A lot of us use it, many of us don’t, but we may unexpectedly be suffering the consequences of it from renting clothes! If you rent clothes from sites like rent the runway or others that are out there, they typically dry clean at conventional cleaners so beware!
I NEVER dry cleaned anything until I became a first responder. I had never even known what dry cleaning was. Even during the academy, our uniforms were not a dry clean material, but when I got online, they were!
I refused to send them out to a typical dry cleaner which uses toxic solvents that contain PERC or perchloroethylene which is known to be a highly probable carcinogen. Beyond PERC being a carcinogen, it is most dangerous for its ability to be a brain and nervous system toxin. Certain materials hold on to residual PERC more than others such as wool, cotton, and polyester.
For those of us who work as first responders, most of our class B uniforms are indeed WOOL. So, what is one to do? Well, last week, I did some searching. I called numerous dry cleaners in Santa Cruz that claimed to be “green” dry cleaners and I asked what their methods were and honestly, they still sounded quite toxic and after reading on the internet, they really weren’t much better than PERC.
Currently, there are no standards for what a company can or cannot call “green” dry cleaning. Which for the consumer, is scary! You think you are doing the right thing for your health when really, it is no different than using the toxic stuff! So, depending on where you live and what is available to you, there are options.
If you live in Santa Cruz, there is a cleaner on Mission Street which uses truly non toxic methods. Their solvent is made of silica and water and carbon dioxide in a closed loop which
1) reduces waste and
2) is non toxic for you and the workers.
They are the ONLY dry cleaners in Santa Cruz to use this method. Trust me, I asked, and called around! If you do not live in Santa Cruz, do your research. Call, ask questions, verify, then do your homework. If you do not live in a place where this is possible, I would invest in some non toxic wool wash.
My favorite wool wash is by The Laundress and my steam cleaner was a whole ten bucks on amazon and it works like a charm. It can be quite a pain to do your own dry cleaning though so when choosing a cleaner, be smart about it and avoid those toxic ones as best as possible.