Frequently Asked Questions

Yes! “Dry Clean Only” items can be safely cleaned with professional wet cleaning. That’s not all. The cleaning is much more thorough. The molecules in chemicals like Perc are too large to penetrate fibers, so traditional dry cleaning just cleans the surface. Professional wet cleaning uses water which has smaller molecules that can penetrate completely, carrying the gentle soaps all through the fabric for a much deeper clean.

A partial list of fabrics you can clean with professional wet cleaning: wool, gabardine, silk, cashmere, faux fur, fur, leather, suede, velvet, rayon, and of course cottons and polyesters. Suits, slacks, wedding gowns, ties, comforters and drapes all come out perfectly. Whites stay white, no yellowing. Clothing is softer and there’s no chemical smell.

Yes! In fact, it’s better. People notice the difference even before they know what’s behind it. Their clothing just feels better, looks better, smells better. Makes you want to bring more of your garments in for this VIP treatment, for a cost comparable to traditional cleaning!

Many traditional dry cleaners who have switched from chemical cleaning to professional wet cleaning report that customers are happier than they were before. In terms of customer response to the switch, not only were these cleaners able to retain their existing customers, they were able to grow their customer base more rapidly after switching to professional wet cleaning. And that’s even before advertising their cleaners as environmentally friendly. Cleaners attributed this uptick in new customers to an increased quality of cleaning. Aee the links to the third party surveys in “References” below.

Professional wet cleaning is a non-toxic, environmentally-friendly commercial process for cleaning delicate apparel and textiles typically labeled “Dry Clean” or “Dry Clean Only” in water using specially designed washers, detergents and additives, dryers, and finishing equipment. The essential innovation of professional wet cleaning has been to create an industrial process that mechanically simulates delicate hand washing by enhancing and integrating a set of advanced technologies

Computer-controlled professional wet clean washers premix water and detergent to proper concentration, and adjust temperatures and extraction speed based on type of fabric, using just enough water to extract dirt at high speed with ultra gentle agitation. Professional wet clean dryers are also computer-controlled to adjust moisture level, temperature and drum rotation.

Professional wet clean detergents, which are biodegradable, are designed to maximize cleaning power and minimize color change and shrinkage. Conditioners restore smoothness and sizing agents restore body for ease of finishing.

Professional wet clean Grade Tensioning Presses inject steam to relax fibers and use compressed hot air to dry garments to their original form. Computer controllers adjust degree of tension and timing.

It’s really a win-win. Clothing comes out better with a process that’s better for people and for the environment. You don’t sacrifice anything for the gain. Nobody’s exposed to hazardous chemicals anymore – customers or employees. A dry cleaner’s employees no longer need to wear the protective equipment required for handling dry clean chemicals. Communities no longer need to deal with the risks of air, soil and water table contamination.

The government agrees. United Stated EPA encourages cleaners to switch to professional wet cleaning rather than use perc or hydrocarbon technologies.

The Federal Trade Commission recognizes professional wet cleaning to be an environmentally friendly alternative to dry cleaning and is considering developing a new “Professional Wet Clean” label for garments labeled “Dry Clean” or “Dry Clean Only.”

In California, a new state law requires evidence when making an advertising claim. The first California city to enforce this law for professional cleaners is Santa Monica. As a consequence, a number of hydrocarbon dry cleaners in the city have agreed to stop marketing their cleaner as environmentally friendly, but old habits die hard!

Hydrocarbons with names like DF-2000, Eco-Solve, PureDry, Satec, and Stoddard;

and Saloxane (Green Earth) are being sold to dry cleaners as environmentally friendly replacements for Perc, but they are hazardous materials nonetheless. Professional wet cleaning and carbon-dioxide cleaning are the only two professional cleaning processes considered as environmentally friendly. Always ask a new cleaner what they are using. If it’s not water, walk away!

