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What is green dry cleaning?

There is a lot of talk today about green alternatives and green marketing. What makes your dry cleaners green isn’t the solvent they clean in as much as their approach towards the environment. Let’s run down the major items in dry cleaning as far as the environment is concerned. Perc – the most common cleaning solvent, and also regarded as the best at cleaning your garments. Well maintained 4th and 5th generation perc dry cleaning machines recycle 95% of the solvent after each load with no air pollution. The two solvents currently thought to be most friendly to the environment are carbon dioxide and silicone dioxide, but the jury, the Environmental Protection Agency, has not yet ruled decisively. Your home washing machine discharges 100% of its water, dirt, and soap directly into the sewer. The waste from a dry cleaning machine is treated as hazardous waste and is disposed of properly, never entering the air or water supply. Maintenance is the key here as only properly maintained perc machines are able to operate efficiently. Organic – The term organic has no value in the dry cleaning world. Any chemical that has carbon in it is organic by definition. Almost all of the solvents currently used by cleaners can be classified as organic because they contain carbon in some form—although some contain more carbon than others. Irresponsible operations will label themselves as organic based on this definition alone.

Recycling – Many dry cleaners will take your hangers and plastic when you bring them back, but what do they do with them? We use hangers that are largely reusable. Those hangers we cannot reuse are recycled. All of the plastic you bring back to us is recycled. We have a comprehensive recycling program with SOCRRA where we have pickups for plastic bags, paper, cardboard, glass, plastic containers and metal.

Packaging – This is the area that is often seen as the most wasteful. Plastic bags around your clothes ensure that your clothes will travel to your house without getting wet or dirty and without putting wrinkles back in your clothes. At Janet Davis Cleaners, we have moved to the thinnest bags possible (to use the least amount of plastic per bag) and use paper bags whenever possible. Make sure to recycle all of the plastic bags that come on your clothes.

There are a number of other things your dry cleaner can do to be green. This includes using better light bulbs, a hanger (re-use and) recycling program, plastic recycling, paper and cardboard recycling, proper and timely maintenance, full pipe insulation, home pickup & delivery, etc. Yes, our home pickup and delivery service is environmentally friendly, let me explain. If our van stops at 200 homes, picks up from 50 customers and does this while driving 50 miles, this is much more efficient than 50 customers bringing their cleaning and driving 2 miles round trip each.

When looking for an environmentally sound dry cleaner don’t just look at the solvent they clean in, look at the big picture. At the end of the day, do they rely on one method to be green, or do they have a laundry list of practices and programs to reduce waste and increase efficiency.

For more information about Janet Davis Cleaners, please visit

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