Clean Silk, Wool, Rayon at home

Almost all dry cleaning establishments in the country clean with perchloroethylene (perc), a probable carcinogen, neurotoxic chlorinated solvent that bioaccumulates in fat and is suspected endocrine disrupter, meaning it is a chemical that may confuse the body into thinking it is estrogen!
Until now the dry cleaning industry changes to green process, but not all dry cleaners are. So we can take care of getting our “dry clean only” garments clean safely by learn how to wet cleaning at home.
Earlier in my experience — I shrunk a lot of rayon outfits three sizes before I finally figured out what I was doing wrong — I have finally learned how to wet clean wool, rayon and silk at home. Now I learn wet cleaning process from professional. I share some of this info to you who want to do it at home.
The most critical information you need to know is that it is the agitation of wool, silk and rayon that causes the shrinkage of the garment, not just hot water. Even the agitation of the gentle cycle in a washing machine is too much agitation for these fabrics. Make sure to spot test the fabric for colorfastness first before start clean.
Wet Cleaning Wool and Silk
  1. 1. Hand wash in a sink by gently swirling the clothes in cool water; never twist or wring out wool or silk.
  2. 2. Use a mild detergent with a pH below 7 for wool, such as Infinity Heavenly Horsetail, available in       health food stores. A mild liquid castile soap such as Dr. Bronner’s baby soap is best for cleaning silk, since it won’t strip the natural oils. Any harsh lye-based soap with a pH above 10 will destroy silk.
  3. 3. If necessary, spot clean stain with vinegar or lemon juice, but test for dye color fastness first.
  4. 4. Gently press water from the garment. Block wool—lay it flat on a towel and stretch it to the correct size and shape—before drying; it will dry to the blocked size. Wool is resilient and recovers quickly from wrinkling if hung. Hang dry silk.
  1. 1. Rayon absolutely must not be agitated at all; it is a weak fiber and shrinks easily.
  2. 2. Follow washing directions for cleaning wool and silk, with one big difference: rayon is an alkaline garment, and acidic detergents can harm the garment. Don’t spot clean rayon with acidic vinegar. Most all-purpose detergents will be fine to use, or a liquid castile soap. Even a harsh detergent won’t harm rayon. But be careful, not too strong detergent.
  3. 3. Gently press out water, and hang dry.
It take some work to clean it, but you will learn something new. For those who don't have time, try to find green Dry Cleaner in you area, which is safe for you from dangerous chemical. Try your best.

How To Clean Silk

Silk is a delicate fabric and should be handled with care. However, it is fairly easy to clean. It has a naturally tendency to release dirt quickly and does not always require dry cleaning to keep its quality.

Washing Silk Items

  1. Gently handwash silk items using very cold water.
  2. Apply a very mild detergent such as Woolite or Dr. Bronner’s Baby Soap (this soap will help preserve the garment’s natural oils).
  3. Rinse the item in cold water until all soap residue has been removed.
  4. Add a few drops of hair conditioner to the rinse water to keep the silk soft and flexible.
  5. Press the water out of the fabric by rolling it in a towel. Do not twist or wring, as this will damage the fabric.
  6. Hang the wet garment and allow it to air dry completely.
  7. Do not hang silk garments in the sun to dry.
  8. Iron only when absolutely necessary. Use a cool iron with a press cloth between the iron and the fabric.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Unless the tag on your silk fabric recommends dry cleaning, it should be avoided as dry cleaning will shrink certain types of silk.
  • Use lemon juice or vinegar to spot clean, but test an inconspicuous area first to test for colorfastness.
  • Be gentle – it’s the agitation from washing that causes this material to shrink. Even the gentle cycle on the washer is too rough for this delicate fabric.
  • To keep silk from yellowing, add ½ cup of vinegar to the rinse water.
  • Since silk is a natural fiber, do not use bleach as it will damage the fibers.
  • Be careful not to let hairspray and perfume get on silk as the alcohol will damage the fabric.
  • If you have hard water, you may want to add a tablespoon of borax to the water prior to washing.

What Is Green Dry-cleaning

Green "Dry" Cleaning
Dry cleaning or wet cleaning? Liquid CO2 or GreenEarth? Here’s the lowdown on which dry cleaning methods are best for people and the planet.
If you are like many Americans, you’re bound to have a few items around the house that can’t be laundered in the weekly wash. And while you may have detected the faint whiff of chemicals when you picked up your freshly dry cleaned sweater last week, perhaps you didn’t think much of it. But it’s something to be concerned about.

If you’ve ever taken your clothes to a professional dry cleaner, the likelihood that they were cleaned with dangerous chemicals is quite high. Fortunately, there are ways to clean clothes bearing a “Dry Clean Only” label without harming workers, putting toxins into the environment, or bringing dangerous chemicals into your home.

