Think twice about dry cleaning your work clothes.

Do you take your work clothes to the dry cleaners? Think twice about the health risks!

Perchloroethylene (or PERC) is a manufactured chemical that is primarily used for dry cleaning fabrics. Most of us won’t be exposed to high levels of Perc which can affect the central nervous system, eye and respiratory irritation, severe shortness of breath, nausea, difficulty speaking and walking, etc. But even small doses can cause dizziness, inebriation, sleepiness, and irritated eyes, nose, mouth, throat, and respiratory tract. If you are pregnant or have disease of the heart, liver, kidneys, or lungs you are much more susceptible to these conditions. Long term exposure can lead to many forms of cancer. (more info)


  • Find a “green” dry cleaner: CO2 or GreenEarth are two choices I found online.
  • Many clothes can be washed by hand.
  • Or try washing in the machine’s gentle cycle.
  • Avoid the problem by buying clothes that do not call for dry cleaning.

(Note: Perc is also found in aerosol products, solvent soaps, printing inks, adhesives, sealants, paint removers, paper coatings, leather treatments, automotive cleaners, polishes, lubricants, typewriter correction fluid, adhesives, spot removers, wood cleaners, and shoe polish.)


3 thoughts on “Think twice about dry cleaning your work clothes.

  1. Sure, you can wash most anything but will all stains come out? No, of course not.
    Will the garment…dryclean only or not…shrink? But you make a good point when stating buy washable cloths…again not all stains will come out with water (oil, grease)but it may and you will save money, and if perc affects you in some way then its best to stay away form it.
    And for those white collar workers? A stain on a tie or rayon blouse?…washing can be a disaster!
    I had worked in the DC industry for many years and never experianced side affects, nor did my employees, thats not to say that one day I couldnt develop some horrible ailment.
    For those who work in the industry, the enviornment of the dry cleaning plant has become safer with the advent of dry-to-dry machines, which means the cloths are put in one machine that washes and drys, never is the cleaner or those working close-by exposed to “wet” cloths from perc.
    Any questions please see my blog!!!! Cloths Minded

  2. Thanks for you comment. I’m sure things are changing in the industry and many dry cleaning places are better than others. Still for some people this is a problem and something they might not have thought was affecting them. Its good to see both sides and make your own personal decision on the issue.

  3. Dry cleaners have been using perc since the middle of the last century. Perc is by far the most commonly used solvent in the industry. There are over 30,000 employees who spend every day working inside dry cleaning plants. These people get much more than a small dose of perc daily. These people aren’t suffering the symptoms you list here. Any idea why not?

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