Dry cleaners and industrial laundries
The textile care industry, including dry cleaners and industrial laundries, is continually changing. In the past few years, more and more states have considered enacting legislation to phase out the use of perchloroethylene (PERC) solvent at dry cleaners, or increase the compliance requirements to prevent environmental contamination. Industrial laundries servicing print or shop towels are regulated due to the solvents in the materials being laundered. The DNR is here not only to provide dry cleaning and laundry owners support through compliance assistance, but also to provide valuable resources to increase your company’s bottom line, expand on your customer base, save time as well as money, and stay ahead of the legislative curve.
Industrial laundry emissions
Materials laundered by industrial laundries can contain substantial amounts of VOCs from solvents when laundering print or shop towels, however uniforms and rugs or hospitality related materials are likely to have only incidental solvent content, if any. The DNR created a fact sheet for Industrial Laundry Facilities (AM-561) to describe how to estimate emissions and determine whether an air permit may be required.
Dry cleaning compliance calendar
The DNR biannually puts together a compliance calendar to assist Wisconsin dry cleaners with compliance. It provides a guide to regulations as well as a way to keep track of documentation and ensure all your business’ records can be found in one place.
- 2020-2021 cover letter
- 2020-2021 Dry Cleaning Compliance Calendar (SB-200)
- 2020 Perc Solvent Purchase Summary
- 2021 Perc Solvent Purchase Summary
Training on waste management and air pollution
In February 2020, DNR staff conducted a webinar with Wisconsin Fabricare Institute (WFI) that went through key requirements that dry cleaners might be missing on their hazardous waste requirements as well as a few air pollution requirements. To view the webinar, go to the WFI home page and click on the link below the slideshow: Wisconsin Fabricare Institute (WFI).
Information on PERC requirements
The Dry Cleaner Environmental Response Fund (DERF) Program was established to help dry cleaners pay the cost of investigating and cleaning up contamination caused by the release of dry cleaning solvents. They put together a fact sheet on dry cleaning Facility Requirements to Minimize Spills (RR-636).
The EPA requires that all dry cleaners must conduct monthly inspections for perchloroethylene (PCE) leaks using a halogenated hydrocarbon detector or PCE gas analyzer. Any brand can be utilized. See Halogenated Leak Detector Options for more information.
For a short summary of requirements in Korean: Basic Air Pollution Monitoring for Small Dry Cleaners (Korean).
Each year shops are required to file a report by March 1: Annual Perc Usage Report
Plastic bags used to cover dry cleaned items may be recycled. Learn more on Reducing, reusing and recycling plastic bags and wrap. Maybe you have space to provide a collection bin.
If not already doing so, consider recycling common office equipment that may be found in your shop. Learn about Business and workplace recycling.
General compliance assistance
In 1996, the EPA published a Plain English Guide for Perc Dry Cleaners to help dry cleaners understand and follow complicated compliance regulations. In the same year they also released a Profile of the Dry Cleaning Industry. Although dated, both provide valuable information on basic regulatory requirements for the industry.
For more resources to help your dry cleaning establishment comply with environmental regulations and improve your environmental footprint, please visit the following website:
- EPA's Dry Cleaning Sector
Best management practices
Helpful tips to enhance the bottom line and save money
The DNR has put together a one page quick-guide resource for Dry Cleaning: Best Management Practices. For more detailed and expanded information and tips, the University of Tennessee put together an entire handbook on Clearing the Air on Clean Air: Strategies for Perc Drycleaners.
If you're looking to save money and resources in a particular area, check out the below guides and initiatives.
- Dry Cleaning Waste Reduction
- Laundries and Dry-Cleaning Operations
- Managing Energy Costs in Dry Cleaners
- Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative offers recognition for your business if you use a safer detergent in washing clothes.
Consider utilizing or selling green resources
With the number of consumers demanding green products, services and industries increasing each year, businesses incorporating sustainability into their practices are finding an increased customer base and enhanced bottom line through the formulation of a competitive advantage. Providing reusable or biodegradable garment bags and reusing or recycling hangers are just a couple of the many things you can do to green your business.
UCLA conducted a research study on the process of dry cleaners switching over from traditional PERC to professional wet cleaning, Sacramento Municipal Utility District Professional Wet Cleaning Demonstration Project. The results were strongly in favor of the wet cleaning method. Additional resources on switching solvents can be found below.
- Comparison of Electricity and Natural Gas Use of Fine Garment Care Technologies (2009)
- Have you considered a switch to wet-cleaning?
Dry cleaning solvents compared
The DNR has put together a one page Solvent quick fact sheet to provide a brief comparison of the main dry cleaning solvents available. More detailed state and city sponsored solvent comparisons can be found in the following reports put together by San Francisco and the state of Kansas, respectively.
- Comparison of wet-cleaning and dry-cleaning methods, November 2012
Additionally, the State Coalition for Remediation of Dry Cleaners put together its own solvent comparison called Chemicals Used in Dry Cleaning Operations.
Good Housekeeping conducted independent testing on various dry cleaning solvent methods comparing the cleaning capabilities of each. Their results can be found at the Good Housekeeping website.
For more information on loans, grants and other programs designed to help small businesses, see the financial resources pages.