Are Your Clothes Full of Perc? 
According to the Occidental College’s Pollution Prevention Center, 85 percent of the more than 35,000 dry cleaners in the United States use perchloroethylene (or perc, for short) as a solvent in the dry cleaning process.

Perc is a synthetic, volatile organic compound (VOC) that poses a health risk to humans and a threat to the environment. Minimal contact with perc can cause dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, and skin and respiratory irritation. Prolonged perc exposure has been linked to liver and kidney damage, and cancer. Perc has been identified as a “probable” human carcinogen by California’s Proposition 65.

Perc can enter the body through drinking water contamination, dermal exposure, or most frequently, inhalation. This is not only a health hazard and environmental justice issue for workers in the dry cleaning business, but for consumers who bring home clothes laden with perc. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that clothes dry cleaned with perc can elevate levels of the toxin throughout a home and especially in the room where the garments are stored. Nursing mothers exposed to perc may excrete it in their milk, placing their infants at risk.

Perc is not only hazardous for people who work in dry cleaning shops or bring home dry cleaned clothes. Perc can also get into our air, water, and soil during the cleaning, purification, and waste disposal phases of dry cleaning, according to the EPA.
What Are Your Options? 
The good news is that there are nontoxic cleaning alternatives that are just as effective as dry cleaning with perc.
You might be able hand wash your delicate items at home. Take these clothes to a local cleaner for pressing only, to get a professionally crisp look without the toxins. If you’d rather forego do-it-yourself methods, two alternatives rise to the top in terms of environmental and health impacts— professional wet cleaning and liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) cleaning.

There are no toxicity issues associated with either of these methods, says Peter Sinsheimer, director of the Pollution Prevention Center at Occidental College, who has been studying the effects of perc dry cleaning and its alternatives for over ten years. professional wet cleaning is a safe, energy-efficient method of cleaning “Dry Clean Only” clothes that uses water as a solvent—rather than chemicals—with a combination of special soaps and conditioners.

When you have your clothes professionally wet cleaned, they are laundered in a computer-controlled washer and dryer that gently clean clothes, sometimes spinning as slowly as six revolutions a minute (a typical home washing machine may rotate clothes several dozen times per minute). These special machines can be programmed for variables such as time, temperature, and mechanical action, which allow cleaners to tailor the wash according to the type of fabric.

Noam Frankel, owner of Chicago-based wet cleaner, The Greener Cleaner, says there is no need for toxins in this cleaning process, where the key lies in knowing the pH level of the stain and treating the stain accordingly. Water-based stains, which he says make up the majority of the stains most cleaners see, generally come out with the standard wet-cleaning process. The remaining stains are oil-based and can be removed using specialized water-based pre-spotting solutions.

Because wet cleaning is free of VOCs, it eliminates health and safety risks, as well as environmental risks associated with traditional dry cleaning. As an added benefit, the equipment and operating costs are lower. While the biggest disadvantage to wet cleaning is that it produces waste water, Sinsheimer says it is still the most energy-efficient method. Unlike the other techniques, wet cleaning does not have an energy-intensive solvent recovery system. It also saves more water than dry cleaning. So, if wet cleaning is good for people and the environment, the real question lies in the quality of the wash.

According to Sinsheimer, just about every garment that can be dry cleaned can be wet cleaned. Occidental did a comparison study between dry and wet cleaning methods, performed by establishments that switched from dry to wet cleaning, and found no major differences in quality. While Consumer Reports tested this method in 2003 and was less than thrilled with the results, Sinsheimer notes that wet cleaning machines are more sophisticated today, and cleaners well-versed in proper wet cleaning techniques are more than satisfying their customers.

“We have helped over 60 cleaners switch to wet cleaning, and they are all growing very rapidly [due to happy customers],” he says.

Liquid carbon dioxide cleaning is a method that uses pressurized liquid CO2 in place of perc, in combination with other cleaning agents. CO2 is a nonflammable and nontoxic gas that occurs naturally in the environment. It becomes a liquid solvent under high pressure.

In this process, clothes are placed in a specialized machine, which is emptied of air. The pressure in the chamber is raised by injecting gaseous CO2, and then liquid CO2 is pumped into the mix. Clothes are rotated in a cycle that lasts five to 15 minutes at room temperature. The liquid CO2 dissolves dirt, fats, and oils in the clothing. At the end of the cleaning cycle, the liquid CO2 is pumped back into the storage tank, to be reused again, if possible. The remaining CO2 is released in the air.

