How to Find Eco-Friendly Dry Cleaners


In today’s world, it’s becoming increasingly important to make eco-friendly choices in all aspects of our lives. From the products we buy to the services we use, opting for more sustainable options can significantly reduce our environmental impact.

Dry cleaning is an industry that has traditionally had negative impacts on the environment, from the toxic chemicals used to the air and water pollution generated. However, in recent years, more and more eco-friendly dry cleaners have emerged as great alternatives for those looking to reduce their carbon footprint.

Choosing an eco-friendly dry cleaner over a conventional one has many benefits. Not only is it better for the environment, but clothes last longer too. Eco-friendly methods are often gentler on fabrics. And you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing your clothes are being cleaned in a way that’s healthier for people and the planet.

So how do you go about finding these greener dry cleaners? This comprehensive guide will walk you through all the key steps. We’ll cover what to look for, questions to ask, online searches, spotting misleading claims, and more. With the right knowledge, finding an eco-friendly dry cleaner that meets your needs is easy.

Defining “Eco-Friendly” Dry Cleaning

First, let’s clearly define what makes a dry cleaner “eco-friendly.” At a basic level, these businesses avoid the use of harsh chemicals and practices that pollute. Here are some key characteristics to look for:

Safer Solvents

Traditional dry cleaning uses a chemical called perchloroethylene, also known as “perc.” This is classified as a likely human carcinogen by the EPA and can cause many other health and environmental issues. Eco-friendly cleaners avoid perc and use safer, non-toxic solvents. Common alternatives include:

  • Liquid carbon dioxide – Turns to gas at room temperature, leaving no residue.
  • Hydrocarbon – Derived from petroleum but gentler than perc.
  • GreenEarth – Made from sugar cane and silicone, breaks down into harmless components.
  • Wet cleaning – Uses water as the solvent with biodegradable soaps and detergents.

Proper Chemical Disposal

Proper disposal of solvents, waste water, and hazardous substances is crucial for reducing environmental impacts. Many eco-friendly cleaners have special filtration and disposal systems to prevent pollution.

Renewable Energy

Switching to renewable energy sources like solar or wind power reduces a dry cleaner’s carbon footprint. Look for cleaners who use green energy to power their operations.

Efficient Machines

Newer, efficient dry cleaning machines use less energy and water. Eco-friendly businesses invest in these resource-saving technologies.

Recycling & Conservation

Environmentally-conscious cleaners recycle hangers, garment bags and other items. They also take measures to reduce waste and conserve water.

Green Certifications

Reputable eco-friendly dry cleaners often have certifications from independent organizations like GreenSeal to verify their practices. These are a sign of a truly green business.

No “Greenwashing”

Some cleaners claim to be “eco-friendly” but engage in “greenwashing” with misleading marketing. Check that a business meets criteria like those above rather than just taking its word for it.

By keeping these key green practices in mind, you’ll know what to look for in an Earth-friendly dry cleaner.

Finding Green Dry Cleaners Locally

Searching for eco-friendly dry cleaners in your own community is one of the best ways to find convenient, trusted options. Here are some tips for finding green dry cleaners locally:

Search Online Business Directories

Online business directories like Google Maps and Yelp make it easy to search for local service providers. Do a search for “eco-friendly dry cleaner” or “green dry cleaner” in your city. Results with related keywords in their listings are a good starting point for your research.

Check Green Business Directories

There are also specialized directories that focus exclusively on listing green, sustainable businesses. Try searching sites like Green America’s National Green Pages and Eco-Choices to find eco dry cleaners near you.

Look for Green Certifications

As mentioned earlier, legitimate eco-friendly dry cleaners often have certifications like GreenSeal to back up their claims. Searching certification databases lets you find certified green cleaners in your area.

Some other certifications to look for include:

  • Green Business Bureau
  • Green America Business Network
  • USEPA Safer Choice

Ask Locals for Recommendations

Speaking with neighbors, colleagues and others in your local community can provide personal recommendations for good eco-friendly cleaners they use and trust. These first-hand experiences can give you peace of mind.

Drive by Potential Options

Once you have a list of potential green dry cleaners in your area, do some investigating by driving by them in person. Look for signage about eco practices or sustainability initiatives that give clues into how green they really are.

Explore Your Options

Cast a wide net by browsing all the eco-friendly dry cleaners in your city or town. Even if some are less conveniently located, they may offer cheaper pricing or other advantages worth the extra drive.

Thoroughly exploring all your local options improves your chance of finding the perfect green dry cleaner for your needs.

