Current Affairs

Consumer: Dry-cleaning

Dry-cleaning is necessary for clothes that would be damaged by cleaning with detergent and water, or to remove difficult stains.

Most dry-cleaners in New Zealand use a solvent called perchloroethylene or “perc”. All traces of this should be removed during the process. If there’s a lingering smell, air the garment outside.

Get a “Green” dry-clean

A handful of dry-cleaners use hydrocarbon or liquid silicone instead of perc. Although less toxic, hydrocarbon solvents are still petroleum-based and aren’t “environmentally friendly”.

Liquid silicone dry-cleaning is gentle on clothes and degrades to sand, and traces of water and carbon dioxide. Unfortunately, the manufacturing of silicone solvents is anything but green.

When things go wrong

Dry-cleaning must be carried out with reasonable skill and care,and has to be fit for any purpose you make known to the cleaner.

Disclaimers or signs stating “all care and no responsibility” hold no weight under the Consumer Guarantees Act.

Before accepting an item, a dry-cleaner should examine it with you. If there’s a chance it can’t be successfully treated, but they go ahead without warning you of the risk, they become liable for any damage. But if they warn you of the risk and you have it cleaned anyway, then it’s your problem.

If you think the cleaner hasn’t done the job with reasonable skill and care,
and as such has ruined your garment, discuss the damage with them. If that doesn’t work, contact the Textile Care Federation of New Zealand Inc (the dry-cleaning industry body).

It’s possible the care-label instructions are at fault. If so, go back to the retailer who sold you the garment and ask for a refund or a replacement of your clothing.

For more info go to the Textile Care Federation of New Zealand Inc at

Sue Chetwin CEO CONSUMER NZ keep informed at

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