Truth About Dry Cleaning


Although most of us have used dry cleaners in the past, even those of us who use them on a frequent basis aren’t really sure what it is and what it involves. With many dry cleaners jumping on the green bandwagon, calling themselves organic and green, it just further adds to the confusion.

Here are the simple facts.


Simply put, dry cleaning is a process of cleaning garments in a liquid other than water.  There is nothing dry about dry cleaning; all forms of dry cleaning use a liquid to clean textiles.

Modern dry cleaning is thought to have been discovered accidentally in France during the late 1800’s. Someone spilled turpentine on an oily fabric with set-in stains, and every stain the turpentine touched came clean. Thus, the idea of “dry cleaning” fabric in a liquid other than water was born. Turpentine and other petroleum-based solvents used in early dry cleaning were highly toxic, flammable chemicals that gave off vapors dangerous to breathe.

Organic Cleaners Exposed

“Uses Petroleum-based solvent and advertises as an organic dry cleaner”
Globe & Mail

“Called organic because petroleum is extracted from the earth” – Globe & Mail

“Using the term “˜Organic’ in a blatantly misleading way” – New York Times

“The solvent which is petroleum based, was a “˜cleaned up version of gasoline’ and only slightly less toxic than perc.” – New York Times

“You’ve probably spotted the big ‘organic’ signs hanging in the windows of more and more dry cleaners lately. Don’t be fooled. That dry-cleaning compound is as organic as petroleum (in fact it’s petroleum-based hydrocarbons)” – Now Magazine (Busting “Organic” dry cleaners)

Turpentine and other petroleum-based solvents used in early dry cleaning were highly toxic,
flammable chemicals that gave off vapors dangerous to breathe.

Unfortunately not much has changed, toxic chemicals are still the main stay of dry cleaning,
and the only thing that has changed is the flammability.


(Why Organic cleaners are misleading consumers)

  • Organic dry cleaners use Petroleum Hydrocarbon to clean your garments.  Yes, Petroleum!  Although classified as a toxic chemical, petroleum hydrocarbon dry cleaning is called organic because it is extracted from the earth.
  • Marketed as “Environmentally Friendly Cleaning“, “Organic Cleaning“, “Green Cleaning“ and even Non-toxic Cleaning“, although petroleum is toxic.
  • Nearly all cleaners (the exception being silicone) are, technically speaking, organic, which simply means that the cleaning solvent they use contains carbon.  This includes Perc.
  • The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) certifies agricultural businesses as organic based on a list of requirements. Dry cleaning is not FDA-regulated, and in the world of chemistry, “organic” means anything with carbon in its molecular makeup. This definition includes all petroleum-based products “” even perc.
  • Organic dry cleaning is Classified as a Hazardous Air Pollutant
  • Organic dry cleaning is Classified as a Volatile Organic Compound
  • Government studies found evidence of carcinogenic activity in male rats exposed to Organic dry cleaning solvents
  • Organic dry cleaning solvents can be irritating to the eyes, nose, throat, and can also have effects on the nervous system based on in-depth studies by the California EPA and Air Resources Board.
  • Hydrocarbon solvent is associated with a range of adverse respiratory and cardiovascular health effects and contributes to increased hospitalizations and deaths. – Toronto Public Health
  • Brand names include SATEC, DF-2000, Hydrocarbon, Stoddard Solvent, PureDry and ECOSOLV.  Manufactured by big oil companies like Exxon Mobil, Shell Mobil and Chevron Mobil.  (Their websites actually name their Organic dry cleaning process as Petroleum)


  • Perchloroethylene (or perc) is the primary dry cleaning solvent used by the vast majority of dry cleaners. An estimated 70-80% of dry cleaners use Perc.
  • Perc is linked to cancer, liver disease, kidney disease and reproductive disorders.
  • Perc can enter the body simply through inhalation or touch.
  • Studies show Perc causes cancer in laboratory rats.
  • 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.
  • Declared hazardous to the environment by the Canadian Environmental Protection Act
  • Environmental Protection Agency studies found Perc on the breaths of people who had recently visited a dry cleaners using Perc.
  • Perc is a major groundwater contaminant in more than one-quarter of U.S. water supplies.
  • Puddles of perc was found on the bottom of Ontario`s St. Clair River
  • Greenpeace reports that an estimated one million plus people in the U.S. are at risk due to elevated levels of perc in their homes
  • Ironically, perc was introduced in the 1930`s as a “safer” alternative because it has no flash point (not flammable).


  • Consumer Reports found that dry cleaned clothes can off-gas toxic chemicals gases into your homes for up to a week.
  • Consumer Reports and prominent bio-engineers recommend you air out your dry cleaned clothes outside for 2-3 days before bringing them into your homes.
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies found that levels of dry cleaning chemicals remained in a home for as long as one week after placing newly dry cleaned clothes in a closet
  • Consumer reports found that people who wear at least one piece of dry cleaned clothes 2-3 times a week have an increased risk of cancer
  • Globe & Mail, CP24 and CBS News all reported on the dangers of dry cleaning exposing consumers to toxic chemicals residues and its risk of causing cancer


Eco Cleaners is Canada’s first non-toxic dry cleaners. We are proud to be the first dry cleaners in the nation that to not use perc or petroleum. We are 100% non-toxic and environmentally friendly. Here are some facts about our dry cleaning process.

  • Our process uses liquefied sand, or pure liquid silicone
  • 100% non-toxic (oral, dermal & inhalation)
  • No hazardous chemicals
  • Completely bio-degradable, no risk to the air, water or soil
  • Non-allergenic & Non-irritating to skin
  • Produces cleaner, brighter, softer garments
  • Gentler on fabrics, lengthening the life of clothes
  • Most extensively tested dry cleaning process in history
  • EPA exempted from volatile organic compound rules
  • EPA found it is not a hazardous air pollutant
  • Declared not harmful to the Environment by the Government of Canada
  • So safe even if swallowed it has the same effects as salt, pepper or talc