Dry Cleaning

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Dry Cleaning


Dry cleaning businesses clean garments and textiles that are too delicate to be washed in water for private and commercial customers. They may also offer related services such as ironing and clothing alterations. Some firms provide a delivery service, which is proving increasingly popular. It may be possible to operate this kind of business as a franchise.

The market for dry cleaning has emerged from a combination of factors, including rises in disposable income and the growing popularity of convenience services. Dry cleaning is a competitive arena, however, and many businesses now provide additional services in order to increase profits.



Dry cleaning is a competitive industry populated primarily by small businesses, although a few large chains such as Johnsons have been extremely successful. A trend for franchise operations is also emerging. The sector is facing rising costs due to the need to maintain standards by using increasingly sophisticated equipment and the legal obligations of impending environmental legislation. Many businesses provide other services such as alterations and repairs as a means of boosting profits.

We are a convenience-driven, 24-hour society. People work long hours and struggle to find the right balance between life and work, while rises in disposable income have contributed to the willingness of consumers to spend money on services that would once have been considered luxuries. Taking the trend for convenience still further, dry cleaning and laundry services that offer a pick-up or delivery option are becoming increasingly popular.



Dry-cleaners clean clothing, linens, drapes, and other articles, using washing, drying, and dry-cleaning machines. They also may clean leather, suede, furs, and rugs. Items made of a combination of fabrics frequently need special attention to avoid damaging items during the cleaning process.

Laundry and dry-cleaners typically do the following:

  • Receive items from customers and mark them with codes or names
  • Inspect articles for stains and fabrics that require special care
  • Sort articles to be cleaned by fabric type, color, and cleaning technique
  • Load clothing into laundry and dry-cleaning machines
  • Add detergent, bleach, and other chemicals to laundry and dry-cleaning machines
  • Remove, sort, and hang clothing and other articles after they are removed from the machines
  • Clean and maintain laundry and dry-cleaning machines

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers ensure proper cleaning of clothing, linens, and other articles. They adjust machine settings for a given fabric or article, as determined by the cleaning instructions on each item of clothing. Workers add the proper type and amount of cleaning detergent or liquid solvents to washing machines, which agitate clothes similar to washing machines in most homes.

When necessary, workers treat spots and stains on articles before washing or dry-cleaning. They monitor machines during the cleaning process and ensure that items are not lost or placed with items of another customer.

Often laundry and dry-cleaning workers interact with customers. They take the receipts, find the customer's clothing, take payment, make change, and do the cash register work that retail sales people do.

Some dry-cleaners offer alteration services. Often, sewers and tailors do these tasks, but some laundry and dry-cleaning workers do them as well.


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Companies in this industry operate self-service laundry facilities or provide dry cleaning, specialty cleaning and full-service laundering services. Major US companies include Coinmach Service, Mac-Gray, and Martin Franchises.

The laundry facilities and dry cleaning services industry includes about 30,000 companies with combined annual revenue of about $11 billion. The industry includes about 20,000 companies that provide retail laundry and dry cleaning services and account for about 70 percent of industry revenue, and about 10,000 companies that operate laundromats and account for the remaining 30 percent of revenue.


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