Ironically, operating a traditional chemically-based dry cleaning operation is more costly and more risky than professional wet cleaning. Most of the high costs in dry cleaning are associated with operating pollution control equipment, a cost that’s eliminated with planet-friendly wet cleaning. Professional wet cleaning is more energy-efficient than traditional dry cleaning, and only uses a small amount of water. Businesses are no longer paying for solvent costs, hazardous waste disposal costs, and regulatory compliance costs. Equipment costs are lower. Plus, government incentive programs have been developed to incentivize cleaners to switch to this environmentally-friendly technology. If you’re a dry cleaner, contact Aqua to find out more about conversion to professional wet cleaning.

REFERENCES

1 Sinsheimer, P., Grout, C., & Namkoong, A., et al. (2007). The viability of professional wet cleaning as a pollution prevention alternative to perchloroethylene dry cleaning. Journal of the Air & Waste Management Association. 57:172–178. ISSN 1047-3289 Retrieved March 16, 2015 from: http://www.stpp.ucla.edu/sites/default/files/JAWMA%20tech%20report.pdf

2 Toxics Use Reduction Institute. (2012). Assessment of alternatives to perchloroethylene for the dry cleaning industry. University of Massachussets, Lowell, MA. Retrieved March 16, 2015 from: http://www.turi.org/TURI_Publications/TURI_Methods_Policy_Reports/Assessment_of_Alternatives_to_Perchloroethylene_for_the_Dry_Cleaning_Industry._2012/2012_M_P_Report_27_Assessment_of_Safer_Alternatives_to_Perchloroethylene

3 Onash, J. (2010). A feasibility and cost comparison of perchloroethylene dry cleaning to professional wet cleaning: a case study of Silver Hangar cleaners, Bellingham, Massachusetts. Journal of Cleaner Production. doi:10.106/j.jclepro.2010.07.015

4 Sinsheimer, P., Saveri, G., & Namkoong, A. (2008). Commercialization of Environmental Technologies in the Garment Care Industry. Pollution Prevention Center Urban and Environmental Policy Institute Occidental College. Retrieved March 16, 2015 from: http://www.stpp.ucla.edu/sites/default/files/FINAL_EPA-BAAQMD_Report_1-31-08_with_appendices.pdf

5 Sinsheimer, P. (2009). Comparison of Electricity and Natural Gas Use of Five Garment Care Technologies. Pollution Prevention Center Urban and Environmental Policy Institute Occidental College. Retrieved from http://www.stpp.ucla.edu/sites/default/files/Garment%20Care%20Energy%20Report_0.pdf

6 Adapted from San Francisco Department of the Environment. (no date). Comparison of Hazards, Regulatory Concerns, and Costs for Alternative Dry Cleaning Technologies. Retrieved March 16, 2015 from: http://sfenvironment.org/sites/default/files/fliers/files/sfe_th_dry_cleaning_alternatives_assessment.pdf

7 US EPA, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Design for the Environment (DfE). (1998). Cleaner Technologies Substitutes Assessment for Professional Fabricare Processes: SUMMARY (No. EPA-774-S-98-001). Retrieved March 16, 2015 from http://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyPDF.cgi/20001BO5.PDF?Dockey=20001BO5.PDF

8 FTC to Host Roundtable on Proposed Changes to its Care Labeling Rule for Clothing. (2014, February 11). Retrieved March 16, 2015, from https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/press-releases/2014/02/ftc-host-roundtable-proposed-changes-its-care-labeling-rule

9 United States, Environmental Protection Agency, & Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics (Eds.). (1996). Apparel care and the environment alternative technologies and labeling. [Washington, D.C.]: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics.

10 Sinsheimer, P. (2014, March). Creating a New Care Label for Environmentally Friendly Professional Wetcleaning: Why Reliable Evidence Supports Its Required Use. Presented at the Care Labeling Rule – An FTC Roundtable, Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved from http://www.stpp.ucla.edu/sites/default/files/Creating%20a%20New%20Care%20Label%20for%20Enviro%20Friendly%20Wet%20Cleaning.pdf