RAVE FabriCARE: Position Papers

Our brief discussion of various issues related to
fine garments, household textiles and accessories

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Garment care or green care? You don’t have to settle for one or the other.


Garment care or green care? You don’t have to settle for one or the other.

By: Stu Bloom

Believe it or not, many cleaners in North America proclaim themselves to be “organic cleaners.”

Clearly, these cleaners are attempting to capitalize on the public perception that “organic” equals “safe”. That, in much the same way that organic foods equal “safe for consumption.

Anyone with any insight into the dry cleaning industry knows that the quality of product delivered by the vast majority of cleaners is mediocre at best.

For years, industry experts, industry consultants and national industry associations have been banging the drum of product quality. They’ve exhorted (no, they’ve actually begged) cleaners to refocus on quality of product and the critical ingredients that comprise quality of product – skills, expertise, processes, craftsmanship, equipment and facilities.

All to little or no effect.

The move away from quality of product


So how did the industry land in this pool of mediocrity?

Because cleaners drifted away from quality of product (a truly difficult undertaking) and focused instead on other differentiating factors (a much easier undertaking).

First, it was service – same day service, next day service, smiley-face service, have-a-nice-day service, etc.

Next, it was conveniences – 3 day pickup and delivery, 24/7 drop off, 24/7 order retrieval, credit and debit cards, house accounts, etc.

Then came image – granite countertops, recessed lighting, glossy fashion posters, coffee bars, aromatic candles, cool jazz, etc.

There’s just one problem: as more and more cleaners ramped up their service, conveniences and image, many found that these attributes ceased to be differentiating factors.

So now ordinary cleaners spend their time trumpeting their “greenness”.

We’re “green” they say. “Everything about us is green” they say:

  • dry cleaning solvents and fluids (synthetic petroleum, formaldehyde dibutyl acetal, siloxane, liquid carbon dioxide, hybrid glycol ether/liquid carbon dioxide and/or wet cleaning)
  •  waste handling
  • gas fired boilers
  • plant maintenance program
  • insulated steam pipes
  • mercury free fluorescent bulbs
  • duel flush toilets
  • cardboard and plastic recycling program
  • biodiesel-fueled delivery vans
  • biodegradable poly
  • hanger recycling program
  • energy efficient printers and fax machines
  • reusable garment bags.

We could go on and on, but you get the drift.

Fact is, for many cleaners it doesn’t even matter whether there’s any truth to their green claims.

Just saying you’re green is all that counts.

After all, you can experience the service, you can take advantage of the conveniences, and you can see, hear and smell the image and the glitz.

But apart from reusable garment bags, you’ll never know the truth about their green claims.

For example, in the metro Phoenix area we’ve got a “Green Cleaners” that dry cleans in perchloroethylene (aka perc), a “Natural Cleaners” that cleans in synthetic petroleum and an “Organic Cleaners” that dry cleans in synthetic petroleum and formaldehyde dibutyl acetal.

This is much more than just greenwashing. It’s a fraud on the public.

The takeaway


The greening of the dry cleaning industry is admirable. But, as usual, the thing that’s all the rage is being oversold and overhyped.

What’s more, it deflects attention away from the only matter that really counts: true quality cleaning.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be an either or situation. You can have both.

You can be true quality cleaner and be green. RAVE FabriCARE is a case in point.


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Filed Under:

Dry Cleaning,Position Paper


Stu Bloom

Stu Bloom is Founder and President of RAVE FabriCARE. RAVE FabriCARE, based in Scottsdale, Arizona, cares for fine garments, household textiles and accessories and serves clients throughout the USA and Canada. Stu is the author of various ebooks on these subjects, all of which are available from www.ravefabricare.com/freestuff. He is an evangelist for true quality cleaning and is a contributor to and editor of True Quality Cleaning, RAVE FabriCARE’s blog. You can find Stu on Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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