Dry cleaners

Dry cleaning and garment care generate dangerous waste. Chemicals in these wastes can contaminate machinery and water, and can be hazardous to workers. We work with local businesses to ensure dangerous waste is handled safely and correctly.

Why should I stop using Perchloroethylene (PERC)?

Using PERC:
  • Puts the health and safety of you and your workers at risk.
  • Contaminates air, soil, and drinking water.
  • Can increase your regulatory oversight due to a change in generator status.
  • Can cost your business more in the long run.

Will I be compensated for switching to an alternative?

Some areas in Washington offer financial incentives for businesses to switch from PERC to professional wet cleaning.

Find out if your county offers financial incentives

King County

Hazardous Waste Management Program

All other counties

Jeffrey Gutschmidt

What should I use instead?

Professional wet cleaning is the safest alternative to PERC. Professional wet cleaning uses water and detergents to clean all fabrics, including “dry clean only” fabrics.

Professional wet cleaning:

  • Is the safest method.
  • Is as effective as PERC for cleaning.
  • Eliminates hazardous waste.
  • May lower your operating costs.
We can help you explore alternatives to PERC. Contact your regional office to speak with a Toxics Reduction Specialist.

What types of wastes are common at dry cleaners?

Most dry cleaning and garment care facilities have these types of dangerous waste:

  • Aerosol cans
  • Absorbent materials contaminated with dangerous waste (often PERC)
  • Lint (contaminated with PERC or other hazardous products that become waste)
  • Detergents and cleaners
  • Machinery (like machine filters) contaminated with PERC or other dangerous waste
  • Mercury light bulbs and lamps
  • Solvents:
    • Spotting agents
    • PERC
    • Trichloroethylene
    • Sludge or “bottoms” from solvent stills that recycle solvents
    • Toluene
    • MEK
    • Glycol ethers liquid silicone
    • Liquid CO2
    • Brominate solvents
    • Other solvents
  • Used shop towels
  • Water (wash water, separator water) and muck, contaminated with PERC

Dangerous waste codes for PERC

Waste PERC, and anything contaminated with PERC, will have the waste code F002. You may have more waste codes,depending on other chemicals you use.

Designate your waste to determine which waste codes apply.

Machine filters

Filters may be contaminated with PERC or halogenated organic compounds (HOCs). Most filters designate as F002. Test filters to fully determine their waste code.

Disposing of refrigerated condensers on dryer vents

Be sure the temperature in the outlet is at or below 45 degrees Fahrenheit (F).

Activated carbon adsorbers on dryer vents

If the concentration is higher than 100 parts per million (ppm), you must regenerate or replace the absorber. The activated carbon is a dangerous waste when depleted.

Measure the concentration with a:

  • Colorimetric detector tube
  • Hand-held detector

Pollution prevention for dry cleaning and garment care shops

  • Use newer, more efficient equipment (like a closed loop dry-to-dry system) to reduce solvent use and waste.
  • Replace activated carbon adsorber PERC traps with a refrigerated condenser to reduce PERC-contaminated separator water.
  • Dissolve any additive completely before the solvent goes through the filter.
  • Fill the filter housing completely with solvent when you are not using the equipment.
  • Keep solvent return temperatures at or below 90 degrees F or 32 degrees Centigrade (C) when you run the still. This decreases solvent loss through the storage tank vent.
  • Inspect equipment and piping regularly for leaks, worn parts, proper temperatures, and solvent "mileage." Repair problems quickly.
  • Dispose of separator water as dangerous waste. Do not dispose of it down a drain.