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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79 Questions

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Last Answer on February 12, 2018

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Are there any red flags that we should look for when choosing a new dry cleaner?

Asked by Hildy over 6 years ago

If you are looking for the best dry cleaners, look for a dry cleaner that has the Dry Cleaners and Laundry Institute Seal of Approval. The cleaners with this award have had to demonstrate a high level of expertise. You can search for Seal of Approval cleaners at the Drycleaners and Laundry Institute website (www.ifi.org). You may also want to check with the Better Business Bureau for accreditation. If you are in the dry cleaners, a few things you can watch for are: Does the counter person ask questions about your garments (stains, repairs, etc.). Do you see a large number of those "Sorry We Couldn't Remove the Stain" tags on the finished garments on the conveyor? Does the lobby look clean and neat? Is the business a member of an association? Finally, does the dry cleaner restore your garments to "like new" condition? This should be the ultimate goal of a professional dry cleaner. Garments should be clean, odor free, have a fabric finish and generally have that "like new" appearance.

Is there a type of stain that's acknowledged by most dry cleaners as the hardest to get out?

Asked by Dan79 over 6 years ago

That is a tough question. When you look at stain removal in dry cleaning there are many components involved that need to be addressed. There is the type of stain and what the stain is made up of. There is the garment and how it is manufactured, especially how colorfast it will be to aggressive stain removal procedures. Then there is time, the longer the stain has been in the garment, the more difficult it becomes to remove. Having said that, in my opinion, I feel the ink stain is the most difficult stain to remove (depending on the composition of the ink) on colored fabrics, as the dye's used in the garment may be easily removed by the chemicals that may be needed to remove the dye components of the ink stain. On the white colored garments, ink stains can be tough, but old (oxidized) oil stains, such as food greases and even ring around the collar, may be some of the toughest. While you can often successfully use various bleaches on whites in order remove the last remnants of the ink stain, oxidized oil stains do not respond to bleach and often require chemicals that all but a few dry cleaners use.

Why do so many dry cleaners have autographed celebrity pictures all over their walls? Other types of business establishments don't seem to do this.

Asked by Trish over 6 years ago

I would suspect that they are using them as sort of an endorsement of their services. I think they feel the general public probably feels the celebs wear expensive/designer clothes and therefore the cleaner must do a good job if that celeb entrusts their garments to that particular cleaner. I knew a cleaner in Nashville many years ago that did this and had somewhat of a reputation as a cleaner to the stars and I have to admit, it was kinda cool knowing that Elvis had his clothes cleaned there, along with many others.

What rights do I have when a dry cleaner ruins one of my garments because of their own negligence. Are they legally obligated to pay for it? How about if they just LOSE it?

Asked by Elena123 over 6 years ago

That is a difficult question. Not being an attorney, I would have to say that if you suffered a loss, whether it were a lost or damaged garment, that your only right would be the right to take the dry cleaners to court if you could not reach an amicable agreement with the owner of the cleaners. I feel that if you do suffer damage due to the dry cleaners negligence, that they should pay you for the garment. Bear in mind that the age of the garment comes into play and there is a fair market guide for calculating the value of a garment based on the age of it. Reputable dry cleaners will usually never want to reach that point and really want to keep you happy and save you as a customer, most will want to take care of the problem promptly and fairly. If your dry cleaner shows indifference to your concerns, you really should look for another dry cleaner. You must also consider that there are many garments being manufactured that are very poorly constructed. These garments can have many problems from being poorly dyed, to having trim that will not withstand dry cleaning, to poorly pre-shrunk fabrics to garments that are just not serviceable by the dry cleaner. The FTC requires that garments have a label that requires one method of garment care be specified on the label. If the dry cleaner cares for the garment using the method listed on the label and there is a problem, it is my opinion that it is the manufacturer's fault and the garment should be returned to the point of purchase. Often, a reputable dry cleaner will offer you some documentation explaining the method that was used in cleaning for you to take to the retailer and in some cases I know of cleaners actually returning the garment to the retailer for the dry cleaning customer.

When you spill food on nice clothes, is it better to try and get it out immediately with a wet napkin, or will that make it worse? If I just let it set, does that make it easier for a professional to get it out later?

Asked by redsox07 over 6 years ago

Using a wet napkin can aggravate the situation. For example, quite often silks may be dyed with a water soluble dye. The wet napkin along with the abrasive action of wiping the stain off can remove the dye from the garment in the area wiped. The best thing you could do would be to just blot the stain with a dry napkin to remove any of the excess staining substance, then bring the garment to your dry cleaners as soon as you can, letting the stained garment set for too long can make the stain more difficult to remove. Make sure to point the stain out and tell the dry cleaner what the stain is for the best results.

