Eco-friendly dry cleaners put to test

December 26, 2010 7:17:59 PM PST
Many of us strive to live a greener lifestyle. As you've probably seen, even some dry cleaners claim to be organic and eco-friendly. But have you ever wondered what that means?

The traditional method of dry cleaning known as PERC is petroleum based and could harm the environment, but Good Housekeeping researchers say there are alternatives.

"We researched the four alternatives to PERC, which are wet cleaning, liquid co2, liquid silicone and hydrocarbons to see which ones were recommended by the EPA," Stacy Genovese from Good Housekeeping said.

Wet cleaning is considered safer than PERC by the EPA. it's water and detergent based and did well in Good Housekeeping's tests for getting out coffee and wine stains. it had a tough time with lipstick oil and ink.

"Liquid CO2 is another process that's considered safer than PERC by the EPA. In our tests it did a better job at getting out coffee, lipstick and oil, but it was less effective at getting out ink and wine spots," Genovese said. "Liquid silicone is a cleaning process that's offered under the brand name of green earth. Its health effects have not been fully researched yet so the EPA has not taken a stand on it."

Good Housekeeping says it removed coffee, lipstick and oil and most wine stains, but it left ink on silk

"Hydrocarbons are another process that's also petroleum based like PERC but they are designed to biodegrade more quickly. In our test they had no problem removing stains from wool items, but had a hard time with cotton and silk," Genovese said.

It's important to remember that claims of green or organic dry cleaning are not regulated.


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