About Eco-Cleaning – What Sets Us Apart
Today many dry cleaners are advertising that they are eco-friendly. They have signs in their windows indicating that their business is environmentally sound. But is it really true?
What is “Smart” Wet Cleaning?
The technology used by Nettoyeur Écologique Royal is Professional Wet Cleaning or Smart Wet Cleaning. An environmentally safe alternative to dry cleaning, it uses one of the most important things that nature gives us – water, plus 100% biodegradable organic soaps and state of the art washing, drying and finishing machines. No toxic ingredients at all. This is the only one and only real eco-cleaning method.
The Smart Wet Cleaning process allows the cleaning specialist to customize the washing cycle of each garment, limiting water absorption and agitation, as well as regulating temperature. The drying method is then chosen in a computer-controlled dryer that carefully monitors the moisture content of the garment, so as to avoid shrinkage. After cleaning, garments are finished with up to date pressing and tensioning equipment. The only effluent emitted in the process is water and biodegradable detergent that is so harmless it can be poured down the drain.
What Type of Fabrics can be Wet Cleaned?
The majority of fabrics on the market today can be wet cleaned safely – natural fibres, including wools, cashmere, silk and rayon; artificial fibres, as well as very delicate fibres with fine detailing.
The results are chemical-free clothes that have a fresh clean scent, are soft to the touch and kind to sensitive skin. Your clothes will last longer.
The Toxic Facts about Traditional Dry Cleaning
Unfortunately, most consumers know very little about how dry cleaning works. Dry cleaning is actually similar to home laundering. Your clothes are sorted according to color, stains are pre-treated and clothing is thrown into a washing/drying machine (called dry-to-dry). But while your washer uses soap and water, dry cleaning machines are filled with chemical solvent called tetrachloroethylene or “perc”, which can leave clothes with a pungent smell. These solvents don’t always clean clothes thoroughly – even dry cleaners must use water to remove water-based stains like sweat.
One of the most prevalent contaminants in urban air, perc is designated as a hazardous air pollutant by the Federal government. After the year 2000, in Canada, so-called “perc emission free” machines can only be installed. The new machines reduce perc emissions to a level considered “safe”, but never to zero. The levels are safer for the workers in the dry cleaning store and for the neighbourhood. But that means that perc is still present in your clothing. And what about the hundreds of old installations still operating, where cleaners use machines with perc emission highly exceeding the safe level? Many of these dry cleaners still regard themselves as eco-friendly.
What about other Chemical Solvents and Alternative Solutions?
About 10% of dry cleaners are using less poisonous chemical solvents. Here are a few:
- Petroleum-based solvents, i.e. hydrocarbons or “organic” solvents, are listed by the EPA as a neurotoxin and skin and eye irritant for workers. They are also explosive and highly flammable. However, since they are less harmful than perc, cleaners using them sometimes call this technology “eco-cleaning”. Hydrocarbons are less efficient than perc and are still pollutants. Trichloroethylene or TCE, is more aggressive than perc and is classified as carcinogenic to humans by the United States Environmental Protection Agency. (Source: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dry_cleaning)
- GreenEarth is the brand name for silicone-based chemical linked to cancer. Widely used in personal care products, the name green obviously gives cleaners using it to consider themselves eco-friendly. Clothes shrinkage is also a common problem with this technology. Preliminary studies suggest D-5, the silicone-based solvent used in the process, causes cancer in rats and may also be toxic to the liver. (Source: NPR.org)
- Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is a new emerging technology that uses liquid carbon dioxide under high pressure – over 800 psi. CO2 is comparable as a cleaning method and considered eco-friendly, but extremely expensive. As well, CO2 has also a number of proven weaknesses as a cleaning solvent. (Source: researchgate.net/publication/223387954)
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