What’s wrong with dry cleaning?

Dry cleaning isn’t dry or clean. It’s called dry cleaning because chemicals are used instead of water as the cleaning agent. The most popular chemical solvent is called PERC (short for perchloroethylene). PERC creates hazardous waste, pollutes soil and air, contaminates water, and poses serious health risks to all the people who handle it – including the workers, consumers, and even people who live near dry cleaners. Despite being labelled toxic under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act in 1997, more than 80 per cent of dry cleaners in Canada still use PERC.

Professional wet cleaning is an environmentally friendly, and toxic-free alternative to conventional dry cleaning. It uses small amounts of water and biodegradable soap in computer-controlled machines to clean even the most delicate of fabrics. This method of garment care isn’t just effective at removing stains and odour. It also extends the longevity of your clothes by ensuring fibres are protected.

What’s an alternative to dry cleaning?

Do you work in the fashion industry and want to help improve garment care in Canada?

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Would you like more information about wet cleaning, including how to find a wet cleaner near you?

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Messages of support for wet cleaning in Canada

Meet all of our wet cleaning champions.

“After WW2 ended, most businesses would not hire anyone with Japanese heritage so in order to make a living, my father’s family decided to run their own dry cleaning operation. My father often came home with terrible burns on his hands and arms from the chemicals used in the dry cleaning process and I would ask him about the marks. He knew it wasn’t safe or healthy but there weren’t other options at the time. Out of 6 siblings on my father’s side, 4 died from cancer. We now know how toxic those chemicals are to inhale and to handle. It’s too late for my dad and for his siblings but we can start to make a change for the better, to create a safer working environment for those who work in the dry cleaning business by switching to wet cleaning.”

– Susan Langdon, Executive Director, Toronto Fashion Incubator

Photo credit: Ted Belton

“Wet cleaning is such an awesome and easy solution to the nasty impacts of conventional dry cleaning. It has the same great results, is safe on a crazy wide range of fabrics, and helps you avoid gross chemicals like PERC. At Reformation, we are big fans, and always steer our customers to their favorite local wet cleaner.”

– Kathleen Talbot, VP Operations and Sustainability, Reformation

“There’s so much green wash out there with dry cleaners claiming to be eco-friendly and organic, most people don’t realize the only legitimately planet-friendly option is wet cleaning. If I can’t hand wash an item myself, I bring all my dry clean only clothes to a wet cleaner – structured blazers, winter coats, you name it. It does an awesome job, without polluting the environment. Until we ban more toxic dry cleaning methods, I’d LOVE to see more Canadians speaking up and requesting wet cleaning, more clothing stores encouraging consumers to wet clean and more government support for dry cleaners looking to convert to wet cleaning.”

– Adria Vasil, Author of Ecoholic book series & columnist for NOW Magazine

Find a professional wet cleaner near you


Help us populate our wet cleaning map

Know of a wet cleaner in Canada that’s not on this map? Fill out the form below to add it.

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Our Rethink Dry Cleaning program is made possible because of the support of:

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