After dropping your clothes at the neighborhood dry cleaner, do you ever wonder what happens to them next? Most people don’t give it another thought until it’s time to pick them up. For the curious, however, here are a few things that might surprise you.
Your clothing usually takes another round-trip journey before landing on the dry cleaning conveyor to await pickup. The laundry equipment is often off-site in a large plant that serves multiple locations. This business model is more cost-effective, both for dry cleaners and their customers.
First, your clothes are tagged, so after being cleaned in bulk with others, they can be sorted out again. Once labeled, the garments are inspected for stains and pre-treated if necessary. Then the clothes are put into the laundry machine with a cleaning solvent, which is not technically dry. It merely contains no water. After cleaning, the clothes are rechecked for stains, treated again if necessary, then pressed, packaged and returned to the neighborhood shop where you’ll pick them up.
Some clothes shouldn’t be dry cleaned, even though the fabric is delicate. If the care instructions on the label don’t say “dry clean only,” they should be laundered instead. However, that doesn’t mean your dry cleaner can’t do it for you. For example, button-down shirts, while taken to the dry cleaner, go into an industrial washer and dryer. Once cleaned and pressed, they are ready to be picked up with the rest of your dry cleaning.
For some of us, what happened behind the scenes was a mystery. The only thing we were concerned about was that our clean clothes were returned, covered in plastic without anyone else’s garments mixed in. Next time, you may look at the inside of the dry cleaners shop differently.