Stains on clothes or anything that is hard to wash can really be a nuisance. Thankfully, there are plenty of dry and wet cleaners nowadays who are always willing to take on these tedious jobs.

But how good do you think are they?

Well, you’ll be surprised that they’re not really as helpful as you might initially think.

A recent research has found out that over 80% of the estimated 35,000 dry cleaners in the US are using perc in their dry cleaning processes. Perc, a synthetic and volatile organic compound, is considered a probable human carcinogen by Proposition 65 of the state of California. This is because of its unwanted effects to the human body. Minimal contact with perc can cause headaches, dizziness, respiratory irritations, and a lot more. Worse, prolonged exposure to this popular solvent is linked to kidney or liver damage and to some certain cancers.

How quickly can this happen?

Try to consider this example.

You got your newly dry-cleaned dress from the shop, brought it home, and then showed it to your friends or family members who are busy preparing lunch. Unknowingly, perc got into your body or that of the person you’re talking to after it contaminated the food you ate. As a result, your baby, who feeds on your breastmilk, also gets exposed to some health risks.

This cycle can go on and on.

Does this mean dry cleaning should never be an option?

Not totally as there are some non-toxic cleaning alternatives available — professional wet cleaning and liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) cleaning.

Professional wet cleaning involves laundering clothes in computerized washers and dryers that slowly and gently clean clothes. The machines also have variable settings for temperature, time, and mechanical action to easily adapt to the type of fabric that needs to be washed. Unlike before, wet cleaning techniques are currently more sophisticated and efficient. Plus, it offers almost the same quality results as traditional dry cleaning methods.

On the other hand, liquid carbon dioxide cleaning replaces perc by utilizing pressurized liquid CO2 along with other cleaning agents. CO2 is a non-toxic and non-flammable gas that turns into a liquid solvent when exposed to high pressure. It’s best used in dissolving fats, oil, and other types of dirt in the clothing. However, liquid carbon dioxide cleaning machines are really expensive with prices around $40,000.

Ask, ask, ask

Whenever you go to a dry cleaner who claims to be environment-friendly, don’t be afraid to ask about their ways of cleaning and the type of chemicals they’re using. If a company cares about their customers, they should also know how to take care of their employees by not exposing them to harmful compounds such as perc. Otherwise, they’re only good at promises and they simply don’t care at all.