With perchloroethylene (perc) being phased out in many territories around the world, dry cleaners need to find alternative solvents that are safer, more environmentally friendly, and yet still clean without harming the garment. SGS offers a range of services to industry suppliers to help them assess dry cleaning using the safer silicone-based solvent and the proprietary GreenEarth cleaning system.
SGS’s testing services also help stakeholders assess the appearance and dimensional stability of garments during and after the dry cleaning process. In addition, their consultants can help garment manufacturers evaluate the suitability of different types of textile against the newer dry cleaning methods.
Dry cleaning is any cleaning process for clothing and textiles that uses a chemical solvent rather than water. The process is employed when fabrics are liable to degrade in water or are too delicate to survive the rough and tumble of a washing machine and clothes dryer.
Until recently, perc has been the main dry cleaning solvent. It is excellent at degreasing and deodorizing fabrics without altering the garment but it also presents a risk to humans and the environment. Studies have shown that perc can cause cancer, as well as kidney and liver damage. Lesser symptoms, resulting from short-term exposure, include dizziness, headaches and unconsciousness.
The US Environment Protection Agency (EPA) classifies perc as a Toxic Air Contaminant and is working towards the phasing out of perc dry-cleaning. The EPA has ordered the prohibition of all existing perc dry cleaning machines in co-residential facilities by December 21, 2020. The state of California is committed to the complete phasing out perc by 2023.
Safe, non-toxic alternatives to perc do exist. These include:
- Professional wet cleaning – uses water and special equipment that gently washes, dries and restores fabrics
- Liquid carbon dioxide (CO2) cleaning – uses liquid, pressurized CO2
- Green dry-cleaning – uses liquid silicone, decamethylcyclopentasiloxane (D5)
For ‘green’ cleaning, D5 offers a number of advantages. It is a clear, odorless silicone based solvent (siloxane), which is considered to be both non-toxic and non-hazardous.
Its chemical properties make it the ideal fabric cleaner. It has a very low surface tension that allows a more effective penetration into the fabric fibers to release dirt and it is chemically inert and shows no chemical reaction with textile fabric or dyes during the cleaning process. This helps eliminate problems associated with dye removal and dye bleeding, minimizes abrasion to and/or swelling of fabric fibers which results in less damage to plastic trims and printing, and minimizes shrinkage. D5 has been used safely and effectively in deodorants, sunscreens, hairsprays and skin care products, for a number of years.
The advantages of D5 have made it the principal component of the patented GreenEarth Cleaning solution. According to GreenEarth, D5 is completely safe and biodegradable, it simply degrades into sand (SiO2), water and carbon dioxide, leaving no toxic residue if released into the atmosphere, making it safe for air, water and soil.
SGS Softline Services
With a global network of over 40 laboratories, manned by a team of professionals from multi-disciplinary backgrounds, SGS provide a comprehensive range of physical, chemical and functional testing services for components, materials and finished products. They help manufacturers ensure quality, performance and compliance with international, industrial and regulatory standards worldwide. Learn more about SGS’s Softline Services.
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For further information contact:
Director Technical Support, Softlines
Tel: +1 973 461 7919
About SGSSGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognized as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 90,000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 2,000 offices and laboratories around the world.