Wet Cleaning

During the 1990s, CNT performed research, outreach, and education in the fabricare industry that were unprecedented in scope and professionalism. CNT and its partners demonstrated the viability of techniques and technologies that reduce or eliminate the use of solvents hazardous to workers and communities. As a result, safer alternatives were promoted and advanced. Today, the alternative of “wetcleaning”, which uses water to clean clothes that were traditionally drycleaned, is broadly accepted in the industry. A wealth of wetcleaning resources now exist where before there were few. The results are helping to transform the garment care industry into a healthier, more efficient industry.

With funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and others, CNT began a research project with The Greener Cleaner, a privately-owned 100 percent wetcleaning shop. In 1996, the final report from this alternative clothes cleaning demonstration shop explored the viability of emerging technology, and helped boost wetcleaning from a curiosity viewed mostly with skepticism to a technology improved upon by hundreds of cleaners. Cooperating with industry trade associations and others, CNT staff contributed expertise to help create pollution prevention recognition and certification programs. Staff also assisted the Federal Trade Commission in considering new garment care labeling.

Read the review of CNT’s work in the Resource Guide.

The following funders made CNT’s research on the fabricare industry possible:
United States Environmental Protection Agency-Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Design for the Environment Program, Garment and Textile Care Program, Environmental Justice Small Grants Program, and the Great Lakes National Program Office, Great Lakes Protection Fund, State of Illinois Department of Natural Resources- Waste Management and Research Center, and Charles Stewart Mott Foundation.

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