How to choose a dry cleaner
When shopping for a dry cleaner do not just shop by price because what we are selling you is Time, Experience, Quality & Service.
First you must determine what you want from your dry cleaner. And what do I mean by that? Are you looking for the cheapest place in town, do you want quality work, a quick one hour turn around, does it have to be down the street from you house, are you looking for an experienced place to take you high end garments, are keeping the white garments white a top priority or is stain removal the most important issue? And now there is a new factor to add in, do you want your clothes cleaned in a solvent or cleaned in a certified green (Wet Clean) system.
Deciding on the type of dry cleaner you are looking for is important to know before you begin your search. The best way is to separate the dry cleaners into three categories:
- High volume crank out the work type dry cleaner, often lowest priced.
- Mid range try to do it all dry cleaner, they will offer some discounting or coupons but will also try to offer quality work. Most of the cleaners around fall into this category.
- High end professional dry cleaners focus solely on quality and service placing the priority on the customer and their garments. These types of cleaners few and far between.
How do you determined which dry cleaner is which? You must question them to see what they offer and how they offer it.
- Start with the appearance of the store. Is it a place you want to leave your clothes?
- Can you effectively communicate with them.
- Ask them what type of cleaning system they use?
- How knowledgeable is the staff. What do they use for a specific type of stain?
- Have they handled a specific type of material or garment before?
- Do they have experience handling a specific type of stain?
- How long have they been in the dry cleaning business?
- Ask to see some of the clothes on the racks.
- Ask them about the type of work they offer and compare that with their pricing.
The majority of dry cleaners fall into the mid range category leaving few in the high volume and upper end range. There is nothing wrong with any of these types of businesses; it’s a matter of your preference.
Keep in mind we are all for profit businesses so if you are paying less the chances are you are getting less and if you are pay more you are getting more. It’s difficult to a high volume store to stop and spend extra time on a stain regardless what the counter person promise you. The way that these types of stores are set up is assembly line like to mass produce garments.
Mid range stores try to offer low pricing and service. That’s an oxymoron because service requires time and time cost money so you can’t have both, sorry no free lunch.
High end cleaners offer expertise because they are on the up end of the pricing scale they must spend the time to remove all the stains, and press the garments properly to survive.
One new category of dry cleaners is the green dry cleaner. What exactly does that mean to you the consumer?
Traditional dry cleaning is similar to washing your clothes in a large washer/dryer, instead of water coming into the machine a solvent called Perchloroethylene (PERC) comes in along with a detergent. Your clothes are “cleaned” in this solvent (toxic or not) and dried. A little trivia for you, “did you know that everything the PERC solvent touches becomes toxic except for the clothes. The lint and dirt from the clothes, detergents, spotting agents, filters, even the machines become toxic and need to be handled and removed as toxic material.” The solvent is reused and distilled at some point when it becomes to dirty to use, which depends on the dry cleaner you go because it takes a lot of energy to distill. Hence the amount they distill will result in the amount of redeposition, which is the graying you see in white garments, all garments get redeposition, you only see it in the white ones.
More and more you begin to see Green Dry Cleaners appear. Some dry cleaners use an alternative solvent such as GreenEarth, DF 2000, DrySolv, PureSolv, EcoSolv, Shell Sol 140 HT, Staddoard, Rynex, and Solvair and call themselves green. None of these solvents are green certified.
The Bay Area Green Business Program will only certify a dry cleaner if they are using the Wet Clean System or liquid C02 system. If non toxic, solvent free cleaning is important to you than you need to look for a cleaners that has a been certified by the Bay Area Green Business Program. In San Francisco they will need to be certified by the San Francisco of Environment.
As you can see, price should not be the driving factor behind how you shop for a dry cleaner. Your health is priceless.
Pacific Heights Cleaners
Service with Pride since 1969
The First Dry Cleaners to be Green Business Certified by San Francisco Environment and Bay Area Green Business Program Marin County.
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