Dry cleaners may use a variety of cleaning methods, all of which are subject to environmental regulations. Many dry cleaners use a solvent called perchloroethylene, or perc. Perc is a hazardous air pollutant, or HAP.  Perc, like other dry cleaning methods, can cause health problems.  Alternatives to perc include silicone-based solvents, petroleum-based solvents, wet cleaning and the use of carbon dioxide in the cleaning process.  The following table provides information on these alternatives.

Perc Alternatives

 

Damage or wear on garments

Environmental characteristics Safety characteristics
Silicone-based solvent Light to moderate wear Appears environmentally safe Has not been tested for health effects over long time span
Petroleum-based solvent Light to moderate wear Less toxic than perc May be a fire hazard
Wet cleaning Moderate to severe wear Large amounts of contaminated water Comes with fewer safety hazards than perc
Carbon dioxide Light wear Non-toxic Requires high-pressure operation

Perc dry cleaners are regulated to ensure proper disposal of waste and to minimize the amount of solvent released into the air. If a dry cleaner uses enough solvent, petroleum-based dry cleaners may be regulated for air emissions and for proper disposal of waste. Wet cleaning may be regulated because of the large quantity of water used and disposed. All processes may be regulated if pollutants go down the drain.

Primary environmental regulations appear below according to the type of dry cleaning operation. This is not a complete list of possible regulations. It is the facility’s responsibility to know and meet all regulatory requirements.

Perc dry cleaners

Perc dry cleaners are regulated by both the department's Hazardous Waste Program and the Air Pollution Control Program

Air Pollution

Perc dry cleaners must have certain types of equipment, check for leaks, keep the equipment running properly and record their maintenance activities. Though it is rare, a perc dry cleaner may need a permit if it generates enough air pollution. All perc dry cleaners must read, follow, sign and submit the Dry Cleaner Notification of Compliance Status, Form MO 780-1987 to show they are complying with air regulations.

Various groups have written publications and provided ways to document the requirements.

* Federal air pollution regulation for perc dry cleaning (40 CFR 63 subpart M)
* EPA website regarding rules and implementations for perc dry cleaners
* Region 7 Contacts

Helpful Links

* Dry Cleaner Notification of Compliance Status, Form MO 780-1987
* Dry cleaning compliance calendar produced by the department
* Korean dry cleaner compliance calendar, produced by the New Jersey Small Business Environmental Assistance Program
* Amended EPA regulations for perchloroethylene dry cleaners
* Korean version of the amended EPA regulations for perchloroethylene dry cleaners
* Dry Cleaners and The Clean Air Act, Fact Sheet — Publication 2201

Hazardous Waste

Perc dry cleaners must register with the Dry Cleaning Environmental Response Trust, or DERT, fund. The DERT fund provides money for investigations, assessments and remediation of releases of chlorinated solvents from dry cleaning facilities. As part of that fund, perc dry cleaners must submit an annual operations report and pay a fee. Because perc-containing wastes are generally considered hazardous waste, other hazardous waste regulations may apply based on the amount of waste produced. The Hazardous Waste Program has the following publications that may answer any questions dry cleaners have. 

* DERT Fund Annual Program Report 2013, Booklet — Publication 2262
* DERT Fund Claim Kit, Fact Sheet — Publication 2135
* DERT Fund: Frequently Asked Questions, Fact Sheet — Publication 2186 
* DERT Fund: Frequently Asked Questions about Registration, Fact Sheet — Publication 2137
* DERT Fund: Frequently Asked Questions about Remediation, Fact Sheet — Publication 2136
* Transactions of Properties with Active or Abandoned Dry Cleaning Facilities, Fact Sheet — Publication 2134
* Hazardous Waste Generator Status Guidance, Fact Sheet — Publication 2224
* Transactions of Properties with Active or Abandoned Dry Cleaning Facilities, Fact Sheet — Publication 2134 

Water pollution

If you are not on a sewer, do not send anything down the drain except “domestic wastewater” or wastewater similar to what you would have at home.  If you are on a sewer system, contact your local sewer system to see what they will allow you to send down the drain.

Backflow Prevention: Frequently Asked Questions, Fact Sheet--PUB2158

Basics of Backflow Prevention, MO Regulation 10 CSR 60-11.010, Brochure--PUB393

Petroleum-based solvent dry cleaners

Air Pollution

Federal regulation 40 CFR 60 subpart JJJ regulates facilities with total dryer capacity greater than 84 pounds where the equipment was constructed or modified after Dec. 14,1982. 

40 CFR 60 subpart JJJ

Requirements

Region 7 Contacts

Hazardous Waste

Because some solvent-containing wastes are considered hazardous wastes, each petroleum-based dry cleaner will need to determine their status.

Solvent-Contaminated Rags, Fact Sheet--PUB146

Hazardous Waste Generator Status Guidance, Fact Sheet--PUB2224

Water pollution

If you are not on a sewer, do not send anything down the drain except “domestic wastewater” or wastewater similar to what you would have at home.  If you are on a sewer system, contact your local sewer system to see what they will allow you to send down the drain.

Backflow Prevention: Frequently Asked Questions, Fact Sheet--PUB2158

Basics of Backflow Prevention, MO Regulation 10 CSR 60-11.010, Brochure--PUB393

Silicone-based solvent, Wet cleaning, and Carbon dioxide

Air Pollution

These dry cleaner types do not have air pollution issues at this time.

Hazardous Waste

Some spot cleaners and maintenance items may be considered hazardous waste. The facility will need to determine their hazardous waste status and handle the wastes properly. 

Hazardous Waste Generator Status Guidance, Fact Sheet--PUB2224

Water pollution

If you are not on a sewer, do not send anything down the drain except “domestic wastewater” or wastewater similar to what you would have at home.  If you are on a sewer system, contact your local sewer system to see what they will allow you to send down the drain.

Backflow Prevention: Frequently Asked Questions, Fact Sheet--PUB2158

Basics of Backflow Prevention, MO Regulation 10 CSR 60-11.010, Brochure--PUB393