Skip navigation
  C. What You Won't Pick Up At The Cleaners

Narrator: This is Science Today. A new technique developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory may soon alter the way dry cleaning is done. Researcher Craig Taylor says they've come up with a machine that uses liquid carbon dioxide to do the dry cleaning.

Taylor: Currently, dry cleaners in the United States use a solvent called perchloroethylene.

Narrator: Perchloroethylene is a suspect carcinogen which has been banned in Japan. And in New York, new dry cleaners using this solvent are prohibited. So Taylor says the advantages of using carbon dioxide are great.

Taylor: It's obviously, not toxic. It completely leaves the clothes, so there's no residue left within the clothes and the process is shorter and cheaper than the perchloroethylene system and it's also zero emissions, so you don't have to worry about that.

Narrator: The machine, which is due out next year, will also benefit the dry cleaners.

Taylor: The cycle time is half of what the cycle time is for a perchloroethylene, so it's going to save them a good deal of time. There is no drying step, so you can wipe out a whole ‘nother machine that you have sitting over here to do the drying.

Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.