Dry Cleaning Overview

The last time you went to the dry cleaners, you may have come home with more than you expected. Contrary to popular belief, dry cleaning is not really "dry"; clothes are immersed in chemical solvents to remove dirt and stains. Traditionally, dry cleaners have used perchloroethylene ("perc") as their primary cleaning solvent. Perc is a known carcinogen and environmental toxicant, which leaches into the ground water, contaminates soil, vaporizes into air and leaves a residue in dry cleaned garments. Because of the risks it poses to the environment, in January 2007, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) ruled to phase out the use of perc throughout California. Today, an environmentally friendly, non-smog forming garment cleaning process called professional wet cleaning is available.

How can consumers help green the dry cleaning industry?

1) Understand the health and environmental impacts of dry cleaning solvents.

2) Learn about how environmentally-friendly wet cleaning works:

3) Bring your garments to a wet cleaner. Use this map to find a wet cleaner in SF.

4) Find out what technology your local San Francisco dry cleaner uses. If your cleaner offers wet cleaning and another technology, ask them to wet clean your garments.

5) If your local cleaner does not already offer wet cleaning, encourage them to adopt this environmentally friendly technology. CARB is currently offering $10,000 grants to help dry cleaners switch from perc to wet cleaning.

6) As more and more cleaners claim to be "eco-friendly", "organic" and "environmentally friendly", you must carefully evaluate the environmental claims made by the dry cleaning industry.

Additional Information for Dry Cleaning Overview

Non-Toxic Dry Cleaning Incentive Program
Assembly Bill 998 (AB 998) established the Non-Toxic Dry Cleaning Incentive Program to provide financial assistance to the dry cleaning industry to switch from systems using perchloroethylene (Perc).