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Historically, dry cleaning has typically involved the use of Perc (Perchloroethylene also known as Tetrachloroethylene) to clean garments in machines generally classified from 1st to 5th generation, the most recent generation being the most efficient. Innovations in dry cleaning machines have caused Perc emissions and waste to decrease, as few if any new Perc using dry cleaning machines are being demonstrated or even sold today.

Innovations in cleaning solvents have also contributed to fewer Perc emissions. Owners and operators of dry cleaning operations have explored the use of solvent alternatives such as heated hydrocarbons, Methyl Siloxane (Green Earth), SK4 or Solvon K4, and most recently, Sensene (Alkopropanol formulation – Dow). Additionally, some operations have expanded usage of wet cleaning processes when a garment manufacturer’s label does not require dry cleaning only. Wet cleaning does require operator training for the use of tensioning equipment, but can be a successful alternative to dry cleaning processes that utilize Perc.

Jon Meijer, Director of Membership, Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI) gave a presentation to the National SBEAP (Small Business Environmental Assistance Program) regarding “Alternative Solvent Trends, Misconceptions and the State of the Industry”.

Tim Maxwell, President, GreenEarth Cleaning® gave a presentation to the National SBEAP on December 20, 2016 on the topic, “GreenEarth® as a Replacement Cleaning System in the Garment Care Industry and its Consequences” [PDF].

The standards of 40 CFR 63 Subpart M - National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants (NESHAP) for Perchloroethylene (Perc) Dry cleaning Facilities, were created and are enforced by the U.S. EPA to reduce emissions of Perchloroethylene (PCE) from new and existing dry cleaning facilities in the industrial and commercial sectors of the dry cleaning industry. Furthermore, Subpart M requires that dry cleaning operations that are co-residential (within the same building as occupied residences), cease the use of Perc by 2020.

The Compliance and Technical Assistance Program (CTAP) and the Midwest Dry cleaning & Laundry Association (MWDLA) have collaborated to develop and provide educational resources, including: templates, guides, an instructional video, and training workshops outlining the requirements of Subpart M and appropriate compliance measures.

CTAP Staff can also conduct in-person site visits to dry cleaning facilities to help owners and operators understand how to comply with all applicable environmental regulations, or implement pollution prevention measures.

Compliance Assistance Resources:

Perc Drycleaner Information

Separator Water

Hazardous Waste


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