Dry cleaning services: What cleaners say they do vs. what they actually do

Most ordinary cleaners say one thing. But do something completely different.

So they’re forced to make things up in an attempt to sound good while hiding what’s really going on.

The only way to explain this statement is to juxtapose true quality cleaning against ordinary or “bang and hang” cleaning.

Here’s a start to that list...

  • They say they pre-spot every garment, but they just load all garments into a dry cleaning machine and maybe post-spot them. (Pre-spotting is targeted stain removal by a skilled technician prior to cleaning the garment in a dry cleaning machine; post-spotting is a 'Hail Mary" attempt to remove a stain after the garment has been dry cleaning, at which time the stain might have already been "set" by the heat generated by the machine's dry cycle).
  • They say they clean your garments in an odorless, fabric-gentle, dermatologically-friendly dry cleaning fluid, but they still use fabric aggressive, dye stripping, toxic solvents like perchloroethylene (aka perc), synthetic petroleum (aka petroleum) or formaldehyde dibutyl acetal.
  • They say they purify their dry cleaning solvent after every load, but they only do so a few times a week.
  • They say they dry clean your cottons and linens as you requested or as specified by the care label, but they wet clean or wash them and toss them in a dryer.
  • They say they operate their dry clean machines with zero moisture, zero sizing and zero fragrence, but they add or inject moisture, sizing and fragrance into their dry cleaning solvent.
  • They say they gently hand iron your garments, but they machine press them at a rate of 20 to 40 per hour per presser.
  • They say they offer alterations, but they have no skilled tailor or alterationist on premises.
  • They say they employ a tailor or alterationist to make all necessary repairs, but they often assign the task to a customer service representative with some free time on their hands.
  • They say they soak your laundered shirts in a gentle dry cleaning fluid (to dissolve oil-based stains) and then in a water-based solution (to eliminate water-based stains), but they scrub your collars and cuffs with hard-bristled brushes and “collar/cuff solution” in an (often futile) attempt to get them reasonably clean.
  • They say they gently wet clean your shirts in cool or warm water, but they wash your shirts in hot water in an (often futile) attempt to dissolve the oil-based stains.
  • They say they use a gentle enzyme detergent, but they use a harsh, caustic, industrial grade detergents in an attempt to eliminate the water-based stains.
  • They say they use no bleach, but they add fabric-destroying bleaches in an attempt to get your whites reasonably white.
  • They say they use a premium, natural wheat starch, but they starch your shirts with cheap synthetic glue that adheres to your shirt’s fibers like multiple coats of paint.
  • They say they hand iron your shirts, but they machine press them at a rate of 40 to 50 per hour per presser, which leaves your shirts with puckered seams, wrinkled collars, cuffs, underarms, sleeve pleats, sleeve plackets and front plackets, and wrinkled cuff/sleeve and sleeve/body joins.
  • They say they crease the sleeves of your shirts for that “professional look”, but they only crease the sleeves to cover up evidence of machine pressing.
  • They say they conduct detailed inspections of every garment prior to packaging, but they only do a cursory look over (maybe, if you’re lucky).
  • They say they care about the manner in which your garments are cleaned and pressed, but they then stuff multiple garments into a single, narrow poly bag and cram them onto an already overloaded conveyor.
  • They say they package your garments using premium packaging materials, but they use cheap packaging materials that may “look pretty” but aren’t technically aligned with and supportive of the shape and drape of your garments over the short and long term.
  • They say that they charge a price that reflects the “high quality” of the product they deliver, but they still charge relatively low prices (the reality is that no service provider can consistently deliver a true quality product at a low to moderate price, notwithstanding anything your cleaner might tell you).
  • They say they take the time to do the job right, but they routinely offer same and next day service or 3 day pickup and delivery service (the reality is that true quality in the garment care business is incompatible with speed, notwithstanding anything your cleaner might tell you).

The contradictions are endless.

This probably explains why clients are amazed when a dry cleaner and shirt laundry actually does what they say they do.