Is there any difference between flat water and soda water when it comes to getting stains out yourself? Do the bubbles actually do anything?

Asked by jackblack over 6 years ago

I do not know for sure, but I doubt it. I have never seen a dry cleaner, seminar, stain removal class or any technical papers written touting the advantages of using a soda water over tap water in professional dry cleaning and as old as the dry cleaning industry is, I would have thought that someone would tried it and let the world know if it did work. The bubbles or foam created from detergents is not an indicator as to how well the detergent is cleaning. In fact, excessive bubbles in both dry cleaning and laundry can create their own set of problems.

How come I have to point out stains to the dry cleaner when I bring in my stuff? Doesn't he just look at and launder the whole thing?

Asked by GaryG over 6 years ago

You should be glad that your dry cleaner asks you to point out stains. This greatly helps the dry cleaner in successful removal of the stain. Knowing what the stain is, helps immensely in deciding the procedure needed to remove the stain. Some stains can be set in by using the wrong stain removal agent. Also, pre-treating stains prior to dry cleaning can help prevent stains from being set in. What happens is that the stain is often not removed in the dry cleaning machine and then the heat of drying in the machine will set the stain in, making it more difficult to remove. Another reason is that often dry cleaners are high production environments and it can sometimes be easy to miss a spot when pre-treating garments prior to dry cleaning. Again, when this happens, it can become even more difficult to remove the stain. I would recommend that you always point out stains and identify them when dropping off clothes at your cleaner. I would also give the dry cleaner adequate time to remove the stain, as some stains may require slower processes to be effective. Lastly, I would bring in the stained garment as soon as you can find the time, to help prevent stains becoming more difficult to remove due to age.

Some garments are clearly dry-clean only, while others only need a regular wash but my dry cleaner always suggests dry cleaning for everything in between -- is he just trying to charge me 4x as much?

Asked by Pat - Madison, WI over 6 years ago

This is a tough question to answer, as I need a little more information. What type of garment is it that you would like laundered? I am also a little bit curious as to why he would charge 4x for the dry cleaned garment over the laundered garment, unless we are talking about a laundered shirt or wash & fold. When you look at the cost of producing dry cleaned garments, up to 40% of the cost is the actual labor involved in cleaning and pressing the garment. Typically, laundered pants, jeans, khaki's, and shirts/blouses that cannot be done on the shirt equipment require more time to finish than dry cleaned garments, so the dry cleaner may be choosing to dry clean these instead of laundering them, because it is less labor intensive. The odd thing is, if he did launder and press, they should cost as much or more than the dry cleaned garments, (except for shirts). Often dry cleaners are reluctant to launder or hand wash garments that are brought in for dry cleaning, even though they would clearly do better in water. This often stems from the dry cleaning consumer having issue with garments brought in to be dry cleaned and then they are laundered. I am not sure if I touched on the situation you have, but ultimately, I would suggest finding a cleaner you are confident in and trust his judgement as to what type of process would be best for the garment.

A few dry cleaners in my city finally got the hint and learned that staying open late is HUGE to customers, because people working day jobs often can't make the 6-7pm cut-off. Why aren't more dry cleaners doing this?

Asked by ben k over 6 years ago

That is a very good question, which I do not have a good answer. The cost to remain open for a couple more hours each evening would not be that great provided all the equipment where shut down (which it would normally be anyway). In my opinion, if a dry cleaner wanted to try to increase sales, that may be a very good way to increase business or at least give it a try to see how it goes.

What happens to clothes at dry cleaner's that never get picked up?

Asked by steiny over 6 years ago

Unclaimed garments are a common problem and an expense for the owners of dry cleaners. They have paid for the chemicals, utilities needed, labor, packaging and in the end receive nothing for their effort. The laws pertaining to unclaimed garments vary from state to state. Usually the dry cleaner can dispose of the garments after a set period of time, they may have to attempt to contact the customer or may even have to place an ad in a paper and post the date and time the garments will be available for sale. When they become able to be disposed of, many dry cleaners will sell them, auction them or donate them to charity.

A little embarrassing but every time I'm asked if I want starch, I really have no idea and I just wind up saying, "No thanks." Am I missing out on something by foregoing it?

Asked by JSB over 6 years ago

Starch is only used on garments that are brought to the cleaners to be laundered. Examples are cotton shirts, jeans, khakis, lab coats, etc. Starch helps the fabrics like cotton and linens hold their shape (dimensional stability) after pressing. The more the starch, the more stiff/crisp the garment is. The style of the garment can often help you choose whether you would want starch or not. Soft/supple types of fabrics would better off with no starch, while the cotton dress shirts, jeans and khaki's are nicer with starch in my opinion. Notice, I said opinion. Another factor that comes into play is what you prefer. There are many customers that like heavily starched garments, while there are those that like no starch. There is also, a school of thought that starching helps to prevent wrinkling to the point that you may get more wearings out of a garment in between cleanings. I find this is true with jeans and khaki's, but my dress shirts look worn whether they have been starched or not. I would suggest you try starch on a couple dress shirts the next time and see what you think.

