Wardrobe Care 101
YOU'VE SPENT THOUSANDS on your shirts and suits: Why risk penny-pinching at the dry cleaners? Sure, that little place by the gas station can turn around a suit for $10, but there's a reason for that. You get what you pay for, and that often means burned seams, shiny shirts and poorly ironed French cuffs (or worse, starch!). A cleaner I used once in a pinch cut the designer label out of my jacket lining, presumably to sell to a knock-off manufacturer.
You Get What You Pay For
ED D'Elicio, president of AMERICA'S BEST CLEANERS, says a customer should seek out the best.. His organization reviews and rates what they call "COUTURE CLEANERS," and provide education on the latest technologies and techniques. "Seek out STATE-OF-THE-ART, energy-efficient technology, and a staff who is well trained on that technology: We also encourage finding cleaners who use environmentally responsible cleaning methods like organic cleaning fluids, liquid C02 and 'WET' cleaning."
When it comes to those made- to-measure and custom shirts, seek out places that offer hand ironing, or at least hand finishing. Not only does this avoid "shining" on shirts (where they lose some of their depth and texture), but the collars will be properly cared for. Machine finishing can "crush" a shirt and actually shrink it, where hand pressing works the fabric in the right direction.
Of course, just as the cleaner has a responsibility to care for your garments, so too do you have a responsibility to provide as much information to the cleaner as possible for each piece, and to bring clothing in a timely manner. Explain all stains in as much detail as you can (yes, even the embarrassing ones): different stains require different cleaning methods. Avoid applying commercial stain pre-treatments, but let your cleaner know if you did.
Finally; it's important to understand that your dry cleaner isn't a miracle worker-none of us want to be the jerk who sued the family dry cleaner for $54 million for "losing" a pair of pants (they didn't and the lawsuit was thrown out earlier this year). If the stain won't come out, it won't come out no matter how much finagling and negotiating you do.
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