Questions to Ask Green Dry Cleaners

Once you’ve identified some potential eco-friendly dry cleaner options where you live, the next step is vetting them further. Calling the businesses and asking the right questions will help you determine if a cleaner truly uses green practices.

Here are some important questions to ask:

What solvents do you use for dry cleaning?

As discussed earlier, the solvent is the most crucial factor. Avoid any shop still using perc. Try to select a cleaner using newer alternative solvents like liquid carbon dioxide or GreenEarth.

How do you dispose of waste and hazardous materials?

Find out specifics about their waste disposal systems. Look for exhaustive filtration, water treatment, and separation of hazardous waste from regular trash. Lack of proper precautions is a red flag.

Do you use renewable energy like solar or purchase carbon offsets?

Using renewable energy is a great sustainability measure for a dry cleaner to take. If they don’t yet, look for those that purchase carbon offsets to neutralize their environmental impact.

Are your machines ENERGY STAR certified for efficiency?

The latest dry cleaning machines carry ENERGY STAR ratings for energy efficiency, like other appliances. This saves power and shows a commitment to going green.

What percentage of your supplies do you recycle or purchase second-hand?

Whether it’s hangers, cleaning cloths or packaging, look for cleaners with high rates of recycling and reuse. This reduces waste and avoids unnecessary consumption of resources.

Do you use biodegradable bags and packaging materials?

Plastic garment bags pile up in landfills and harm the environment. Seek out cleaners who use sustainable, compostable materials instead.

Can you provide any green certifications you hold?

Reputable eco cleaners should have no problem providing documentation for recognized certifications from organizations like GreenSeal or the EPA. Lack of proof raises suspicions.

Asking these types of specific questions will separate the true eco-friendly dry cleaners from the imposters. A green business should be happy to provide transparent answers.

Identifying Misleading “Greenwashing” Claims

Unfortunately, some dry cleaners engage in “greenwashing” – making eco-friendly claims that are misleading, exaggerated, or outright false. This lets them cash in on growing consumer demand for sustainability without making substantive changes.

When researching dry cleaners, watch out for these common greenwashing red flags:

Vague Claims

Terms like “eco-safe” or “environmentally-responsible” are too vague. Ask for specifics on practices and solvents.

Selective Facts

Some cleaners promote one green practice like recycling while continuing to use toxic perc. Look at the full picture.

Meaningless Certifications

Check that any certifications come from major independent green certification organizations.

Fake Labels or Seals

Note that real eco-certification logos have registered trademark protection and can’t be used freely.

Baseless Claims

If a business claims to be “non-toxic” or “all-natural” without proof or certification, be wary. Ask for documentation.

Exaggerated Statistics

Inflated claims about things like the percentage of certain solvents used or energy saved call for fact-checking.

By watching for these suspect marketing tactics, you can identify which businesses are genuine eco-friendly dry cleaners. Focus your search on fully transparent businesses proven to walk the talk.

Choosing the Best Eco-Friendly Option for You

Once you’ve thoroughly researched the eco-friendly dry cleaners in your area, it’s time to choose the one that best fits your needs.

Here are some important factors to consider:

Cleaning Quality

While green, the cleaning results should still fully satisfy you without damaged clothes. Ask friends for quality references or test with a small cleaning order first.

Types of Garments Cleaned

Some cleaners specialize in delicate items like silk or hand cleaning wedding gowns. Pick one that can properly handle all your wardrobe.

Extra Services

Look for green cleaners that offer add-ons like hem repairs, ironing, and cloth storage bags. This maximizes convenience.

Customer Service

The business should have friendly, knowledgeable staff ready to answer all your eco-related questions and concerns.

Fair Pricing

Environmentally-friendly cleaning shouldn’t break the bank. Balance greenness and affordability when selecting a cleaner that fits your budget.

Location & Hours

Consider commute time to the cleaner and store hours that fit well with your schedule. Look for pick-up/drop-off service.

Choosing the green dry cleaner that checks all your personal boxes results in a cleaning provider you can be happy with for years to come.

Spotting the Best Eco-Friendly National Dry Cleaning Chains

For those needing dry cleaning services across locations, national eco-friendly dry cleaning chains can provide consistency and convenience. Although availability varies by region, some top green national chains include:

Hangers Cleaners

This growing chain uses safer hydrocarbon and GreenEarth solvents instead of perc. Stores recycle hangers and mixed fabrics, use biodegradable plastic, and track their carbon footprint.

EnviroStar Green Cleaners

With locations in over 20 states, EnviroStar has been pioneering and perfecting eco-friendly dry cleaning since 1993. They focus on smart solvents, energy and water conservation, and waste reduction.

