Dry Cleaner

Dry Cleaner


Atlanta, GA

Male, 52

I have worked in the dry cleaning industry for almost 30 years. I worked in my family's dry cleaning operation as a manager and owner. Currently, I write a blog for those in the dry cleaning industry, as well as work for a manufacturer of dry cleaning chemicals. Over the years I have spent in the dry cleaning industry, I estimate that I have been in over 2000 dry cleaners in the US.

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87 Questions


Last Answer on February 12, 2018

Best Rated

Are some dry cleaners substantially more skilled than others? Don't they all use the same cleaning agents?

Asked by PK_9 almost 12 years ago

There are many equipment designs, processes, solvents and brands of chemicals being used in the dry cleaning industry. Some have been proven and in use for many years, others are new or "alternative" and the jury is still out on them. The proven processes will consistently offer excellent results and the best cleaning, but the operator of the process directly affects the end result. It costs money to maintain the dry cleaning process in tip top shape. Detergents and fabric finishes are needed. When filters are used, they need to be changed and disposed of on a regular basis. Solvent needs to be distilled and replenished as needed. Spotting chemicals are expensive and the dry cleaning machine operator needs to be trained to understand all of these facets. Dry cleaning is like any other industry. You have some operators that are highly skilled on one end and on the other, there are those that do not have any skills. Unfortunately, there is very little in the terms of licensing or training required to operate a dry cleaner. Some states have some very basic requirements, but most of these are about environmental regulations and not about the actual skill needed to clean clothes. When looking for a high quality dry cleaner, look for a cleaner that can restore your garments to "like new" condition. The stains have been removed, there is no lint, no static cling, the garment is free of odors and has been treated with a fabric finish to give the garment a "like new" feel to the garment.

Is it a bad idea get use dry cleaners for tailoring services? I always figured it was, since it wasn't their area of expertise, but am I just being paranoid?

Asked by Regina's momma almost 12 years ago

It depends on the dry cleaning business you go to. Many dry cleaners have a tailor or alteration shop that they send their work to. I would not be concerned at all about having your basic mending/repairs done by these. Other dry cleaners will do these basic repairs in house. Then there are dry cleaners that have their own tailor/seamstress working for them in house. Lastly, there are dry cleaners owned by tailors. I wouldn't be paranoid. I would discuss the item you are having worked on with your dry cleaner and discuss his level of expertise in regards to what you are needing done. Make an informed decision on whether you feel comfortable with them doing the work or not. If it is a minor repair, I would not be concerned.

I've noticed that a disproportionate # of dry cleaners (in my town anyway) have credit card minimums, relative to other kinds of local businesses. Why is that?

Asked by Ron79 almost 12 years ago

Good question!! I really do not know why, but I have to admit, I have seen that as well. I am going to ask the next time I run across this in a cleaners I visit.

Let's say I have a bad stain but the dry cleaner insists he can clean it. But after a couple attempts, he can't get it out - should I still have to pay?

Asked by Erin almost 12 years ago

In my opinion, if he insisted on cleaning it, I do not feel you should have to pay for it. However, quite often stains are found after that garment was dropped off for cleaning (a good reason to point them out to the counter person), if it is a difficult stain to remove, the cleaner should call you and let you know that this may be a stain that is not removed and allow you to decide on whether you want him to try, but in this situation keep in mind if he works on it, he deserves to be paid (a good reason to find a dry cleaner that can remove a high percentage of stains). In the dry cleaners defense, stain removal is the least profitable part of the dry cleaning operation. The dry cleaner is using expensive chemicals, usually much more labor is required, it is easy to damage garments and often the stain does not come out after all of this and the customer is disappointed. The best dry cleaner in the world will not remove every stain.

Was the $67 Million "fancy pants" lawsuit a big deal in the cleaning industry?

Asked by bayo1 almost 12 years ago

I do not think it was as big of a deal for the dry cleaning industry as it was for the legal system. At the time when the lawsuit was filed in 2005, a few cleaners talked about it, but I think that almost everyone felt it was ridiculous. Unfortunately, it did result in the cleaner going out of business.

When I ask a dry cleaner to be careful not to shrink certain clothing items, they always agree and then shrink them anyway. Are they just giving me lip service, or is it out of their control? Happens a lot w/dress shirts and wash/dry/fold.

Asked by Marv407 almost 12 years ago

If the garment is cleaned by the manufacturer's recommended care method outlined on the care label, they should not shrink. If they do shrink, you should return it to the point of purchase. It is pretty tough to tell if a garment will shrink but sometimes they do shrink and it is out of the dry cleaners control. In the case of wash and fold, most cleaners do not look a all the care labels unless it is an unusual garment. So it is possible that a garment could slip through and be washed or dried improperly.

Is forgotten cleaning a real issue in the industry? What do most cleaners do with unclaimed clothing?

Asked by Lori over 11 years ago

Yes Lori, forgotten cleaning is a big issue in the dry cleaning industry. In most cases dry cleaning is paid for after it is finished. This means that the owner of the drycleaner has invested time and labor, as well as other intangibles to produce the clean garment. If it is never picked up this was all done at a loss. Depending on state laws, he can sell the garment to try to re-coup his cost. Other drycleaners will donate these garments to charities.