Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Does Dry Cleaning Work?

I love beautiful coats and embellished blouses just as much as the next girl. But...I HATE dry cleaning. When I do laundry, I separate darks/whites, dry cleaning (most all of which is my husband's stuff) and then the hand wash pile...technically that pile SHOULD go to the cleaners, too. My husband thinks I'm a freak because I insist that dry cleaned clothes aren't really "clean." Think about it. There is no WATER used which explains why it's called "dry cleaning." And frankly, there isn't any soap used, either.

Basically, visible stains are pretreated with a catalyst, of some sort, to loosen the stain. Next the clothing is put in a machine that looks like a normal washing machine. A fluid called (PERC), a colorless, nonflammable liquid, NOT water, is pumped through the basket. Throughout the wash cycle, perc is continually pumped through the washer as it is turned back and forth, "washing" the clothes like a normal washer. The perc itself is filtered out to remove dirt from the clothes, then pumped back in to the washer. At the end of the cleaning cycle, the clothes are spun very quickly to get rid of the cleaning fluid.

Let me put this in perspective. When was the last time you washed your DIRTY hands with a chemical and then referred to them as "clean"? Absurd, right? Same thought applies to your clothes.

I'll be the first to admit, I dry clean many things. I wouldn't dare put my Phillip Lim coat in the wash! For pieces like that I turn a blind eye and just drop them off to the cleaners. BUT, I do challenge each article that has been labeled dry clean ONLY. I've opted to wash as much of what I was directed to take to the cleaners as I can. I'm not sure what 'perc' can do for smelly armpits or a sweaty blouse after a night out dancing?

So that brings me back to my original thought...are my dry cleaned items really clean?

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