When I worked a serious corporate job, where I wore fitted suits and A-line skirts, dropping my expensive garments off to the dry cleaners was a normal part of my Saturday routine. I had wanted even then to try an organic dry cleaner, but you know what they say, location, location, location… Nothing worse than being told you have that unexpected early morning meeting and your organic dry cleaner is on the other side of town. However, I know when I was using a traditional dry cleaner, my clothes wore out faster, had that “chemically” smell and felt stiff. So what is organic dry cleaning, exactly? Most “organic” or “natural” dry cleaners label themselves as such simply because they’ve stopped using perchloroethylene (perc), a hazardous chemical considered a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Perc also contributes to air pollution and has been found to contaminate water and soil. In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency passed a law requiring any dry cleaner located in a residential building phase out perc by 2020.
The other organic qualifier could mean that the dry cleaner is certified by the International Fabricare Institute (IFI) as a “Certified Environmental Dry Cleaner,” which means the cleaner has passed a test certifying that they know how to maintain their facility in an environmentally responsible way but doesn’t actually ban the use of chemicals like perchloroethylene. At the end of the day, however, there’s no hard and fast regulation of the term “organic” when applied to dry cleaning. What you really have to do is have a frank discussion with your cleaner to see what chemicals are being used and if they have some sort of certification or “diploma” from the IFI.
With all that info stacking up against perc however, 2020 seems a long way off. Try seeking a dry cleaner in your area that touts being organic and certified green and begin a dialog I know in New York there are quite a few, like Green Apple.
On average at a regular dry cleaner I was spending about $120.00 a month on dry cleaning. At that price, let the dialogs begin.