When I drop my shirts off, they always ask me when I need them back by...which I never understood because it costs the same even when they "rush" the order. Do cleaners rely on 'need back by' dates a lot to manage their workload?

Asked by MikeD over 6 years ago

The short answer is yes. Asking when the customer needs the garments back can help greatly in managing production. The dry cleaning plant can best be described as a small factory. Production has to be managed to meet the customers expectations. The employees need to have sufficient hours to make a living. Equipment is in use all day, every day and breakdowns happen. Some days of the week are busier than others. Holidays can make for short weeks. When you combine all of these together, it can be quite a balancing act in order to keep production schedules, so if the dry cleaner can get a couple extra days, it can greatly help to keep these schedules. The fact may be that your clothes are ready early, even though you didn't need them right away. In the case of stains or repairs that may be needed, the dry cleaner should always ask for more time in order to provide enough time to do the work properly.

I've heard about some home dry-cleaning products, though don't actually know anyone who uses them. Are any of them any good?

Asked by Annie phx over 6 years ago

They do not clean clothes. Basically, they are just a freshening process, not much different than running your clothes in a dryer with a bounce sheet. When you look at dry cleaning, there are several steps in the actual cleaning process. There is stain removal, then the actual cleaning which removes soils from the fabrics and transports those soils to a filter, away from the clothes. Detergents are used to help aid in the removal of those soils and often a fabric finish is added in the process to give dimensional stability (like new feel) to the garment. Then the garment is professionally pressed to give it that like new appearance. Unfortunately, I have not found a home dry cleaning kit that does any of this. They can make your clothes smell okay, but the soil/perspiration/lint are still there.

I'm a new manager at my company and my store is the slowest of 15. What can I do to build sales and increase revenue?

Asked by donna over 5 years ago

If you are using a computer, I would start going over the database and contacting customers that have not used your service in over 60 days.  I would send them an offer or call them and offer them some sort of incentive to come in.  You might want to run a special on your slowest day of the week to build volume on the slow days.  Another way is to constantly be selling other services that you may do.  If you do alterations or repairs, make sure the counter help is letting the customers know about these extra services.  If you do draperies, household items, leather garments, shoes, etc., make sure that ll the counter help is communicating this.  Always be selling and upgrading your services when possible. 

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

Asked by PK_9 over 6 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 over 6 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 over 6 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.

Was the $67 Million "fancy pants" lawsuit a big deal in the cleaning industry?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearson_v._Chung

Asked by bayo1 over 6 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.

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 over 6 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.

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 over 6 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.

What's the most economical way to clean bed comforters? They're too large to wash in my own machine, but dry cleaners typically want $30+ to do them, which seems really high.

Asked by Marjorie over 6 years ago

I would check the care label first. If the care label says that it can be machine washed, you could take it to a coin laundry where they have a large capacity washer and process it there. This should save you a few dollars. However, depending on the value of the comforter, you may opt to have the professional handle it and in the case of dry clean only, your best choice is to have the professional dry cleaner process it.

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

Asked by Lori almost 6 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.

Why are so many dry cleaners Asian?

Asked by slowgrind over 6 years ago

A dry cleaning business is often an easy way for Asia immigrants to own a business. The investment required to get into the dry cleaning industry can often be much more affordable than other businesses. The Asian community has become very established in the dry cleaning industry and have much of the training materials and information available to them in their language. And while communication skills are very important at the point of sale, often this can be worked around with minimal English required.

What does it cost to open a dry cleaning business in an average suburban town?

Asked by Elias over 6 years ago

Depending on how you configure the store between $150k - $250K for new, good quality equipment, computers, counters, build out and start up supplies. If you are only going to be doing dry cleaning (you will be sending your shirts out for someone else to do for you), you will be on the lower end of that range. For dry cleaning and laundry (which is the way that most configure), you will be on the higher end of that range.

I am in a process of purchasing a dry cleaners, but the owner doesn't want me to present at the store to check daily sales. He doesn't want his employees to know that the business is on sale. Do you think this is common? or he is hiding something?

Asked by Sue over 5 years ago

I can understand that the seller could be concerned that when his employees find out he is selling, they may want to move on and actually this is a very common concern when selling a dry cleaner.  However, you need to do your due diligence and thoroughly investigate the sales of the business before closing.   If the owner cannot come to some agreeable way of allowing you to verify the daily sales, I would become a little concerned about the actual sales.  A few ways that may help is to check the invoice numbers at the beginning of the each day to get an idea how many invoices there were.  You could check the daily bank deposit.  Setting in the parking lot and actually counting customers the first few hours of the day and the last few hours of the day can give you an inkling as to how busy they are. 

can loose threads from silk pillows damage a dry cleaning machine?

