Green and Clean: Tide Cleaner's Eco-Friendly Laundry Solution
If you’re like many people today, you try to be conscious of your own environmental impact in several different areas of your life. That may mean recycling plastic, cardboard, and glass or going grocery shopping with your own reusable bags. Maybe you buy cruelty-free toiletries or make it a point to take public transportation or walk when possible. Maybe you donate to environmental causes or volunteer with conservation groups.
Have you ever thought about how your laundry might impact the environment?
Clean laundry is a necessity, of course. Whether you’re at work or working on saving the world in your spare time, you want to look your best while doing it. That means that you not only need nice clothes, but you need regular dry cleaning services to keep your favorite blouses and suits looking their best.
What you may not know is that a common dry-cleaning chemical is also a toxic pollutant. Take a look at what you need to know about the chemicals used in dry cleaning and how you can get clean clothes in an eco-friendly manner.
What You Need to Know About Perchloroethylene
Have you ever wondered how dry cleaners get the stains out? Dry cleaning isn’t actually dry; it just doesn’t use water. Instead, dry cleaning companies use some type of solvent to clean the clothes. One commonly used dry cleaning solvent is called perchloroethylene, or “perc”. Perc works by dissolving grease and grime without affecting the fabric of the clothing.
The problem is, perc is also a dangerous and toxic chemical. The EPA considers it a human carcinogen – meaning that it may cause cancer to people who breathe in the fumes or get it on their skin. It can also cause problems like rashes, blisters, dizziness, loss of coordination, and memory loss. It may also harm unborn children if their mothers are exposed to it while pregnant. The people who are at the most risk from exposure to perchloroethylene are the employees of dry-cleaning companies who must spend their days handling the chemical.
What’s more, perchloroethylene is an environmental hazard. When it’s improperly disposed of, it can contaminate the soil and groundwater, exposing many more people and animals to the toxic chemicals. While most cleaners make an effort to dispose of the chemical safely, accidents and oversights will occur, which means that the use of perc puts the community and its environment at risk.
Alternatives to Perchloroethylene
If it’s so dangerous, why do dry cleaners continue to use perc? For the same reasons that other industries use potentially toxic chemicals. Perc does the job that it’s intended to do effectively, it’s affordable, and it’s easy to use. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that dry cleaners are stuck with it; other alternatives are available.
One alternative is wet cleaning, which is basically a gentler version of washing clothes with water and detergent. Another alternative is a silicon-based solvent that works in much the same way perchloroethylene does but without the toxic side effects.