E-Journal Bonus Article: From Perchloroethylene Dry Cleaning to Professional Wet Cleaning: Making the Health and Business Case for Reducing Toxics


Increased regulatory oversight over the use of perchloroethylene (perc) in dry cleaning establishments due to health and environmental risks have prompted many dry cleaning facilities to seek substitutes. Among the most benign alternatives is professional wet cleaning. Yet is wet cleaning viable from a business perspective? Using data from five dry cleaners that recently transitioned from perc to professional wet cleaning, this analysis reviews changes associated with cleaning performance, natural resource use, operations, labor, and associated costs. The financial assessment found that the average payback period related to the capital investments averaged 2.5 years and the average return on investment was 3.6 (using a discount rate of 5%). Higher financial returns were observed when cleaners kept their capital investments below $50,000. The performance evaluation found that garments cleaned with the wet cleaning technology came out as well as or better than with perc, especially as the cleaner became more familiar with the wet cleaning process. This analysis affirms the business case for wet cleaning, adding to the body of evidence that professional wet cleaning is not only environmentally preferable, but that it is also technically and financially feasible.

Speaker / Author: 
Joy Onasch, MS, PE
Molly Jacobs, MPH
Elyce Biddle, PhD
Month Year: 
January 2017
Page #: 
Publication Month: 
January/February 2017