If You Must Dryclean….

My little pile of separated drycleaning materials

I do have some clothes that need drycleaning and as I’m getting ready for Autumn, I’ve been making sure my sweaters and wool pants from last Winter are ready to go. You never know when you’re going to wake up in the morning with frost on the window (I can’t wait!). Besides seeking out and patronizing PERC-free or wet-drying cleaners, (sometimes called ‘organic’ cleaners) as they use fewer harmful chemicals, there are other ways you can make your drycleaning process less wasteful. For more information on why to avoid PERC, and a lowdown on the various types of alternative cleaning available, go here.

As I was organizing my closet, I had a bunch of the plastic hanger bags, paper hanger covers, and of course, hangers piling up on the floor. What to do? Well, I pulled them all apart, making little obsessive piles of the various components:

-The paper bits were folded and added to my paper recycling.

-The plastic bags were tied off on the ends, tightly (since they have that hole there for the hangars to go through), and will be used for garbage bags.

-The twisty ties go into my kitchen drawer where I will used them for everything from keeping my tomato plants held up to attaching my cat’s tail to her leg (just kidding!).

-The hangers will go back to the cleaners so they can reuse them, since I would never hang my clothes on them in my closet. Not only do they ruin the shoulders of your shirts, but have you ever seen the scene in Mommy Dearest with the wire hangers? My grandma raised me, and she had similar, though less-violent feelings about such hangers. Using them would result in my grams turning over in her grave.

-The plastic clothespin thingies and/or safety pins that keep skirts on the hangar also go back to the cleaners for reuse.

Don’t just throw a wad of plastic, paper and wire hangar into the garbage, reuse and recycle! Of course, if you can avoid drycleaning (by buying clothes that don’t need to be) in the first place, that’s the best way to go.

Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of Eco-Chick.com and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.