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Green Garment Cleaning

Soo Chang
Colonial Cleaners at 37th and Lyndale in Minneapolis

If we ask anybody to characterize the 21st Century, they might say that it is the age of technology, but also the age of pollution resulting from all of this technological progress.

The present day pollution is actually mostly caused by the activities from our daily life – from what we eat to what we wear.

Traditional dry-cleaning methods for cleaning our clothes, are one of these pollution-causing culprits. For years, we dry-cleaners have worked to come up with a method that is environmentally wholesome and not harmful to your health. Yet, it has been difficult to come up with anything that is not the carbon/petroleum based solvent traditionally used for dry cleaning. This solvent called Perchlorethylene or Perc, has been noted as a potential human carcinogen by OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) and the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). Yet, it is still being used by most of the dry-cleaners in Minnesota. This is because of the enormous investment that has already been made in the equipment, the effective cleaning power of Perc and the lack of knowledge of the pollution and health problems Perc can cause. However, recently the dry-cleaning industry has come up with a few viable alternatives to the harmful Perc solvent:

Wet Cleaning: Humans have been using this cleaning method from the beginning of the time. Wet cleaning is a water-based cleaning method that has gone high-tech. With a sophisticated computerized washing and drying process, delicates and fragile fabrics, normally requiring dry-clean only, can now be cleaned fresher, cleaner and healthier.

Dry Cleaning With Green Earth Solvent: Recently introduced, Green Earth solvent is a liquid silicone also commonly called D5 or Decamethylcyclopentasiloxane. This solvent, combined with earth-friendly detergents, creates a gentle cleaning agent. It can isolate dirt away from garments while not damaging the fabric. This results in fresh, soft, clean and odorless garments not releasing any pollutants into the air and not contaminating our ground water.

Liquid Carbon Dioxide: Carbon dioxide is normally a gas, but under high pressure it converts to a liquid form. In a specially designed machine, clothes are tumbled with a detergent at a very high pressure with liquid carbon dioxide to release the dirt. After the washing and drying cycles, the carbon dioxide is collected and reused.

Try to choose a cleaner near you that offers one of these green cleaning methods. You can feel good knowing you are not contributing to emitting pollutants into the air or contaminating our ground water and you will be protecting your family from harmful pollutants. For an updated list of alternative dry cleaners in the Metro Area, visit:
www.mntap.umn.edu (search for “alternative dry cleaning”).

Garment Cleaning

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