If paying your dry cleaning bill makes you feel like you're being taken to the cleaners, it's time to reconsider. Your bottom line isn't the only thing being harmed. The chemical-laden dry cleaning process relies on perchloroethylene, which the International Agency for Research on Cancer reports is a potential carcinogen to humans, although some dry cleaners are switching to less toxic formulas like C02 [source: Chan].
If you're ready to ditch your dry cleaning bill, reading the label on your clothes is a good first step. Clothes labeled "dry clean" can be washed by hand or machine in a gentle detergent. "Dry clean only" clothes are usually made of silk, rayon or other materials that don't stand up well to detergent and water [source: Moreno]. However, even these fabrics can be cleaned at home by purchasing an at-home "dry cleaning" system. Most are comprised of a bag into which you place your clothes, along with a moist sheet infused with cleaning solution. You zip the bag shut and place it into your dryer, where the combination of heat and moisture create a cleansing steam [source: Bissonette].