Saturday, March 22, 2008

the drycleaning dilemma

I took some clothes for drycleaning yesterday. I don't do this often (maybe a couple of items a month), but the convenience factor is high - which is to say I don't want to be washing/ironing silk shirts or trying to clean work suits etc. Partly because I am a crap ironer in the first instance (with absolutely no interest in getting better) and I don't know what else to do in the second instance.

I had a bit of an epiphany in the shop to do with really 'seeing' the kilometres of plastic that encased every single item of clothing and the huge number of wire coathangers for which there seems to be no provision for recycling. And then there is the cleaning fluids. A quick google revealed that Perchloroethylene (known as perc) is the most commonly used solvent in dry cleaning. It is hazardous to both health and to the environment. So, obviously the answer is not to do it.

So now I want to know is there an alternative?


Imagio said...

Yes, Alana, there is an alternative. I am a life long dedicated environmentalist and recently opened a new type of dry cleaning store to prove that the highest quality dry cleaning can be performed without sacrificing environmental concerns. We use one of two methods of cleaning. 1) Wet Cleaning: A way of cleaning "dry clean" only garments by using water in precisely controlled conditions with ph neutral detergents and de-humidifying drying (to prevent shrinkage). 2) GreeenEarth Cleaning. A silicone based solvent that was discovered in a cosmetics factory where it had been used for years as a base ingredient for many personal care products. The workers noticed it was cleaning their hands and it was then developed into a safe solvent that is both healthy for you and the environment.
We use converta-bags instead of plastic in many cases. They are laundry bags that flip over to become garment bags that go over hangers. Our hangers are Eco-Hangers made entirely of recycled paper. When converta-bags are not viable, we use bio-degradable poly that decomposes back into primary elements without the production of methane gases.
For more info: Greensleeves Garment Care "The Green Dry Cleaner"

Anonymous said...

I don't use any 'high maintenance' clothes like silk. Everything goes in the washing machine, including suit pants. The jackets can be hand cleaned with airing, steaming, or spot cleaning with wet cloth (depending on the material). Depends on the work place but I even steer away from button shirts that require ironing. A jersey\stretch top under a suit looks corporate enough for most workplaces (for women!)

Alana said...

imagio - what you are doing is great - I hope someone picks up the idea here. Blown away by the concept of recycled paper hangers - brilliant.

shazzalicious said...

You find ironing distasteful... another option... of course there is... it's your mother! No, just joking. What about all those people who iron baskets of clothes??? For $$$ per basket. Think stay at home mums, retirement age housewives looking for pocket money, students, etc, etc. You hand over the clothes & you own hangers - there's no additional plastic.

as for "only a few times a month". GASP. I cannot comprehend any more than once a season. And overcoats - once a year.

Another Outspoken Female said...

Two thoughts: if you need to use a dry cleaner it's important to air the clothes outside with the plastic taken off to reduce the lingering chemicals. The thin plastic is quite handy for reducing creases in your clothes when packing in a suitcase, so you can recycle it many times for that purpose.

As for silk, a couple of options - drip dry but take off the line while still just a little damp pop the garment in a (recycled) plastic bag and put it in the freezer. All those people who love ironing assure me that it makes silk easier to press. Or invest in one of those steam wand iron things that they use in clothing stores. It would keep suits looking perky too.

I love silk but hate the end I just stopped buying it.