Q: What is green dry cleaning and how can I find a cleaner near me that does it?

A: Dry cleaners looking for a chemical-free method have learned something from the domestic goddesses who run for the club soda to prevent a stain from setting. Simply put, carbonated water is related to what many are calling the most environmentally friendly way to get your clothes dry cleaned.

Dry cleaning involves washing clothes in liquids other than water. As it's done at 90 percent of cleaners in the U.S., it uses a liquid form of perchloroethylene, or PERC, a chemical believed to cause cancer. As it evaporates, PERC can contaminate nearby air and groundwater, and reportedly can be absorbed through the skin from soil or from dry-cleaned clothes. California is phasing out its use by 2011.

A far less common technology, CO2 cleaning, uses liquid carbon dioxide to clean clothes instead of PERC. A handful of entrepreneurs have found a way to profitably operate dry cleaners using CO2, but the higher cost for the machines has prevented any wider adoption of it. (A CO2 machine costs about $100,000, roughly twice as much as a PERC machine.)

Supporters of CO2 cleaning see strong growth as soon as consumers are made more aware of its benefits.

Josh Dorfman, author of "The Lazy Environmentalist" and host of his own radio show, said CO2 dry cleaning leaves clothes cleaner and without the smell that sometimes comes on chemically-cleaned clothes. The rising consumer demand for more environmentally friendly practices makes potential growth of CO2 cleaning a more viable near-term prospect, Dorfman said.

"People actually go out of their way once they realize there's an option," said David Kistner, co-founder of Green Apple Cleaners in New York. "We have grown tremendously in a very short period of time, and it's all been organic and word of mouth."

Independent green dry cleaners are listed on the Web site www.findco2.com.