O's Green Guide to Dry Cleaning
Take your business elsewhere if your dry cleaner or clothes smell of solvents—it's a sign that the machines aren't properly maintained. Look for cleaners that use green methods: pairing liquid CO2 (like carbonated soda) with earth-safe detergents or using biodegradable, silicon-based solvents, for example. Get a nationwide list of eco-friendly cleaners at www.epa.gov/dfe/pubs/garment/gcrg/cleanguide.pdf.
Know Your Terms
Many cleaners call themselves "organic," but use of the word is unregulated in the industry. Technically, any carbon-based compound is organic—including perc. If you use a so-called organic cleaner, ask for specifics.
Don't take those DRY-CLEAN ONLY tags too literally. For solid-colored wool or rayon, use the delicate cycle with a safe detergent (like Woolite); for more precious cargo, mix a little baby shampoo with tepid water right in your bathtub. You'll protect the Earth and your wallet—but if it's angora or has a lining, leave it to the pros.
Green your closet with compostable hangers from WheatWare.com ($18.50 for a case of 20), and return wire hangers to your cleaner for reuse.
Quick Change: Say goodbye to those pesky plastic wrappers forever: Use the convertible Dry Greening bag as a tote when you take clothes to the dry cleaner and as a garment bag when you pick them up ($10; Dry-Greening.com).