A greener cleaner? That idea may be easier said than done

Dry cleaning isn't really dry, it just cleans clothes with something that isn't water, which tends to shrink them.

And for decades, most dry cleaners have used a solvent called perchloroethylene, or perc. The EPA has classified perc, however, as a possible carcinogen and states have tightened regulations for its use, including California, which is phasing it out by 2020, Illinois and New Jersey. In Philadelphia, restrictions on perc were tightened in 2007 after city inspectors discovered low levels of

Peter Sinsheimer, executive director of UCLA's Sustainable Technology and Policy program, notes that perc is an air and water pollutant and that regulations now prohibit dry cleaners from leasing or building new plants near residential areas — considered the best places to attract customers.

"Environmentally friendly" cleaners like GreenEarth, a solvent made from silicone, are preferable but not ideal, Mr. Sinsheimer says. Wet cleaning systems that use water and biodegradable alternatives in computer-controlled equipment "work really well, and dry cleaners are impressed when we show them how it's done," he added.

To read the full article by Mackenzie Carpenter click here.