Asked by english over 5 years ago

That would be a long shot, but I suppose it could create a problem in the drycleaning machine.  It might be able to get into the pump and while not actually causing damage, it could result in having to take the pump apart and cleaning the thread/lint from the impeller.  Another possibility would be shortening the life of the filters on the machine.  If there were a lot of lint, this could result in having to change them sooner than possible.  Without actually seeing this garment, these are about the only things I can think of and neither of them are really a serious issue.

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

Asked by marcus rosario over 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.

I always ask my dry cleaner to hand press my cotton button downs, but they still come back over-pressed to the point where the fabric loses its original fit and structure. Is it silly to ask them NOT to press the shirts at all after dry cleaning?

Asked by Josh over 5 years ago

I understand exactly what you are saying.  I have had the same problem with the dry cleaners I have used in the past too.  There are some shirts that do not come out well on the shirt units.  Usually it is just too hot of a temperature, you will see shiny spots on areas that the fabric is doubled up (the tips of the collars, cuff, etc).  

Are you asking for the shirts to be dry cleaned?....This usually is not a problem in dry cleaning as it is in laundry.  I am suspecting that your cleaner is just automatically sending them through laundry instead of dry cleaning.  If I were you, I would speak with the manager and ask specifically if the shirt can be dry cleaned and if so, will he make sure that it is.  If not, have him launder it and hand press the garment.  If the dry cleaner cannot follow these instructions for you, I would look for a different one.  

To answer your question, no it isn't silly to ask for just cleaning, just unusual.  

 

Hope this helps. 

 

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 almost 6 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 over 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.  

how do you get bed linen so crisp

Asked by steffy over 5 years ago

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

how much do they charge to cut a little for my prom dress at the bottom?

Asked by andrea over 5 years ago

That is a tough question.  I really depends on the dress, the person doing the alterations and the amount of labor it would take.  I would recommend taking into a dry cleaners that has a person on premises that does alterations and can give you quote, as well as properly fit you for the length of the dress.  Do not forget to bring the shoes you intend to wear with it.  

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 6 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.

I got red hair dye on my favorite white dry-clean-only blazer. I can't dry clean it until Monday (2 days from now). What should I do in the meantime? I am soaking the collar in water + detergent to try to prevent the stain from setting? Is this bad?

Asked by Christina over 5 years ago

I wouldn't do anything else, take the garment out and allow it to hang dry, then take it to your drycleaner on Monday.  Soaking in cool water and a detergent will be okay and can have some positive results from time to time, however, I would recommend that when stains occur, the best thing to do is to blot the stain with a dry cloth and then take it to a professional.  

Hair dye can be a very difficult stain to remove, but it is fortunate that this is on a white garment.  This will allow your cleaner to use more aggressive methods than if it were on a colored garment. 

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 over 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.  

whats the steps to take to get out oxidized oils.

Asked by screh172 over 5 years ago

Oxidized oil stains can be a very tough stain to get out.  In fact, the vast majority of dry cleaners do a not have much success with these types of stains.  Typically, they cannot be removed with wetside stain removal agents or bleach.  They will require a dry side approach.  

I would first pre-test the colorfastness of the garment in an un-noticeable area using the procedure I am about to outline, prior to actually using the procedure on the stain.  

I would start out by applying a VDS and then tamp the stain with a brush.  I would reapply the VDS and repeat this step.  Next I would apply a POG and again tamp the area.  Be patient and allow a little time for the POG to loosen the oils.  Then flush the POG from the area with VDS.  If this does not remove the oxidized oil stain, you will have to move on to a more advanced spotting technique using KOH (a chemical derived from the mixture of butyl alcohol and potassium hydroxide). KOH will work wonders on oxidized oil stains, but you will definitely need to do your homework and learn how to use it, as well as the safety factors needed before you start using this chemical.

 

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 5 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.  

what does it mean to work in production in a dry cleaners. what would the job entail/

Asked by linda over 5 years ago

The dry cleaning operation is a production environment, not much different than a factory that produces goods.  The clothes come in dirty and need to be tagged in for identification.  From there the garments will have stains removed, then be cleaned, pressed, inspected, bagged and then placed on the conveyors for the customers to pick up.  In most cleaners this will be the process for several hundred pieces each day. So as you can see, this salsa small factory that takes a dirty garment and turns it into a "like new" garment.

The front counter or point of sale is just that, point of sale or customer service. This position can often assist those in the production department, too.

