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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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.
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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