Perchloroethylene (or perc) has been the standard dry cleaning solvent because of its effectiveness, ease of use, and relatively low cost.
Unfortunately, improper use, storage and disposal of perc have resulted in widespread contamination of groundwater and soil at dry cleaning sites. In addition, exposure to perc is associated with a variety of adverse human health effects and is designated a probable human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Because of these impacts, perc is more strictly regulated today than in the past, and many cleaners are investigating alternatives for use in their operations.
To learn more about the health effects and other issues, please read the TURI perc chemical fact sheet.
About the Alternatives
TURI conducted an assessment of seven common alternatives to perc in 2012 to find technically viable and environmentally preferred methods for professional garment cleaning. We evaluated these alternatives: professional wet cleaning, liquid carbon dioxide, high flash hydrocarbons, acetal, propylene glycol ethers, cyclic volatile methyl siloxane, and N-propyl bromide. To find the results, download the complete 56-page report or the four-page summary fact sheet.
What is Professional Wet Cleaning?
The safer alternative for “dry-clean-only” clothes, professional wet cleaning, uses water and detergents in computer-controlled machines and then finished with tensioning and pressing equipment to achieve exceptional quality results. Check out the Silver Hanger Cleaner video on the right to learn more.
To date TURI has supported nine Massachusetts dry cleaners switch from perc use to dedicated professional wet cleaning (meaning it is the only technology they use to clean clothes). View this fact sheet to learn about each cleaner's experiences, how their workplace and their bottom line have improved. You can also read more about each shop -- how they are saving money, improving health, using less energy -- by linking to them on the right.
Grant Assistance Available
Are you a cleaner who is interested in switching to professional wet cleaning? Throughout the year, TURI accepts grant applications from dry cleaners across the Commonwealth seeking financial assistance in their conversion. Please review the program description, then download an application to submit.
Are you a consumer who is interested in bringing your "dry-clean-only" clothes to a professional wet cleaner? View the list of dry cleaners that offer wet professional wet cleaning. Other cleaners may offer professional wet cleaning services upon request in conjunction with solvent technologies. Ask your cleaner what they use and if they offer professional wet cleaning. If you want further guidance on how to approach your cleaner, please contact one of us below and we can help.