I tried a new cleaner. I picked up my clothes to find them ruined. The silk dulled, not soft & thinned. My designer blazers had had a wonderful sheen to the outside & were lined with beautiful silk. The sheen was gone, silk dulled. What happened??

Asked by L.Sam almost 5 years ago

It is difficult to say.  I would look at the care label on the garment and ask the cleaner how they processed the garment.  If the dry cleaner processed it in accordance with the care labelling of the garment, I would recommend that you return it to the place of purchase.  If they did not, it could possibly be the method that the drycleaner used when processing the garment and you should discuss this the cleaner.  It may be possible to restore the luster/sheen to the garment. 

I had a tiny stain (?origin) on a silk dress. My DC has successfully removed stains from this garment before, but this particular stain morphed into a large discolored blotch. Another client's dress was ruined due to my stain! What stain does this?

Asked by ReactiveStain over 5 years ago

I suspect that the discoloration and subsequent dye transfer to another garment was either a result of improper stain removal procedures or failure to pre-test the stain removal agent used for safety on your dress.  

How many paper garment covers does the average dry cleaner use every year?

Asked by Rjohns over 5 years ago

I am really not sure, but I will give you a guestimate.  I would say the average plant does about 250K in business. Garment covers are usually only used on dry cleaning and not laundry.  If laundry accounts for 40% of their business that means that 150K is dry cleaning.  At an average of $5.00 per piece, that would mean 30,000 pieces of dry cleaning cleaned.  If their is an average of 3 pieces of dry cleaning bagged together with one garment cover over them, I would say that the average dry cleaner would need about 10,000 garment covers per year. 

Like I said, just a guestimate. 

How difficult/simple is it to get environmental insurance for a dry clean plant in the state of California? What is the procedure and how costly is it?

Asked by Lola over 5 years ago

You got me on that one.  Unfortunately, I have no experience working in the state of California.  

How much can I expect to pay for hand pressing shirts vs press only shirts in Atlanta?

Asked by Quixote Williams over 5 years ago

A hand pressed shirt will cost you between $3.50 and $5.00 in Atlanta.  I would expect a press only shirt to cost you about the same.  Laundered with starch is running from $1.25 to $2.25.  

My nephews drink the Berry Blue Kool-Aid Sunburst drinks. Unfortunately, they spilled some on my white carpet and didn't tell me about it until I got home. Now I have this juice stain and nothing seems to get it out! What should I do? Thanks!

Asked by Marianne Garcia over 5 years ago

That is a difficult question for me to answer.  The chemicals that I recommend are all for dry cleaning use.  Most of these need to be flushed out on the spotting board or in a dry cleaning machine.  I would recommend a professional carpet cleaner.  

Hey .. How are you ! Does every dry cleaner fix clothes.

Asked by Lala over 5 years ago

Not every dry cleaner does repairs on garments.  Some will have full alteration/tailor shops, some will send their garments out to be repaired, while others will offer the basic repairs.   Some of the high end and better quality cleaners will offer minor repairs at no charge.  It all depends on how the owners have set up their operations. 

I took a very expensive brown 93% cotton 7% spandex blend dress to my cleaners. It came back with blotches that look like grease.Also looks like steam burns in the back. He claims its the mftrer problem & that I should go back to store. Do u agree?

Asked by Gail over 5 years ago

There have been quite a few problems with dye fading in garments containing spandex as of late.  So without seeing the garment, yes, it could be possible that it is a manufacturer's problem.

The grease stains are tough to tell, solvent that has not dried evenly of thoroughly can leave a greasy appearance (similar to a food grease, not a black grease).  The steam burns you describe could be a result of brown dye fading and not scorch.  It is pretty tough to tell withoug seeing it.  

Does the care label say the garment is dry cleanable?  Was it dry cleaned in Perc, HydroCarbon or another solvent?  Some of the current dye fading problems are occuring more in HydroCarbon than other solvents and can often be corrected when cleaned in Perc if the garment is safe to clean in Perc. 

I just washed a vintage dress in cold water and it shrunk - I'm devastated. Can dry cleaners stretch a dress into its original shape?

Asked by Jo over 5 years ago

Sometimes dry cleaners can stretch a garment back into the original size.  It depends on the fabrics, finishes, equipment used and the degree of shrinkage you are trying to correct. 

For my entire adult life, I have used scotch tape w/ an arrow drawn on it when I need to point out spots on a garment. NEVER had any problems. A month ago the dry cleaners cleaned a shirt with the tape on it. Left tape marks on it. Any way to fix it?

Asked by Ramona almost 5 years ago

When it comes to laundering shirts, it is a great idea to point this type of problem out to the counter person that is taking the garments in to be cleaned.  Even though there may be tape on the garment, laundered shirts are done in large volume and often the stain removal process is done after the shirts have been laundered the first time.  

