What You Should Know About Dry Cleaning
We recently spoke with Rocco Carzo, a friend of Blank Label who operates Bloom Cleaners, a modern dry cleaner in Everett, Massachusetts. Carzo shared some inside-the-industry knowledge, from just how often a suit needs to be dry cleaned to how to avoid getting ripped off.
Suits should be dry cleaned rarely.
“If a guy’s wearing the same suit every day that’s different, but most people cycle through them. Even if you are wearing a jacket and pants a couple times a week every week, getting them washed two or three times a year at the most is probably necessary.”
Make sure you’re not paying for a service you don’t need—and might not even get.
“Most dress shirts are not being placed in a dry cleaning machine. They’re being washed in a more standard manner, similar to what they would do at home. But men may still be selecting the dry clean option, which tends to be more expensive [to the consumer]. And I think that comes with the idea that [dry cleaning] is more effective and more thorough—none of that is really true. If they’re choosing an option that they think is more effective and pay more for they may end up being duped.”
Dry cleaners have an incentive to put your clothing in the dry cleaning machine.
“It washes and dries in the same unit. That’s certainly cost-effective and decreases the likelihood that anything is going to go wrong.”
You should be getting your shirts laundered and pressed at the cleaner’s instead.
“The chemical solvents used in dry cleaning and the very high heat is not good. The chemicals aren’t natural. That, with very high heat over time can wear down your clothes. Cleaning with water can be just as if not more effective”
There is a time for the dry cleaning machine.
“If there’s a stain on it that you don’t know where it came from, or is in place a customer doesn’t feel confident removing on their own.”
But even cleaners should think of it as a last resort.
“Oil and grease stains can be tricky to get out in water. Those are often times when someone might recommend using a dry cleaning machine. We always try to do it with water before: the chemicals involved are very dirty. We want to stay away from those as much as possible. For the customer’s clothes, for the employees that use them and the planet as well.”
The best cleaner should be like a personal trainer.
‘For this result, you have to do that.’ It’s not just, ‘You’re at the dry cleaner you’re gonna be charged for dry cleaning, thank you and see you later.’ We try to work with the customer one on one.”
There are smart ways to vet a cleaner before you commit.
“First and foremost you want to know if they clean on site. That doesn’t necessarily mean they know more, but it just means that they care more and they have more control over the care. Something as simple as online reviews go a long way in determining the reputation of a business. A company can say anything they want. But if a company online isn’t backing it up that’s really a tell-tale sign.”
If a cleaner sends your clothing out to another facility for dry cleaning, they’re likely sending it out for laundering, too.
“There are a lot of places that send out the garments to another production facility. If they send it out it’s either all or nothing.”
Efficiency is the best reason to visit the cleaner.
“The cleaner is going to have the shirt cleaner and looking better because we take the time here to treat it by hand, wash it, let it air dry and press it. Those are a lot of steps. You have to set up this whole assembly line in your home to do those things really, really well."
- Limit your suit dry cleaning to two or three times a year.
- Ask for your shirts to be laundered, not dry cleaned, unless they are heavily stained or soiled.
- Seek out a dry cleaner that launders and dry cleans on-site.