One very long word sums up the trouble with dry cleaning: perchloroethylene. It's toxic stuff, and it's been the industry standard for the past half-century. So in the early 1990s, a researcher at the University of North Carolina patented a cleaning process using liquid carbon dioxide — which, incidentally, looks like Jell-O-ed vodka. It eliminates those nasty chemicals and saves energy because it works at lower temperatures. In 2000, the Hangers brand went national, and local entrepreneur Joe Runyan brought the enviro-friendly business to Kansas City. Runyan says customers appreciate the sleek design of his 16 storefronts (at the North Kansas City franchise, the image of a cascading waterfall covers one wall) and the fact that clothes come back smelling like, well, fabric, not some tainted specimen from the laboratory of a mad chemist.