The dry cleaner may be able to use a VDS type stain remover, along with an OTPR to remove it.  However, the plastic in the tape may be melted/embedded so deeply in the fibers of the shirt that it cannot be corrected.  

I dropped a 300$ bridesmaid dress off at the drycleaner and asked them to get the wrinkles out now there are marks all over the dress that look like grease marks and they're trying to say it was like that when I brought it in. What can I do?

Asked by LL about 5 years ago

That is a difficult problem.  As the previous owner of a drycleaner, I would have to say that the customer is USUALLY right.  In this case, I would try to get the garment cleaned up with the grease marks removed for you.  The downside of this is that the garment may be very difficult to clean, with some risks involved, depending on the skill of the cleaner and construction of the garment. Hopefully, you have a professional dry cleaner that you are working with, that will be reasonable to work with. 

I have a Merino wool sweater and the threads are starting to come out, will a dry cleaners be able to pull the threads back into place or am I out of luck?

Asked by rcg about 5 years ago

I would recommend taking the garment to a professional alteration person or a dry cleaners that has a professional alteration person on premises.  They should be able to correct this problem for you. 

What percent of households use a dry cleaners?

Asked by Josh about 5 years ago

I have not seen any statistics on this in some time.  However, I would guess that at least 30% of households use a dry cleaner, at least once in a year.  Strictly a guess though. 

I lost my dry-cleaning receipt so does that mean I cant get my clothes back?

Asked by Cliff about 5 years ago

Not usually.  The drycleaning plant owner will most likely ask you for some other identifying information, such as address, phone number, picture id, description of the garments, etc.  Most drycleaner owners would much rather have the garments picked up and paid for, as opposed to hanging on the conveyor unclaimed. 

can a drycleaner stretch denim jeans to be a little longer in length?

Asked by cc about 5 years ago

They may be able to stretch these a very small amount, but usually this correction is lost in future cleanings and will be needed again the next time. 

My cleaner was to press my wedding dress & return it same day. They washed it & handmade flowers on dress fell apart. They hid damage by gluing them back on and lied about it. Didn't return dress until 2 hr before ceremony. Should they pay for dress?

Asked by Autumn about 5 years ago

It sounds like they may have gotten something on the dress during the pressing of it that required it to be cleaned in order to remove the stain.  I can think of know other reason that they would have cleaned the dress.  The hand made flowers couldn't withstand the cleaning process used.  It also sounds that the dress was usable. 

It is a tough question to answer, not having seen the dress or the damage.  I do not think that the cleaner should pay for the dress.  However, I do think that the cleaner should do something for you for all of the problems and stress you encountered.  Many people choose to have their gowns restored/preserved after they have worn them, this can cost up to several hundred dollars to have done.  If I where the owner of the cleaner I would offer to have the gown restored and preserved at no charge for you. 

i want to open a dry clean/laundry drop-off. Where do i start looking for the company that will do the actual cleaning?

Asked by Preston over 5 years ago

I would begin by discussing this with dry cleaners that are operating plants that you will not be in direct competition with.  Check their quality to make sure they are what you are seeking and negotiate to make sure the pricing will work for both of you. 

I am new to the industry and I got a job in one of dry cleaners but I don't know most of the clothes's name and words I should use if u can help me with this I will be glad. Thank you

Asked by emushakonjo@yahoo.com about 5 years ago

I would recommend having the owner of your plant enroll you in some of the DLI training courses that are available.  They have a number of courses available by correspondence, online and at DLI that would be of tremendous help to you.  

How do cleaners with multiple pick up centres and one production facility ensure that customers clothes don't get mixed up

Asked by A.Y about 5 years ago

All of the garments are tagged/marked in as to which customer brought the garment in.  These are then sorted by these markers after cleaning.  Each location, usually has their own particular identifiers for marking.  These completed orders are then sent to the corresponding store, based on their markings.  

Help!! A klutz spilled a mojito on my Fendi black dress! Am desperately doing the research to take the dress to the best dry cleaner in NYC or in NJ! Any suggestions??

Asked by evedr about 5 years ago

I would recommend finding a dry cleaner that has the DLI Seal of Approval Award of Excellence.  You should be able to find a list of these at www.dlionline.org

How do you spot clean light khaki pants without taking out color or leaving marks where you spot cleaned ?

Asked by Sharon about 5 years ago

Khaki's can usually be spot cleaned.  I would take the pre-caution of pre-testing the stain removal agent on an un-exposed seam to see how the color will react with the agent, before I actually attempt the removal of the stain.  Most of the time, there should not be a problem, however, there are some poorly constructed garments making their way to market and it is possible to run across some of these from time to time. 

Hello! I have a light grey dress that seems to have gotten some bleach on it recently. There's now a small spot on the collar where the original color faded and turned slightly pink. Can a dry cleaners fix this?

