4 Ways to Spot a Good Dry Cleaner

The quality of work varies drastically from one dry cleaner to another. If you’re considering taking your clothes to an unfamiliar cleaner, here’s what you need to do to avoid having your duds ruined.

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If you plan on using a new dry cleaner anytime soon, laundry expert Brent Newbold suggests giving him an audition. Take in just three items to be cleaned:

– A cotton shirt.
– A light-coloured linen shirt or blouse.
– A light-coloured silk garment.

These three offer just enough variety for you to evaluate a dry cleaner’s work. When you get your clothing back, here’s what you need to look for.

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Did the garments come back their original colour or was there a dull tint to them? If the latter, then the dry cleaner is skimping by not cleaning his filters regularly. This will be particularly evident in the light-coloured clothing. Also, if your cleaner has too much moisture in his cleaning solvent, it will draw colour out of silk garments and fade them.

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Is the pressing neatly done? Each garment should look perfect and ready to wear. A good dry cleaner hires experienced pressers who know tons of tricks for giving every garment a clean and crisp look. Rookie employees-or employees with too big a workload-will do a sloppy job. The cotton shirt is a good test of pressing quality because it’s a common item that many cleaners do not press well. If you want to throw an extra pressing challenge at the cleaner, turn in a pleated skirt or pleated pants along with the garments listed above. (Pleats require extra time and effort, and the cleaner’s staff should double-check afterward that the pressing was correctly done.)

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Fabric Feel

Fabric Feel

Does the garment look and feel the way it did when you first bought it? If the dry cleaner has correctly added sizing to the garment, it will have a like-new body. Otherwise, it will feel limp-like an old rag. Because it requires more heat than any other fabric, linen is one of the most difficult for a cleaner to “finish” properly with pressing and sizing. A good cleaner also uses special products to keep your silk feeling soft and supple.

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Are there broken or missing buttons? Good dry cleaners will bend over backward to replace missing or damaged buttons for free-even when the problem is not the cleaners’ fault. They will retrieve a loose button from the button trap in their machines, find a replacement in their in-house supply or trek to a garment shop or button supplier to find the right match.

Besides examining the garment, you should also consider the facility’s turnaround time. A conscientious dry cleaner will have your clothes done within two hours if you’re in a hurry. If you’re told the wait is three days, go somewhere else.

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