5 Things You Need To Know When Selecting A New Dry Cleaner
1. Shirt Quality
It might sound totally crazy, but the first thing you should do when selecting a new dry cleaner is look at the quality of their laundered shirts. For a dry cleaner, a perfect dress shirt is the hardest item to consistently get right every time. For the customer, it is the easiest item to judge a dry cleaner's quality and attention to detail.
Look for these quality points when inspecting laundered shirts.
- Whites must be white, and colors must be bright.
- Shirts should NOT have a buildup of body oil around the collar.
- Shirts should be finished (ironed) to perfection with no obvious wrinkles.
- Missing or broken buttons should be replaced for FREE!
- The collar should be folded sharply along it's seam.
Tip: If you find a dry cleaner that consistently delivers a high-quality dress shirt, then they are probably doing a great job in all areas of the business.
2. Dry Cleaning Solvent
There are two essential questions to ask when selecting a reputable and quality dry cleaner:
- What type of solvent do you use?
- How do you keep your solvent clean?
Without going into too much detail, most dry cleaners in the United States use one of three different dry-cleaning solvents: Perchlorethylene (Perc), Petroleum, or Silicone. In a future blog, I will discuss dry cleaning solvents in more detail.
- Perc cleans clothes effectively, but has earned a bad reputation for its environmental impact and the health risks it presents to dry cleaners and customers alike.
- Silicon is a solvent that is environmentally conscious but doesn't clean clothes very well.
- Petroleum solvents are a good balance of being environmentally friendly and actually cleaning clothes. You should select a dry cleaner that uses a petroleum solvent such as EcoSolve, DF-2000 or Stoddard.
Now that you know what solvent is being used, find out if the solvent is clean! In the dry-cleaning process, the solvent is recycled for every load of clothes. Since the solvent is recycled, it is imperative for the dry cleaner to maintain the solvent's purity.
The best dry cleaners will filter the solvent during the entire cleaning cycle. This ensures all the impurities are being removed from the solvent and thus not being left in the clothes. However, these filters must be changed on a regular schedule. Additionally, dry cleaners should distill their solvent on a regular basis.
Tip: If your clothes begin to smell after you put them on, then your dry cleaner is using dirty solvent. As your body heats the garment, the smell will become more intense.
3. Fair Pricing
Pricing should be clear, upfront, and easy to understand. An honest dry cleaner will publish their price list in store or online and provide customers with a complete price list upon request. Pricing should never be based on race, color, religion, national origin, gender, marital status or age. A dry cleaner's pricing should be based solely upon the costs of doing business, the expertise, and the time it takes to complete the requested dry cleaning or laundry service. In general, you should expect the cost to dry-clean a shirt or blouse to be more expensive than having the exact same item laundered. (Click link for a list of Yale's Prices)
Tip: Look for button-down shirts and blouses made of 100% cotton or cotton/polyester blend if you would like to take advantage of the less expensive service. Only garments made from those materials can be professionally laundered.
4. Speed of Service
What is the dry cleaner's normal speed of service? Do they offer same day? Next Day? Or even worse, 3-day service? In the age of grocery delivery and movies on demand, you shouldn't have to wait 3 days for dry cleaning! In reality, most dry cleaners have a similar process behind the counter and it doesn't take 3 days. So, why should you wait so long for them to clean your clothes? Choose a dry cleaner that doesn't make you beg for same day service.
Tip: You don't have to have as many clothes if your dry cleaner's turnaround time is same day or even next day. Clothes spend less time at the cleaners, so you can wear them more often!
5. Claims Policy
We have all heard the phrase, “I got taken to the cleaners!” Nothing makes me cringe more than hearing someone's dry cleaning horror story. Let's be honest, we are all human, and we all make mistakes. Clothing manufactures, dry cleaners and consumers alike. So, when a garment is damaged or lost, how will the dry cleaner handle the situation?
Every dry cleaner has a different policy. Look for a dry cleaner with the most generous claims policy. In the event a garment is lost or damaged beyond repair, you will want to avoid any dry cleaner that limits the value of the item to the price of cleaning times some multiple. (Example: Customer's item cost $200 and was lost by the dry cleaner. Cost to clean a garment $6.50 x 10 = $65. In this example, the dry cleaner will not pay more than $65 for the item, even if it cost substantially more.)
Tip: Most one price dry cleaners have a very limited claims policy. Make sure to know their policy before dropping off your clothes.
John Rothrock, CGCP
John Rothrock is the President and CEO of Yale Cleaners, a local family business focused on providing high quality, same day dry cleaning with exceptional customer service. He earned a degree in Business Administration in 2005 from The University of Oklahoma. John is a graduate of the Drycleaning and Laundry Institute and is a Certified Professional Drycleaner (CPD), Certified Professional Wetcleaner (CPW), and a Certified Environmental Drycleaner (CED). Having all three of these certifications makes him a Certified Garment Care Professional (CGCP), a distinction held by few people in the dry cleaning industry.
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