Green Dry Cleaning

by Karen Diaz Colon

David Kistner founder of Green Apple Cleaners (2015. )Picture of the Solvair Cleaning with CO2 Dry Cleaning machine. Retrieved from David Kistner.

What is Green Dry Cleaning ?

Green Dry Cleaning is an innovative cleaning solution that complies with the principles of green chemistry, and trending in NY due to being environmentally friendly. There are 2 green dry cleaning methods: Professional wet-cleaning and Carbon dioxide cleaning. The focus will be on using CO2 for dry cleaning. CO2 is used by pressurization to become a liquid solvent for dry cleaning use. It is a recycled by-product from other industries maximizing atom economy and since no new CO2 is produced, it does not contribute to global warming. CO2 is non toxic to humans nor the environment eliminating the cost for disposal. The method of using CO2 for dry cleaning does not require heat for drying garments, which makes the method energy efficient (Dos Santos, 2006).

What are the benefit of Using a Green Dry Cleaner?

The use of CO2 for dry cleaning is safe for consumer, eliminating exposure to chemical odors from the garments, or skin contact. The use of CO2 dry cleaning method also prolongs the color and lifespan of the garment, as well as prevents it from shrinkage since no heat is used in the process. While the price of service is more expensive for the consumer, the value of a cleaner garment that is safer to the consumer, and the environment is worth the extra cost according to Kirsys from Cameo Cleaners (personal communication 11/4/15).

85 % of the estimated 35,000 Dry Cleaner in the United States use Tetrachloroethylene, also referred to as Perchloroethylene (PERC) according to Dos Santos(2006).

What is PERC?

PERC is a non polar solvent used to dissolve hydrophobic oil and stains. According to the International Chemical Safety Card (2000) PERC component is 1, 1, 2, 2-TETRACHLOROETHYLENE. PERC is a volatile liquid with a boiling point of 121 C, freezing point -22 C and contaminates the air on evaporations at 20 C. The primary route of exposure is inhalation of vapors and ingestion of contaminated water.
Short term exposure can result in skin, eyes and respiratory track irritation. May cause central nervous system damage and unconsciousness at high levels.
Long term exposure can result in liver and kidney damage, skin dermatitis, and possibly cancer.
“Tetrachloroethylene is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen based on sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity from studies in experimental animals” ( Report on Carcinogens, Thirteenth Edition, 2014).

How are you exposed to PERC?

According to Reducing Workers exposure to Perchloroethylen In Dry Cleaning (2005) PERC can cause dizziness, drowsiness, loss of coordination, mild memory loss, and visual problem upon exposure. Exposure to PERC occurs primarily to workers while loading dirty clothing into the machine while PERC air contamination is present, while removing wet clothing from the tank to the dryer, cleaning lints or changing filters, and handling storage of PERC.
The general population could also be at risk of exposure to PERC from dry cleaned clothing. According to Report of Carcinogen (n.d) the concentration of PERC may be 2 to 30 times higher in homes with dry cleaned clothing in a closet than normal. Studies conducted in urban areas showed higher concentration of PERC in apartment building with dry cleaning facilities within them, placing the general public at an increase risk.

What is being done to reduce PERC exposure ?

The use of PERC has declined since the 1990’s due to the changes in government regulations of its use and storage in the workplace. Under the New Clean Air Act in 1993 all Dry Cleaners that weren’t equipped with carbon absorbers were required to install refrigerant condensers on their dry cleaning machines to reduce emission by up to 80 percent. Dry Cleaning companies with an annual sale income under 75,000 were exempt, requiring only leak detection inspections. In 2006 a rule prohibited the use of PERC in dry cleaners located in residential buildings (EPA Regulates Dry Cleaners in First Air Toxic Rule Under New Clean Air Act, 2015). Some states such as California have banned the use of PERC by the year 2023, and have had an increase of dry cleaners convert to organic dry cleaning.

Cameo Dry Cleaners

Located in New York, Cameo Dry Cleaners have been in business for over 50 years and uses ECO2 cleanse process that utilize the Solvair Cleaning System. According to Kearsey (person communication 11/10/15) Cameo Cleaners take pride in being environmentally friendly and providing top service to their customers which don't mind paying a higher cost for quality service. Dry Cleaning with CO2 is safer for consumers, eliminating contact with chemicals from garments and prolongs the lifespan of the clothing. The color of garments stay brighter, and they don't get yellow nor shrink since no heat is used in the process.

Green Apple Cleaners

Located in New York and New Jersey, Green Apple Cleaners uses Solvair Cleaning System utilizing CO2. One of the founders David Kistner, was inspired by the new technology of dry cleaning with CO2
and his concerns as a new parent of the dangers of the dry cleaning chemicals his family could be exposed to. David and his partner were motivated to increase human health and the environment with Green Dry Cleaning. Green Apple Cleaners recycles hangers, and uses recycled garment bags (Kistner, David personal communication 11/19/15).

Solvair Cleaning Process

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David Kistner (2008). The Process of Solvair CO2 Dry Cleaning. Retrieved from

· Clothes is placed in the specialized machine
· Biodegradable cleaning liquid is used to remove stains and dirt from garments
· Machine is pressurized and liquid CO2 is released into the machine
· The biodegradable cleaning liquid is attracted to the CO2, removing the cleaning liquid from garments in the cool rinse and drain cycle
· Machine pressure is reduced converting CO2 from liquid to gas, drying the garments instantly
· Cleaning Liquid and CO2 is purified and reused
Rodriguez, Kirsys (personal communication 11/10/15)


Dos Santos, Alissa (2006). Green “Dry” Cleaning. Retrieved November 7, 2015 from
EPA Regulates Dry Cleaners in First Air Toxic Rule Under New Clean Air Act ( 1993).United States Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved on 11/4/15 from
Green apple cleaners (2008). Non-toxic dry cleaning. Retrieved on 11/18/15 from
International Chemical Safety Card (2000). Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved 10/28/15 from
Kistner, David (11/19/15). Green Apple Cleaners. Email interview.
Rodriguez, Kirsys (11/10/15). Cameo Cleaners. Phone interview
Reducing Workers exposure to Perchloroethylene(PERC) In Dry Cleaning (2005). United States Department of Labor. Retrieved on 10/20/15 from
Report of Carcinogens (n.d). National Toxicology Program. Department of Health and Human Services. Thirteenth Edition. Retrieved on Nov 4th, 2015 from