, pieces bought outside normal retailers or without care labels, and knock-offs/counterfits (Didn’t you wonder why they were so cheap?).

    Keep pestering your dry cleaners to change to wet cleaning! Sooner or later they’ll all have to change from perc because of their landlords ond/or legislation. Find one now that will change because it is the right thing to do.

    Pester Away!

  2. 2 virescent September 26, 2007 at 11:11 pm

    Thanks for the tips! All the wet/dry cleaning methods I found had different environmental drawbacks, be they chemicals or water used- it sounds like wet cleaning could be tweaked to use very little water, but all these technologies are very much in flux. Let me know if you remember the wet cleaning service, and I’ll check it out too (next year, when I have two or three things to professionally clean again…)

  3. 3 Cameron September 27, 2007 at 10:39 am

    Check out the web link to a company called “Method”! They are about green cleaning and they are based out of Cali (the greenest state EVER!!!)! I might even have this guy flown into NYC and give a talk at RU and Columbia! I’ll let you know! Great website! I’ll add it to my list of blogs I check!



  1. 1 Showing off « Virescent Trackback on March 16, 2008 at 8:22 pm

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