Dry Cleaner

Dry Cleaner

AtlSoapGuy

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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73 Questions

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Last Answer on February 12, 2018

Best Rated

how do you get bed linen so crisp

Asked by steffy almost 5 years ago

They are processed in the laundry. Starch is used and usually are run through a press designed to press linens.

Can dry cleaners fix a ripped nylon bubble down jacket. Do they put a patch or nylon patch.

Asked by marcus rosario almost 5 years ago

Yes, that has someone on premises should be able to repair the down jacket for you.  It is hard to say without actually seing the garment, but I would suspect that patch may be the best way to repair the garment.

What's the deal with "wrinkle-free" shirts and pants? I thought they'd save me money, but they seem to need as much dry cleaning care as the non-wrinkle-free ones.

Asked by Rip van Wrinkle over 5 years ago

I have not seen any garments that will have the same finish that you will receive as when you have your clothes professionaly dry cleaned or laundered. Often in the dry cleaning process, sizings are added to give the garment dimensional stability and help to prevent the wrinkles that occur during handling of the garments. During the pressing process the heat and steam that are used help these finishes to hold that shape of the garment. If you want your garment to look like new, take it to a professional dry cleaner using a fabric finish/sizing in the dry cleaning process.

Hi,

I read in your blog that it is recommended to use 1/2-3/4 gallons of solvent per pound of clothes. Is there an average amount of gallons of hydrocarbon solvent used per load in commercial dry cleaners? Thanks!

Asked by Ana about 5 years ago

Yes Ana. I would recommend 1/2- 3/4 gallon of solvent per pound clothes in the dry cleaning wheel, regardless of which solvent is being used. There are some variables that could cause you to move away from that amount, but that is pretty much the standard. Just to make sure it is clear. What I am referring to when I said to use 1/2-3/4 gallons is the amount of solvent that is in the actual cleaning wheel when the machine is cleaning clothes. Not how much solvent is lost from the cleaning cycle. Actual solvent loss due to dry cleaning can be as much as 2000 pounds of clothes cleaned per 1 gallon of solvent lost. The dry cleaning machines being manufactured today are exetremely efficient.

i bought a dress overseas and it is a ballgown that you would use for prom. i am using it for my wedding. can a dry cleaner charge you differently based on where you wear it? also do they clean it differently from other formal dresses?

Asked by buritanii almost 5 years ago

The cleaning of the gown is the simple part of this question.  Depending on the care label, that will pretty much explain how the gown will be cleaned.  Wedding gowns, very delicate items, items with sequins, prom gowns, beaded items, etc., are all dry cleaned in a very similar manner that is usually dependent of the care label.  When there is not a care label, then it is up to the dry cleaner to use his professional opinion as to the method to be used in the cleaning of the garment.  The second part of the dry cleaning process is actually tied to your question as to how the charge is arrived at. 

When a drycleaner sets his pricing for the various garments, a large percentage of his cost to process the garment is the labor that is involved.  This labor is mostly attributed to the amount of time required in the finishing of the garment (pressing).  Simple garments such as pants require little finishing time and are usually one of the lowest priced garments processed. Other garments such as fancy ball gowns and wedding gowns are some of the most time consuming and difficult to finish and therefore command a higher price from the consumer. 

If you were to bring a fancy gown into a dry cleaner and tell them it was a wedding gown, I suspect that most customer service/counter people would go to their price list and charge you their standard wedding gown price. The better approach for the consumer would be to not classify the gown and just ask how much it would cost to be processed.  This way the garment can be assessed as to how much labor would be required and a more accurate price could be arrived at.    

Unfortunately, it is often very difficult to just set one price for a garment.  There are so many variables in the construction and styles of garments that it is difficult to set just one price.  Therefore many dry cleaners will have a "base price" and then add upcharges for different things like type of fabric, trims, degree of difficulty in finishing and so on.   The bottom line is that dry cleaning is a very labor intensive job and if a garment looks like it would require more labor to process, then it most likely will cost the consumer more.  

Hi, I have a PERC dryclean machine that I have used for the past 10 years. Recently the clothes coming out have an aweful smell that I can't figure out. We have changes all carbon filters, put in new PERC, cleaned water separator but no change. Help!

Asked by Ray almost 5 years ago

I would do a couple things.  First you want to make sure that your solvent has not become acidic.  I would take a small amount of distilled solvent from the machine and an equal amount of distilled water.   Mix them up, allow them to seperate and then check the PH of the water portion to make sure you do not have an acidic condition , usually less than 6 ph will be problematic.  Personally, I have only seen this happen a couple of times, so i doubt that this will be the case, but it is a good starting point.  

I would check the steam pressure on the still, making sure that you are not distilling at more than 50psi.  Distilling at higher steam pressures could allow contaminants to come over in the distilled solvent.

Review spotting procedures making sure that whoever is doing the spotting is using correct procedures, rinsing out wet side spotters and levelling.  Use POG's correctly, either using no flush POG's, rinsing them with VDS or at the least, using POG's sparingly.

Inspect the condensing coil on the reclaiming portion of the dry cleaning machine, making sure that it is clean and that air flow is not impeded.

Inspect the still condensing coil. This is one area that is often overlooked on machines with a little age on them and especially those machine using spin disc filters. In PERC machines especially, I find this to be the biggest source of odor. Over a period of years, contaminants such as lints, fibers, hair, etc. can accumulate on the condensing coil.  These contaminants can be breaking down, carrying over to the water seperator and giving you a foul odor in your distilled solvent. Often your seperator water will have the same smell as your solvent.  I would recommend pulliing the coil out, inspecting and cleaning it. 

Once you have the coil cleaned, start cleaning up your solvent by distilling the DISTILLED tank first (you need to have an empty tank to send your newly distilled solvent to so that it will not mix with solvent that may have had some odor in it, that is why I start with the distilled tank).  Distill all the solvent in the machine and the filter housings.  I would add a charge detergent just for the first week (helps with any free moisture that may be in the system), then go back to whichever type of detergent you were using.  You may also want to add a product like Freshtex to add a fragrance to the solvent.  

I know that sounds like a lot, the distilling will take the most time, but I am pretty confident that your problem will be taken care of.  

How many hours do dry cleaner owners work? do they have to work 7 or 6 days a week at least 12 hours a day? or can employees be hired so that the owner can work 40-50 hours per week and still make a good profit?

Asked by Ali over 4 years ago

The owners of dry cleaners hours tend to vary.  I see some owners that will work upward of 80 hours per week and then there are the absentee owners who are rarely in the plant.  I have seen dry cleaners be successful either way. With that in mind, I also find that the owners of dry cleaners tend to get trapped into the labor end (pressing, assembly, etc.) of running the business when they should be concentrating more on the management side of running their business.  I feel that this is the bigger problem. 

Most dry cleaners are open for 60-70 hours per week, so I do feel that good employees can be hired that will allow the owner to comfortably work a 40-50 hour week.  Training your employees to know their jobs and provide the service that you are looking for, using your time to work on managing and marketing your business, and not allowing yourself to become tied to a production job in the plant will all help to move you towards making a profit.