Is organic dry cleaning safe?
You may be noticing organic dry cleaners suddenly popping up in your neighborhood. While the public has begun to catch on to the dangerous chemicals used in conventional dry cleaning, this has given birth to… “organic” dry cleaning.
The term organic conjures up images of purity – if it’s organic, surely it can’t be harmful to you, right? Well, this begets a deeper look!
The term “organic” means any compounds containing carbon, and most things on earth fall into this category…including dangerous chemicals like perc! The dry cleaning industry is largely unregulated, allowing any dry cleaner to slap on an “organic” label even if they are using perc.
Traditional dry cleaning uses (mostly) “perc”**, which is classified as a human carcinogen (by……) . Perc has been linked to an increased risk of cervical and esophageal cancers, lymphoma, vision problems, and Parkinson’s disease.
Not only does perc enter the bloodstream via skin absorption and respiration, but it contaminates our air and water so we are all exposed to some degree. The fact that perc is still legally allowed is mind-blowing!
“So when you see the term “organic” dry cleaners, you may be subject to the same old name game we continue to find being played by the chemical companies at our expense. We call this greenwashing.”
Fortunately, the population is awakening to the scheme of greenwashing, and the demand for truly organic dry cleaners is here.
Organic dry cleaning establishments seem to be moving away from perc. However, you still need to be vigilant and do your homework, as this move away from perc has led to some other sneaky ingredients used in organic dry cleaning.
What are the latest “organic” chemicals being used?
- GreenEarth Cleaning
DF-2000 is a petroleum-based solvent classified as a neurotoxin by the EPA. Although it may be less harmful than perc, it is by no means safe and “organic,” as we would classify it.
GreenEarth Cleaning is a method that relies on D-5 silicone – a technology known as decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (I know, is that even a word?…shockingly, yes).
While silicone is largely regarded as safe and something I recommend, particularly in cookware, there have not been enough studies on D-5 to consider it “safe and effective” yet. Some animal studies suggest that, in large amounts, it may be carcinogenic. However, D-5 is certainly a better option than perc or DDF-2000.
Truly Organic Dry Cleaning
The good news is there are truly organic dry-cleaning methods available, and they are becoming more widely known.
- Liquid CO2 Method – this process is entirely chemical-free! The method converts carbon dioxide to its liquid form and then into a gas. Unfortunately, the equipment required for this method is extremely expensive, so it has not become widely available. Worth noting: If your cleaner uses the Solvair process for CO2 cleaning, it uses Dipropylene Glycol n-Butyl Ether (DPnB) in its cleaning fluid. Although this is not organic, it is not associated with the health concerns of ethylene glycols.
- Professional Wet Cleaning – some dry cleaning establishments have special computerized machines that offer a safe and effective wet cleaning method. It turns out that most “dry clean only” items can be safely cleaned using water and detergent (be aware of what detergent is being used – conventional detergents are full of harmful chemicals).
The Bottom Line
In today’s world, we are inundated by harmful chemicals, which has become a full-time job to navigate. The sneaky chemical companies are constantly changing the names of harmful chemicals so they can hide them in our food, clothing, cleaning products, and virtually every part of our lives they can. I aim to draw attention to this and help you do the homework to make navigating this world less stressful for each of you.
I know how overwhelming it is to feel like nothing is safe, but some great companies have excellent, clean products. For more on this, check out my Greening Your Home Masterclass, where I provide in-depth lists of clean products for everything in your home…including beauty products.
Another excellent resource is my Amazon Store, where you can find many products – from clean food to organic bedding and everything in between. I have so many categories in my amazon store, all designed to make clean shopping stress-free for you. Truly a one-stop shop!
To your health & happiness,
** (perchloroethylene or tetrachloroethylene)