Asked by VKR about 5 years ago

That is usually a problem that cannot be corrected.  A professional cleaner may be able to re-dye the garment for you, but this is almost a lost art and there are very few left in the industry with this skill. 

iv had a dress dry cleaned however some of the stain was not removed, will dry cleaning the dress again help to remove it?

Asked by katy almost 5 years ago

I would recommend taking the dress back to the cleaner that processed it and ask their opinion.  They may have overlooked it the first time (unfortunately, this happens).  They should redo the dress at not charge, provided you have not worn it since the last cleaning.  If they feel they cannot remove the stain, I would recommend taking it to another cleaners.

Stain removal can be compared to an art in many ways.  Often one cleaner may not have the experience, training or abilities that another may have.  if possible, find a DLI Award of Excellence cleaners near you by checking the Drycleaners and Launderers Institute website. 

I have a problem in my dry cleaner and the problem is that , on the control panel , i see a chines language how i change it from chines to english

Asked by Abdul Samad about 5 years ago

I would contact the manufacturer of the machine. 

The dry cleaner ruined my 1 month old comforter. The fiber inside is all bunched up and the sides/corners and it looks awful. I believe they put it in the washer, not the dry clean machine. They refuse to pay for their obvious mistake. ???

Asked by Beth almost 5 years ago

This type of problem is currently occuring regularly in the dry cleaning industry and an experienced dry cleaner would realize it. While it is not exactly the fault of the dry cleaner, they should have realized the potential for this to occur and taken steps to avoid it.   Also the problem would have most likely occured in both drycleaning and laundering.  You should always allow the professional dry cleaner to determine the type of method to be used in cleaning the garment. Often the dry cleaning customer will specify that they want a garment dry cleaned, when wet cleaning the garment may be the best option.  Having said that, lets look at the problem that occured.  

The material used inside the material is often just placed inside and not sewn.  What happens is that when this item is tumbling inside of the washer or dry cleaning machine, this material can shift around and bunch up, like the problem you are having.  The professional dry cleaner can use gentler programs utilizing shorter wash cycles, higher solvent/water levels and shorter dry cycles or even air dry the item to help reduce the likeliness of this problem occuring.  

Can it fix my ripped coat

Asked by Aleecia almost 5 years ago

If a drycleaner also has a tailor or alteration person on the premises, they may be able to fix your ripped coat.  If they do not, I would recommend taking it to an alterations or tailor shop.  

We do a lot of outdoor winter sports and I was wondering if dry cleaning would help with the mild body odor smell in one of my favorite Patagonia down sweaters? I have successfully washed it at home following the instructions but the BO lingered.

Asked by Amanda almost 5 years ago

Quite often, down garments are processed with a much better result by wet cleaning them.  While dry cleaning can remove some odors and requires a bit more work to remove them, wetcleaning (if the garment can be wetcleaned), can give a much better result.  

There are some odor eliminating products available to dry cleaners that can encapsulate and remove the odor very successfully in both dry cleaning and wet cleaning.  Odorex by Streets, is one that I would recommend.  Often, dry cleaners will use a "masking agent", to cover smells with a desirable fragrance., this can work well too, provided you like the new smell added.  I prefer to go with the odor eliminators to remove the smell. 

I had an expensive white shirt laundered at a new to me cleaner. It came back with a very dingy collar and cuffs. I took it to another cleaner and he said it was ruined from cheap soap and he couldn't fix it. Is it shot?

Asked by RobertC almost 5 years ago

While improper cleaning procedures, along with ineffective additives can cause a problem such as dinginess, you cannot rule out that there could be some problems in the manufacturing of the garment as well.  

Using some aggressive cleaning procedures, such as soaking and bleaching, it may be able to be corrected.  However, without seeing the garment, the second cleaner may be absolutely correct in saying that it may not be able to be corrected.  

Hi,
I have accidentally shrunk best trousers! Is there any thing I can do to restore them back to there original size? Material is 50% VISCOSE and 46% ACETAT!
Please help!!

Asked by Maria Tayler almost 5 years ago

Depending on the severity of the shrinkage, your dry cleaner may be able to stretch the garment and treat it with a sizing/fabric finish to hold its size and regain some of it originial shape.  This treatment is not permanent and will have to be done each time the garment is cleaned.   If the shrinkage is severe, the problem will not be able to be corrected. 

Do dry cleaner's have seasonality? What months are you the most busy? Why?

Asked by Ashley almost 5 years ago

I feel that there is a bit of seasonality with most cleaners, especially in colder climates.  In the colder areas, there is a definite increase in poundage processed due to the change to heavier garments and outerware in the winter.  In the warmer months, a large number of people take their vacations, resulting in less garments needing cleaning and they may not be wearing the same amount of garments that require dry cleaning, even though the wet cleaned garments still need professional finishing to look good. 

