Dry cleaner waste

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

Apply for our PERC equipment replacement program

Dry cleaners that use perchloroethylene (PERC) can apply for reimbursement to replace their equipment. Get up to:

  • $40,000 to switch to professional wet cleaning, or
  • $10,000 to switch to hydrocarbon.

What are the risks of PERC?

  • Health and safety risks.
  • Contaminates air, soil, and drinking water.
  • Can cost your business more in the long run.

Learn more about our PERC equipment replacement program.

How should you dispose of separator water?

Always manage separator water as dangerous waste:

  • Collect it in a container (leave 4 inches between fill line and lid).
  • Label the container "toxic waste" and write the accumulation start date.
  • Store it inside using secondary containment.

Read the steps outlined on our Collect, Empty, and Dispose of Separator Water poster.

  • Do not dispose of it down a drain, toilet, or sink.
  • Do not evaporate or mist it.
  • Do not pour it on the ground.

What types of wastes are common at dry cleaners?

Most dry cleaning and garment care facilities have similar types of dangerous waste.

  • Aerosol cans
  • Absorbent materials contaminated with dangerous waste (often PERC)
  • Lint (often 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

How can your business reduce pollution?

  • 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.
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