Traditional Dry Cleaning: You Just Don’t Need It

Portrait of woman with basket of clothes in laundromat

There are many conventions in modern life that deserve to be phased out. If you’ve ever uttered the phrase, “WHY DO I STILL HAVE TO DO THIS IN 2016?!”, you know exactly what I’m talking about. We often feel this way doing our taxes, waiting in line at the post office, or sitting around for hours at the DMV. Those are all conspicuous examples. But some of the most irrelevant things in our lives seem like they’re still important. For the purposes of this article, we’re talking about traditional dry cleaning methods.

Dry cleaning might seem like a vital part of everyday life. After all, we’ve all got tons of clothes and textiles that have printed right on the label “DRY CLEAN ONLY”. So why would anyone suggest that dry cleaning should go the way of the dinosaur. Simply put, dry cleaning is outmoded; there are better ways of doing it. But most people don’t understand what’s wrong with the original dry cleaning method anyway.

Old-fashioned dry cleaning (the method still used by hundreds of services all around North America), relies on a toxic chemical drycleaning solvent to break down stains and dirt, removing them from the clothing without strong liquid detergents. In the old days, this method (though harsh) was a lot easier on clothes that other cleaning methods. Today, this is not the case.

If you’ve ever had your clothes cleaned by a cleaner who still uses these solvents, you’ll know immediately upon opening up your clean clothes at home. The smell of dry cleaning chemicals is unmistakable, and unpleasant. It’s also unnecessary. Non-toxic dry cleaning is now affordable, and is the industry standard, though many of the old services have not yet adopted new technologies or have not been phased out entirely.

But why is so bad about toxic dry cleaning chemicals? Why do we need a dry cleaning alternative? Much of the problem is in the heavy cost that these chemicals bring to the environment. In the best case scenario, an old-style dry cleaner will dispose of waste water properly. But many cities and communities around the United States see waste water piped into fresh water, which returns to river and oceans. This endangers wildlife and even ends up in some people’s drinking water. It is always safer to remove the toxic chemicals from the equation, as they always seem to find a way into natural areas.

Proper disposal doesn’t always happen. Sometimes chemicals leak into the ground around dry cleaning sites. Fumes also pollute the air around the centers, impacting the lives of passersby and residents, especially children and the elderly. Because dry cleaning alternatives are non-toxic, and just as effective at cleaning than old methods, there really is no reason to use the services of a polluting dry cleaner.

The next time you need dry cleaning, make sure you patronize a company that uses modern dry cleaning methods. An investment in this kind of service will make your community cleaner, which will help you live a healthier life in the end.

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