 

I have a hockey sweater that has been signed by a bunch of players. I want to clean it without fading the signatures. is dry cleaning a good way to do it and is there anything specific I need to tell them to do? thanks

Asked by mike almost 5 years ago

I would not dry clean the garment or have it cleaned by a very reliable dry cleaner. Quite often, the components used in some inks can dissolve quite easily in dry cleaning solvent and in water too.  Because of that, I would be very prudent in my choice of dry cleaners, discuss your concerns and if you do not feel confident in their ability, I would not leave the garment with them.  

By mistake, a few times I have dry cleaned an old overcoat with a syn-thetic 'down type' filling (Primaloft). The manu- facturer recommends just regular cleaning. Have I ruined the coat? Should I do something? Thanks.

Asked by PW almost 5 years ago

Primaloft is an excellent alternative to down.  I enjoy backpacking and will often pack a Primaloft jacket and sleeping bag if hiking in wet weather, as opposed to my down filled gear.  

Primaloft is best cared for by machine washing with a mild detergent and tumbling dry at a low temperature.  This allows for it to "fluff" up and gives it its downlike insulating qualities.  

While drycleaning down and Primaloft can cause some problems in the drying portion of the process, if you have not experienced any type of physical damage to the garment and it still appears to be "fluffy", I would not be concerned.  However, with future cleanings, I would recommend wetcleaning of this type of garment. 

 

Not being funny, but how much lint does a dry cleaner produce in a day? If at all? Thanks

Asked by jojoboy almost 5 years ago

That is a tough question.  First it depends on the amount of garments being processed, as well as the types of garments.  Lint is produced from mechanical action taking place in the dry cleaning machine.  This happens as the clothes tumble during both the cleaning and drying portions of the dry cleaning cycle.   This lint will end up in several places.  

1)  The lint filter.

2) The filtration system.

3) In the still (when using a 2-bath process)

4) On the clothing that is being cleaned (especially when no detergent or an ineffective detergent is being used.  

A good rule of thumb is that 100 lbs. of cleaning will release about 1/2 pound of insoluble soils.  Insoluble soil will not be 100% lint and I am not sure what percentage of these insolubles would be lint, but lets say 50%.  So, if a dry cleaner cleans 200 lbs. of average soiled garments.  1 pound of soil would be released.  If that 1 pound contains 50% lint, I would expect 8 ounces of lint to be produced per every 200 lbs. cleaned.  

That is the best I can do.  It is a very ball parkish estimate, but I think you can also see that the actual amount of lint released is a very small amount.  

           

hi what the best way to get my kilt cleaned it been it the family for over 100 years so its very delicate thanks

Asked by robert almost 5 years ago

I would recommend finding an DLI "Award of Excellence" cleaner in your area.  These can be located on the DLI website:  www.ifi.org.  Award of Excellence dry cleaners are professional dry cleaners that have displayed a skill set that shows they are exactly that, excellent dry cleaners. 

Explain to them the age of the garment, ask if they are accustomed to cleaning heirloom type garments and do not hesitate to ask for a reference.  If the garment is heavily soiled or stained, it may be difficult to use the aggressive techniques required to clean a very delicate garment, but your Award of Excellence dry cleaner should be able to predict what type of results you can expect. 

Is it safe to dryclean leather?

Asked by John Boy Walton 9 months ago

I would recommend taking leather garments to the dry cleaner, as opposed to cleaning them on your own. There can be several different processes used, depending on the type of leather, trim, dyes used, etc. Some of these may be better off cleaned in a wetcleaning method, while others may be better off cleaned in specific solvents. Leave it to the professional dry cleaner to solve you problem.

I have a new wool suit I would like to have dry cleaned. It does not look like it needs cleaning but for personal reasons I want to be sure that it is thoroughly dry cleaned. How can I be sure that it is, and is not just pressed? Thank you.

Asked by EH 24 days ago

 

What kinds of common dirt and food items will easily dry clean from a wool suit? Thank you.

Asked by EH 24 days ago

 

I wear a white shirt to work every day and have been doing so for more than 40 years. Recently, the cleaner has been returning them with brown spots on the collar. The shirts are Nordstom-100% cotton.

Asked by Lloyd 8 months ago

 

What are some challenges or hurdles Dry Cleaner owners face in their day-to-day operations?

Asked by Nicholas Hanley 3 months ago

 

My husband had a suit dry cleaned. There was apparently a mint in the jacket pocket that was dry cleaned along with the jacket. The result was a huge white, powdery stain over the whole right side of the jacket. How do I get this out???

Asked by TJ 8 months ago

 

what's the best way to get paint out of linen curtains?

Asked by sc in la 2 months ago