Today there is a lot of fanfare and talk about recycling and with good reason! Recycling is a great idea! Recycling helps conserve valuable natural resources and prevents many wastes from entering landfills, waterways, and the environment.

But many people are unaware that the cleaning industry has been practicing recycling long before it became popular! Drycleaning solvents have been recycled. for over fifty years, and with today's high technology cleaning machines, we are doing it more efficiently than ever before. Drycleaning solvents are recycled in many ways:

Distillation: After drycleaning solvent has been used to clean your garments, it is distilled in special stills to remove impurities. Like distilled water, distilled solvent is clear as crystal and ready to be used again. After repeated distillation, a "still bottom" or sludge residue is left behind. In most cases, this end waste is picked up by large recycling companies, and they treat the sludge even further to recover any remaining solvent. In this way, most cleaning solvent wastes are "double recycled. "

Filtration: Lint, dyes, and soil are removed from solvent by special filters. Some of these filters are permanent and regenerate themselves for continuous use. Others are disposable and are changed, when necessary, with new filters. Some filters use fine earth or sand Oust like many swimming pool filters), and the earth or sand is then "cooked down" to recover any residual solvent. Just like "still bottoms" from distillation, these "spent" filters are usually given to large recycling companies who will treat the "spent filters" even further to recover any remaining solvent. Some cleaners even have special "filter strippers" that allow them to recover solvent from these "spent filters" right in the plant.

Drying: When we dry your garments, special machines recapture the solvent vapors and condense them back to liquid solvent so they can be returned to the system and used again. There is also an 64aeration cycle" on many machines where fresh air is brought into the drying tumbler to remove any traces of solvent left in clothing. The air from this process is then drawn through a cold condenser or an activated carbon device (called a "sniffer") to recover any solvent vapors. In this way, any solvent loss to the atmosphere is reduced or eliminated; and that means cleaner air!


Just like gasoline mileage is an indication of how "energy efficient" your car is, our industry uses "solvent mileage" to determine how efficiently we use solvent in cleaning. Many "old technology" machines were lucky to get 5,000 pounds of clothes cleaned to a fifty-five gallon drum of solvent. Today's drycleaning machines and systems are capable of reaching as high as 30,000 pounds or more of clothing cleaned to a fifty-five gallon drum of solvent! This means more solvent is being recaptured, recycled, and kept in the plant and out of our environment.

Our industry is converting rapidly to this new technology. In the mid-1980s, two-thirds of the drycleaners were using the old equipment. A survey taken last year showed that two-thirds are using the newer, more efficient machines. By the end of 1992, we expect that nearly all drycleaners will be using "high mileage" cleaning machines. It's an investment in a more "environmentally friendly", technology and cleaner environment.


Many cleaners are participating in programs through their supply distributors to recycle polyethylene ("poly") garment bags.' Look for special recycling bins in the front counter area of your cleaner. Please remove all staples and tags or receipts from poly bags before placing them in the bins.

Do you have old hangers in your closet? Many cleaners will happily accept them and put them to good use in many ways.

Every year thousands of "unclaimed garments" are left in cleaning plants all over the state. These are garments left by customers who never return to-claim them. The vast majority of cleaners donate this clothing to charities and clothing banks. These organizations then distribute them to the needy. That's right, we even recycle clothes!


We drink the same water and breathe the same air that you do, and that is why we are proud of our efforts to keep our environment clean and safe for future generations.

You can do your part by doing business with a cleaner who cares about our environment. Drycleaners who belong to the Wisconsin Fabricare Institute receive the education and information to help them be responsible environmental citizens. Look for this logo when you choose a cleaner:

Wisconsin Fabricare Institute Inc.

Copyright MILD INC.