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PERC vs Organic Silicone-based Solvents

Is the white blouse turning yellow too fast? What’s all the pilling on the pants? Did this T-shirt shrink?!

We have all had these questions while inspecting dry cleaning. Clothes are our second skin; then how come we know very little about what happens to them once they hit the dirty pile and onwards to the cleaners? It’s time we show more care.

Firsts things first. Here’s what you need to know: Most dry cleaners use perchloroethylene (known as “perc’), a classified hazardous substance, to remove stains. Petroleum-based chemical solvents are toxic and harmful to your clothes. They are carcinogenic and turns fabric rough and yellow in a few quick washes.

The harmful effects of perc have been well documented going back decades. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), perc causes an increased risk of developing breast cancer, lymphoma, cancers of the cervix and esophagus, and Parkinson’s disease. Over the years, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has published several directorates of guidance for dry cleaning establishments using perc to reduce employee exposures to the solvent. Garments dry cleaned using perc possess a strong odor and continue to emanate toxins once they are brought home, especially in the rooms or closets they are stored in.

Perc is also profoundly harmful to the environment. Untreated perc from dry cleaning plants can seep underground and pollute the groundwater, and when released as a gas, it can cause air toxicity. Besides, perc causes colors to fade and leaves the garments with a dull, washed-out appearance; It erodes the fabric and shortens the lifecycle of clothes.

In short, perc is bad for your health, bad for the environment, and bad for your clothes. While there have been several failed attempts since the 70’s to ban perc as a dry-cleaning agent, 85% of traditional dry cleaners continue to rely on it since it’s cheap. However, a new understanding of the health and environmental risks has given birth to superior alternatives, most notably, the silicone-based solvent called decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (D5). Silicone-based solvents are odor-free and possess excellent fabric care properties. D5 is also commonly used in cosmetics and skincare products and does not harm the environment. Once disposed of, it will quickly degrade into non-reactive silica and trace amounts of water.

At Urban Cleaners, we are purveyors of a new and green cleaning model. We have partnered with GreenEarth Cleaning products to source the finest liquid silicone-based solvent from sand for the safest and cleanest dry-cleaning experience. Our solvent can fight the toughest stains without bleeding color, damaging trims, and weakening the fabric; liquid silicone is light, chemically inert, and has very low surface tension allowing it to move effortlessly through fibers, coalescing dirt and oil in the process. It’s gentle on delicate fabrics such as silk, cashmere, lace, and beads.

Make the safe choice for you, your cloths and planet today and schedule a free pick up and delivery. For more details about our services using green and natural dry cleaning process, click here.