GreenEarth Cleaning

This international chain was the original developer of the GreenEarth silicone solvent brand and remains committed to green principles through clean technology and sustainability initiatives.

The Green Hanger

A newer green dry cleaning chain based in California, The Green Hanger uses only liquid silicone GreenEarth solvent, 100% LED lighting, and carbon-neutral practices.

Clean Shop

This chain based in Canada has multiple certifications for using GreenEarth products and follows guidelines on recycling, waste management, energy and water use.

When using national chains, check individual location info as practices may vary. But these leading green brands make it easier to locate Earth-friendly dry cleaners almost anywhere.

Making the Switch for Your Family’s Items

For families aiming to live greener lifestyles, switching to eco-friendly dry cleaning is an impactful change worth making. Here are great tips for transitioning your family’s wardrobe items and other belongings to sustainable cleaning:

Gather All Household Items Needing Dry Cleaning

Take an inventory of everything in your home requiring professional cleaning – clothing, linens, comforters, stuffed toys, etc. Having a full list helps organize the transition.

Research Your Local Green Dry Cleaner Options

Do thorough research using this article’s guidance on finding reputable eco-friendly cleaners in your area that fit your family’s needs and budget.

Ask for Proof of Green Practices

When selecting a cleaner, remember to request documentation on solvents used, certifications held, and sustainability initiatives. Verify that they truly are green.

Start Slowly for Transition

At first, bring some less essential or cheaper items from your inventory to test your chosen cleaner before fully switching over. Check you are satisfied with their service and results.

Over Time, Switch All Items to New Cleaner

With each new load of laundry needing dry cleaning, begin bringing those items consistently to your vetted eco-friendly provider rather than your old conventional cleaner.

Use Plant-Based Hangers & Bags

To go the extra green mile, buy your cleaner eco-friendly plant-based hangers and garment bags made of cotton canvas or compostable materials.

Share With Family Your Reasons for Switching

Explain to your family why you made the change to green dry cleaning for their health and to protect the environment. Get them invested in this positive home improvement.

With some effort upfront to find a truly eco-friendly dry cleaner, soon you can have the satisfaction of keeping all your family’s garments and other prized possessions clean in a way that aligns with your values. The switch is well worth it.

Adapting Dry Clean Only Items to Home Laundering

Many who aim to be eco-friendly want to launder as much of their clothing at home as possible. However, some delicate and “dry clean only” items pose challenges. With the right strategies, many of these garments can be safely washed at home:

Check Care Labels Thoroughly

Look for any indication you can machine or hand wash an item. Phrases like “dry clean preferred” mean it’s possible but not recommended.

Use a Garment Bag

Placing delicates in a zippered mesh garment bag provides protection during the wash while still allowing adequate cleaning.

Opt for Cold Water Cycles

Wash delicates using the gentlest machine cycle in cold water, never hot. This prevents color transfer and shrinkage. Air dry.

Use Gentle Laundry Detergent

Choose an eco-friendly liquid detergent formulated for delicates and silk that is sulfate-free, non-toxic and fragrance-free to maintain fabrics.

Hand Wash When Needed

Fill a basin or sink with cool water and delicate detergent, submerge garments for washing, then rinse. Lay flat on a towel to dry.

Take Unwashable Items to Green Cleaner

If an item’s material would truly be ruined by any water exposure, still take it to an eco-friendly dry cleaner for the most sustainable cleaning method.

With care and the right techniques, even many dry clean only clothes can be washed sustainably at home. For the small portion that can’t, green dry cleaners are the responsible choice.

In Conclusion

I hope this comprehensive guide has provided you with extensive knowledge and tips for identifying truly eco-friendly dry cleaners for all your garment care needs.

Making the switch from conventional methods to sustainable green cleaning services is one of the best ways we can directly reduce the environmental impacts of our day-to-day consumption. By supporting dry cleaners who avoid toxic chemicals and pollution, we vote with our dollars to protect the planet.

With the right research techniques and questions, finding reputable eco-friendly cleaners in your area is simple. Running a quick online search or calling around to ask specifics will reveal the best green options.

Taking a little time to vet local cleaners pays off with the satisfaction of knowing all your delicate fabrics are being cleaned responsibly. And working with green national chains makes it easy to maintain sustainability when travelling or moving to new cities.

Not only is green dry cleaning better for the Earth, it extends the life of your clothes and works great. With more consumers prioritizing eco-friendly practices, the cleaning industry will continue moving in a greener direction. So seek out those fully committed businesses leading the way.

The next time your wool suits or performance athletic wear need freshening up, choose an Earth-conscious cleaner and know you are preserving the planet for future generations. This simple habit embodies the growing movement to live both smartly and sustainably.