By Maria Jose Subiria
Some do their part for the environment by driving a hybrid vehicle or recycling paper, plastic and aluminum. Dry cleaner Scott Worgo says the eco-conscious can now take their clothes in for a green "wet clean."
Professional wet cleaning is one of several types of greener dry cleaning. Other environmentally-friendly alternatives to traditional dry cleaning include the use of a silicone-based solvent and liquid carbon dioxide.
Worgo, who is certified by the Drycleaning and Laundry Institute and operates wet cleaning equipment at his Courtesy Cleaners location in Jonesboro, says greener dry-cleaning technology has improved over the years, but processes using water are not safe for all fabrics.
"I think wet cleaning is where the industry is going, but you can't go 100 percent with it," he said.
Worgo says it's important to know which fabrics are right for wet cleaning. Wool, for example, shouldn't be cleaned in water.
"If you put a garment in to wet clean, and its fabric can't withstand water, you will ruin it," he said.
Wet cleaning uses water, stain removal agents and a detergent formulated to protect fibers from water.
"The water flushes the soils and greases," said Worgo, who has been wet cleaning since October 2007. "It swells natural fibers, which creates friction and all of this is done in a gentle cycle."
The traditional dry-cleaning process uses solvents that can be harmful to the environment, and toxic. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, prolonged exposure to high levels of perchloroethylene, or perc, a common dry-cleaning solvent, can cause dizziness, drowsiness, loss of coordination and mild memory loss.
Worgo says traditional dry cleaning methods must include steps to curb exposure to the chemicals, and keep it from contaminating the environment.
"Limited exposure to perc is the best," Worgo said. "To keep perc at a minimum, air is filtered in the equipment after it has finished its cleaning cycle."