13 Things Your Dry Cleaner Won’t Tell You

Dry cleaners give you 13 tips on how to get the most for your dollar.

By Adam Bluestein and Maureen Mackey from Reader's Digest | February 2009

5 more secrets your dry cleaner won’t tell you

1. Lots of ‘dry’ cleaning isn’t.
“We do about 24 percent of garments in water,” says Chuck Horst, president of Margaret’s Cleaners in La Jolla, California. Perspiration doesn’t come out otherwise.

2. It’s not your gender, it’s your clothes.
Women’s clothes—silk, special trims, buttons, slacks without a crease—can take more work and cost more too.

3. Yes, we use perchloroethylene (perc).
It’s a probable carcinogen, but it’s the best thing we have right now. If you can smell it on your clothes, they weren’t cleaned correctly.

4. Most green cleaning is more green than clean. “Green Earth, a silicone-based cleaner, is safer and friendlier,” says Steve Boorstein of clothingdoctor.com, “but it doesn’t remove the multitude of stains that hydrocarbon and perc do.”

5. People never remember to pick up their comforters. That’s why this place sometimes looks like a Bed Bath & Beyond.

6. You blame us for damage, we blame your clothes. Instead of court or the Better Business Bureau, we’ll suggest the International Textile Analysis Laboratory, run by our trade association. It’s independent (honest!), and both sides get a report.

7. We’ve got our own definition of replace. We follow the Drycleaning and Laundry Institute’s Fair Claims Guide. For a dress shirt that’s a year old, that means 40 percent of the actual replacement cost.

8. Your lost clothes are probably in someone else’s closet. We’d really prefer not to write you a check. (And if we say we have to get in touch with our insurance company, we could be stalling, hoping the clothes will turn up.)

9. Many of us will reuse your intact hangers and clean shirt cardboards. (Thanks.)

10. If we’re charging you premium rates, please… Let us sew that button on.

11. We’re not raking it in. The machinery is expensive. The people who press your silk shirt get up to $20 an hour. It’s a skill.

12. Things happen. We’ve heard stories about dry cleaners who borrow a customer’s dress for a weekend. But we’re sure they return it clean.

13. Quality knows quality. The best clothing store in town can recommend the best dry cleaner in town.

Plus:
4 Solutions to Common Laundry Problems
How to Save Time and Money on Laundry Day
5 Best Baking Soda and Vinegar Cleaning Solutions