How to Talk to Your Dry Cleaner
The world of dry cleaning is mysterious. You bring a garment in need of cleaning to a stranger behind a counter. That garment is whisked away to some hidden location and returns to you (hopefully) clean.
This transaction brings up a lot of questions. What happens to your clothing when it is dry cleaned? How can you be sure that it’s being properly cared for? And how often should you get clothing dry cleaned?
We’ll answer that last question first. When a piece of clothing is dry cleaned, it is treated with chemical solvents that strip away dirt and stains. However, those chemicals can also be tough on fabrics, which can break down fibers so that a suit will look “shiny” or lose its “bounce.”
For that reason, you should take shirts and suits to the dry cleaners sparingly. For regular cleaning, you can simply brush or spot clean your own suits at home.
But there are some stains only a dry cleaner can handle. And when that time comes, you’ll want to know exactly what’s going on. Here are some ways to talk to your dry cleaner:
Ask for button foil. The chemical solvents used by dry cleaners can also strip away the gloss from a button. Responsible dry cleaners will safeguard against this hazard by covering your buttons with foil.
Be specific. Always point out the stain, and let the cleaner know exactly what it is: red wine and tomato sauce may leave similar stains, but they are cleaned in different ways. You should also let them know precisely what fibers make up the suit’s fabric: don’t always assume that they will check the tag.
Learn who’s doing the cleaning. Some dry cleaners treat all of the clothing in-house, but others send it to a large cleaning facility that may also be used by other dry cleaners. Sending your garments out to a third party increases the chances that they may be lost, so selecting a dry cleaner that does it themselves will grant some extra piece of mind.
Find out if they’re green. Perchloroethylene, the chemical most commonly used for dry cleaning, has come under scrutiny for its adverse environmental effects. Fortunately, there’s been a rise in “green dry cleaners” using alternative solvents that are easier on the environment and your clothing.