While CO2 is a main greenhouse gas, no new CO2 is generated with this technology, so it does not contribute to global warming, says Sinsheimer. Liquid CO2 companies recapture the CO2 that’s already a by-product of several manufacturing processes, and they then recycle it into the liquid solvent for cleaning clothes. The main drawback is that, while the CO2 itself is both cheap and abundant, the cost of a CO2 dry cleaning machine is very high—a new machine costs around $40,000. Few dry cleaners are adopting this technique for this reason.

However, in the long run, these machines will save money by eliminating the disposal and regulatory costs associated with perc. With both wet and liquid CO2 cleaning, your clothes are also professionally finished, so you get a wrinkle-free pressing and an attention to detail that likely surpasses what you can do at home.

Other Methods: Beware 
If your cleaner claims to be Earth-friendly, be sure to ask about the specific methods and chemicals she or he uses. Some dry cleaners will advertise as “green,” “organic,” or “environmentally friendly” when they are anything but safe for the Earth.

Hydrocarbon cleaning methods are not green at all. Hydrocarbon is a petroleum-based solvent and carries all the environmental concerns of petroleum, including the fact that it’s a major source of greenhouse gases.

Some hydrocarbon cleaners claim their methods are “organic,” which Sinsheimer says is misleading. “It’s the same thing as petroleum,” he says. “It’s also a VOC, though it’s not as toxic as perc.”

You might also run into cleaners that use the GreenEarth method, which replaces perc with a silicone based solvent called siloxane or D-5, which is similar to the base ingredients in deodorant and shaving creams. D-5 degrades to sand, water, and carbon dioxide. It’s chemically inert, which means no chemicals mix with your clothes while they are being cleaned. 
For the Future
The shift towards green dry cleaning is headed by California, where in January, the state committed to phasing out perc by 2023, offering grant money to cleaners that switch from perc to CO2 or wet cleaning. States like Massachusetts and New York are considering similar legislation. Contact your representatives, and ask them to support efforts to phase out perc. Also, encourage your local dry cleaner to switch to CO2 or wet cleaning.

Next time you spill coffee on your “Dry Clean Only” sweater, remember that you don’t have to put your health, workers, or the environment at risk. Wash it delicates yourself, or to find a green cleaner near you.

Alissa Dos Santos

What is PERC in Dry-cleaning Business

Why Choose a Green-Cleaning system?

PERC is dangerous to our environment, to animals, to adults and to children. We can be exposed to PERC as easily as through the air we breathe and the water we drink.

The dominant chemical used by the dry-cleaning industry to clean our garments is perchloroethylene which is also known as PERC and tetrachloroethylene. PERC is a colorless, nonflammable liquid. The largest user of PERC is the dry cleaning industry. It accounts for 80% to 85% of all dry cleaning fluid used. According to an OPPT chemical fact sheet prepared by the Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics of US Environmental Protection Agency (August 1994): “PERC does not occur naturally but is produced in large amounts by 3 US companies. Exposure to perchloroethylene can occur in the workplace or in the environment following releases to air, water, land, or groundwater. Exposure can also occur when people:
- use products containing PERC
- spend time in dry cleaning facilities that use PERC
- live above or adjacent to these dry cleaning facilities, or
- bring dry cleaned garments into their home.

PERC enters the body when breathed in with contaminated air or when consumed with contaminated food or water. It is less likely to be absorbed through skin contact. Once in the body PERC can remain, stored in fat tissue.”
Short term exposure to PERC causes neurological, kidney and liver damage. Long term exposure can cause spontaneous abortions and leukemia (Information from the US Environmental Protection Act PERC has also been found in the breast milk of nursing mothers at concentrations higher than those found in the blood. This is important and bears repeating because once PERC is in the body it can remain, stored in fat tissue. When those fats are broken down for nursing mothers to feed their babies, the PERC found in those tissues is fed directly from the mother into the baby. We can be exposed to PERC as easily as through the air we breathe and the water we drink. PERC is dangerous to our environment, to animals, to adults and to children.

The use and disposal of PERC is heavily regulated by the Canadian Environmental Protection ACT (CEPA) and while PERC is no longer produced in Canada it continues to be imported, primarily for use as a solvent in the dry-cleaning and metal-cleaning industries (

As we all know, we can regulate anything we want but regulation does not necessarily translate into safety for citizens. Accidents happen and mistakes occur. Environment Canada notes: Tetrachloroethylene has been measured in outdoor air and in the air inside homes within Canada, and has been detected in drinking water across the country and in contaminated surface waters in the Great Lakes and the St. Lawrence River. The substance is present in groundwaters in several provinces, often as a result of its inappropriate disposal and release from dry-cleaning facilities or landfills.

The reason to choose a Green-cleaning system over dry-cleaning is obvious. It’s safer. For you as the customer, for me as a worker, for our children and the environment. Perchloroethylene is a toxic substance. It is dangerous to human and animal health and it harms the very environment we depend upon.