3 Things Your Dry Cleaner Doesn’t Want You to Know


Lipstick mark? Foundation stain? Spilled tea? Motor oil stain? No matter what has soiled your clothes, dry cleaning can help you get rid of them without marring the beauty of the fabric.

Dry cleaning is no less than a mysterious procedure. You go to the dry cleaner, hand over your clothing, get a check, and return. From thereon, what happens with your clothes? Dry cleaners don’t use magic wands to eliminate stains from your clothes and make them as good as new.

Many think that dry cleaning doesn’t entail the use of liquid. But they are wrong, as half the garments require water for cleaning. Besides this, there are many secrets of the dry cleaning industry your dry cleaner doesn’t want you to know. We’ll cover a few of them in this guide.

#1 Tetrachloroethylene is Toxic

Tetrachloroethylene, also known as perchloroethylene, has become synonymous with the dry cleaning industry. Over the years, it has become the go-to solvent for dry cleaners because it dissolves oils, waxes, greases, and fats in fabric without damaging fibers.

While it’s an excellent solvent for organic materials, it’s a nasty chemical. A Front. Public Health article reveals that perchloroethylene (PCE) is a potential carcinogen, neurotoxicant, reproductive toxicant, and persistent environmental pollutant. As perchloroethylene is a widely used solvent in the dry cleaning industry, numerous communities are exposed to it.

A cluster of researchers studied a few towns exposed to perchloroethylene in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. After thorough research, they found that people exposed to tetrachloroethylene (TCE) experienced adverse health outcomes. These include increased risk of placental abruptions, delayed time-to-pregnancy, reduced performance on neuropsychological tests, and certain types of cancers.

When speaking of PERC, the Camp Lejeune water contamination tragedy deserves mention. Over one million people present at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune between 1953 and 1987 were exposed to water contaminated with TCE and PCE.

Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry discloses that the Tarawa Terrace water treatment plant, polluted with PCE and TCE, soiled Camp Lejeune’s water supply. The waste disposal practices of an off-base dry cleaning company. ABC-One Hour Cleaners were the source of contamination. Numerous lawsuits have been filed against the federal government, businesses, and other regulatory agencies, says TorHoerman Law.

While Camp Lejeune settlement amounts vary from individual to individual, victims can receive between $10,000 and $500,000.

#2 Full Replacements are a No-Go

You’re wrong if you think your dry cleaner will compensate you for the dress it has ruined. The International Fair Claims Guide for Consumer Textile Products records that every piece of clothing has a set life expectancy. After a period of time, the value of textiles depreciates. The lifetime of certain garments can be alarmingly short. For instance, socks last for one measly year and then go kaput. Likewise, silk dresses and shirts last for only two years.

Unfortunately, sentiments aren’t a factor in the dry cleaning business. You can only expect a 100 percent refund on damaged textiles if they aren’t over four months old. You shall receive only 60 percent of their original value for clothes over four months old. In regard to clothes that are over two years old, you shall be compensated only 20 percent.

#3 You’re Paying Your Dry Cleaner to Maintain Their Equipment

Dry cleaning services are never affordable. You have to pay a pretty penny to get your clothes dry-cleaned. But it’s not the service that costs you a lot of bucks. Dry cleaning is a massively pricey option because complex machinery is used in the process. Otherwise, would it be possible for your dry cleaner to get rid of the mayonnaise stains from your age-old leather pants? Definitely, not!

While socks and ready-to-wear shirts are easy to clean, the range of cotton suits with silk sleeves and sashes or suedes aren’t. Your dry cleaner’s job doesn’t end with tossing your delicate clothes into the machine and letting the solvents do their job. Stained clothing with intricate designs or those that are made of premium fabrics requires special treatment.

Paying between $7 and $10 for such luxurious clothing is reasonable. But if you’re sending your ordinary clothes to dry cleaners, you’re paying for equipment maintenance. Considering that dry cleaners get rid of stains from clothes with care and undertake the painstaking task of replacing broken buttons, dry cleaning services are worth every penny.

The Key Takeaway

There you have it! Three secrets your dry cleaner wouldn’t want you to know ever. But are these the only truths you’re unaware of in the dry cleaning industry? Certainly not! There are many more. Like, your lost clothes aren’t lost, but they are hanging in someone else’s closet. While certifications testify to your dry cleaner’s ability to clean clothes, they aren’t the ultimate arbiter of knowledge or skill. Last but not least, organic doesn’t always mean eco-friendly.

Remember, not all clothes are meant to be dry-cleaned, like shirts and solid-colored sweaters. You can wash them at home. Once you understand this, you’ll be able to make an informed decision as to what should be sent to the dry cleaner. Ultimately, this will reduce your carbon footprint.


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