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TURI Promotes Wet Cleaning Through Grant Program

LOWELL, Mass. — Rather than using perchloroethylene or hydrocarbons, Premier Cleaner & Tailor chooses to use professional wet cleaning in its shop located on a septic system in the Cornerstone Square Center in nearby Westford, Mass.

Supported by a demonstration grant from the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, owner Ryan Chae demonstrated the water-based technology to other dry cleaners during an event at his store on Wednesday.

“It was really important to me and my business to use water-based technologies, because I feel strongly that we have an obligation to protect health and the environment for the next generation,” says Chae.

Professional wetcleaning technology allows for “dry-clean-only” clothes to be effectively washed with water and detergents, TURI says. Technologies include a computer-controlled washer and dryer as well as tensioning equipment.

“Premier Cleaners is a great example of how a shop that’s on septic can use professional wet cleaning,” says Joy Onasch, who oversees the community and small-business program for TURI. “We appreciate that Mr. Chae shared his expertise with other dry cleaners so that they can be inspired to make the switch to the safer system.

“Cleaners who have switched have reduced utility costs and water usage, while protecting their health and the health of their workers and customers as well as the environment.”

Wastewater discharge from laundries and professional wet cleaners is considered industrial wastewater by the state and cannot be discharged directly to a septic system without a groundwater discharge permit—which can be difficult to obtain. Instead, Chae installed a 500-gallon holding tank within his shop that’s emptied, on average, twice a month. Although the state requires a certification for the holding tank, the simpler process requires certain design criteria be met, and submission of a form and one-time fee.

TURI awards grants to Massachusetts dry cleaners to help them make the switch to professional wet cleaning. Interested businesses can learn more by visit TURI’s website.

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