If you are a common user of dry-cleaning services, you may be exposed to levels of Perchloroethylene, or perc. Perc is the dominant chemical solvent used in dry-cleaning.

It is a clear, colorless liquid that has a sharp, sweet odor and evaporates quickly. It is an effective cleaning solvent and is used by most professional drycleaners (85%) because it removes stains and dirt from all common types of fabrics.

Symptoms of perc exposure include dizziness, fatigue, headaches, confusion, nausea, and skin, lung, eye and mucous membrane irritation. Repeated exposure to high levels can also irritate the skin, eyes, nose and mouth, and can cause liver damage and respiratory failure.

Scientists are currently studying the possibilities of perc exposures causing adverse effects in pregnant women such as increased incidence of miscarriage or reproductive effects, affect on women’s fertility, or affects to children born to parents exposed to high levels of perc.

Reduce the Risk


  • Avoid excessive use of dry cleaning services. Most fabrics can be washed by hand or a gentle cycle on standard washing machines and hung out to dry.
  • When bringing home dry cleaning, consider pulling the plastic off of the garments and letting them “air out” in the open garage or outdoors before brining them indoors.
  • Look for cleaning services that utilize “wet” cleaning methods and other cleaning methods that do not use perc as a cleaning agent.