People today are far more concerned about the air they breathe, the water they drink and the chemicals they use in their day-to-day life, whether it is for cleaning or washing. Use of chemicals in laundry has been an age old practice and much has been talked about it. Dry cleaning was considered the ultimate means of cleaning a garment but with growing awareness, people are getting more and more reluctant to go for it as the process involves hazardous chemicals.
Dry cleaning is not only a health hazard but it also harms the environment. Tetrachloroethylene or PERC, the chemical used for dry cleaning, could be hazardous when exposed. A number of dry cleaners are looking for alternatives to PERC. The most common alternative currently in use includes wet cleaning, using liquid carbon dioxide and green earth cleaning for clothes.
This cleaning method is a non toxic, environmentally safe alternative to dry cleaning. Wet cleaning bio-degradable detergents are made of fruits and plants like soybeans and have small molecules that can enter the fabric and clean. Accompanied with detergent for spot-cleaning stains, suitable temperature of water and right amount of agitation in the washing machine produce a clean fabric.Wet cleaning also requires a dryer, the design of which is based on the principle that water boils faster at a higher altitude with thinner air. The inside air pressure of the dryer is made lower to dry clothes with less heat, which in turn won’t make clothes shrink.
Liquid carbon dioxide dry cleaning
In this cleaning instead of water, carbon dioxide is used as the main solvent, and at the end of the cycle, carbon dioxide is pulled out from the cloths with the dirt, so there is no need of drying or heating. It is a non toxic dry cleaning alternative, but due to its high operational cost, it is least accepted by the laundry owners.
Green Earth Cleaning
In this method, liquid silicone dry cleaning solution is also used. It is odourless and also helps maintain the quality and increase the life of the fabric. Decamethylpentacyclosiloxane or D5 are the scientific name of the liquid silicone and is also used in bathing soaps.
Laundry operations have an enormous impact on the environment. Various cleaning and finishing processes use vast amount of energy and water while the use of chemicals causes air pollution, toxic waste and sewage problems. This can be saved by proper care in purchases, operations and procedures.Gagan Soni and Rachna Chandan, Lecturers Housekeeping, BCIHM&CT, New Delhi.