It’s no secret—dry cleaning is bad for the environment.
In the US about 70% of all dry cleaners use perchloroethylene (PERC), a known toxic air pollutant, as a cleaning solvent. Chemicals in this substance can react in the air to form ground level ozone (smog).
PERC is as dangerous for human health as it is for the environment. It is classified as a probable carcinogen and can enter the body through respiration or through the skin.

What is Dry Cleaning?

Because of the word "dry" we tend to think that there are no liquids involved in this process. This is actually not true! In the case of professional dry cleaning, "dry" simply means the absence of water. In place of water, chemical solvents and solutions are used to saturate and clean the article. A special drying machine is then used to dry the garment. This process is recommended for garments that water can have a damaging effect on, or materials that might be damaged through tumble drying or sun drying.

So are there alternatives to Dry Cleaning?

It is important to note that most natural and synthetic fibers can be washed at home in water with gentle care and gentle soap. This is the method I use 95% of the time. Always use your discretion when it comes to delicate fibers, dyes that are not colorfast, and garments with pleats or structure that water might destroy.

Aside from fully immersing your articles in water (in the washing machine or hand washing) or having them full immersed in solvents (dry cleaning) your options from here won't fully CLEAN the garment, but they can help sanitize and deodorize!

Dry Cleaning Alternatives


Steamers are often the unsung hero of a true fashion lover's tool kit. Not only are they perfect for reducing wrinkles in clothing, but most top brands claim that their steamers can kill 99 percent of germs, odors, dust mites, and bed bugs.

Vodka Spray

A trick learned from my days in theatre-  Vodka's effectiveness comes from it's high alcohol content which helps to not only disinfect, but also kill the bacteria that causes odor. Vodka kills bacteria by dissolving the cell membranes of the bacterial cells. It then dries odorless itself, and when it evaporates, so does the stink. READ MORE HERE

At Home Dry Cleaning kit

As I continued to search for economical and earth friendly ways to clean clothing for my vintage resale business, I came across the Dryel at home Dry Cleaner Starter Kit and the Dryel At Home Dry Cleaner Kit. It seemed too good to be true, but after researching the company and reading up on the ingredient lists, I decided to give it a try. While it is not 100% non-toxic because of chemical fragrance in the cleaning solution, and it does include some single-use plastic in the packaging, it is definitely a more earth-friendly alternative to dry cleaning.
How to use Dryel
The kit comes with:
- a stain pen
- a boosting solvent spray (to release odors and wrinkles)
- an activated cleaning cloth (this releases steam that kills bacteria and removes odors)
-a fabric protection bag.
Use the pen on small stains.
Spray entire garment with the boosting spray (especially armpits and anywhere sweat might have affected the article).
Add an activated cleaning cloth to the protection bag.
Place article in bag and zip closed.
Place in dryer for 15-30 minutes.
This kit comes with 14 cloths so it costs around $1.50 per 1-2 articles. It is easy to purchase refill spray and cleaning cloths when needed.

In Summary...

Sometimes the only choice is to take something to the professionals to clean. But when it comes to getting things refreshed or sanitized so they can have a few more wears (instead of resorting to the dry cleaners every time!), there are options that can save you time and money! I hope this helps you expand your personal clothing care tool kit and gives some insight on some methods that can help clean and refresh your articles in an earth friendly and cost-effective way!
Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.