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A Cleaner Cleaner

Posted Sep 14 2008 4:37pm

I've always had a love/hate relationship with dry cleaners. Most of the places I've used over the years had very friendly people behind the counter, and I love how pressed everything looks. However, I hate the chemical smell that my clothes carry after dry cleaning. And knowing that this chemical smell is from a substance that is toxic to me, the people cleaning my clothes, and the Eart makes me feel awful. I was thrilled several years ago when a new ecofriendly dry cleaner opened up near me, but I think they were ahead of their time as they went out of business within a year. Since then, I've tried home dryer-based "dry cleaning" products, but haven't been satisfied with the results. Unfortunately, there are just some things that my husband and I own that require dry cleaning (I do my best to only buy clothes that don't).

I moved to this area a couple of years ago, an area with one of the highest per capita rates of hybrid vehical ownership in the country, so I figured there should be an ecofriendly dry cleaner somewhere nearby. So, I put out a query on an awesome DC women's listserv I belong to asking if anyone knew of a local, environmentally-friendly dry cleaners. I received several responses. A family-owned company called Cupid Cleaners was mentioned by several different people, and it turned out to be just 10 minutes from my house. I Googled them and found that they are a certified Green Earth cleaner. The Green Earth website explains that they use a different type of chemical than traditional dry cleaners, one that is not only easier on the environment, but gentler on your clothes, and according to one of their press releases, "does not exhibit adverse health effects when used properly."

I'm not a chemist, and have not done extensive research on this process, so I not sure how good it is for the environment or for people. But, barring not using dry cleaning services at all, I feel as if I am taking a step in the right direction.

Along two sides of the parking lot are thin strips of earth, maybe two feet wide, in which the owners of Cupid Cleaners have planted several vegetables, including tomatoes and peppers. It made me think that the owners are pretty confident that there are no toxic chemicals seeping out of the cleaning facilities. I don't know if I would feel the same way, but regardless, it's really great to have found a dry cleaning company that is making an attempt to lessen its impact on the Earth.

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