Want to get yourself out of tight spots? Try these
The crime: The spaghetti sauce did it in the dining room. The victim: Your favorite suit. And you need to wear it next week. You need a dry cleaner that will restore your threads, on time, and without fleecing you. Bay Area Consumers’ Checkbook and Checkbook.org collected consumer ratings and compared prices at 241 dry cleaners and found major differences in quality ratings and price. The good news: You don’t have to pay more to get great results.
Many of the dry cleaners that Checkbook evaluated were rated “superior” overall by 90 percent or more of their surveyed customers. On the other hand, some shops received such favorable ratings from fewer than 50 percent of their surveyed customers.
Some things to look out for when you use a dry cleaner:
When you drop off garments, clerks should carefully ask about stains and note information you provide.
Staffers should provide clear answers to questions about whether a difficult stain can be removed.
Does the dry cleaner have an efficient system for finding your garments when you return to pick them up?
Checkbook’s evaluations also include each shop’s rating for price, which is calculated based on prices quoted to its undercover shoppers who checked costs at each shop to clean 12 items.
Checkbook’s shoppers found whopping shopto-shop price variation. For example:
The average price to dry clean a women’s cashmere overcoat was $18.88, the high price was $83.00.
To dry clean a men’s two-piece wool suit, the
The Chronicle is partnering with Bay Area Consumers’ Checkbook magazine and Checkbook.org, a nonprofit consumer group with a mission to help consumers get the best service and lowest prices. Checkbook is supported by consumers and takes no money from the service providers it evaluates. You can see Checkbook’s evaluation of dry cleaners, including price comparisons and advice on how to clean items yourself, until Dec. 5, 2018 at https://www.checkbook.org/CHRONICLE/ drycleaners. low price was $4.50, the highest price was $37.50. To dry clean a women’s silk blouse, the range was from $2.95 to $35.
To launder a men’s cotton dress shirt, the range was from $1.34 to $4.50.
Besides using a shop with low prices, you can save money by cleaning many garments yourself.
Fortunately, Checkbook found no correlation between price and customer satisfaction with service quality. Shops that charge low prices are just as likely to do great work as shops that charge high prices.
Besides using a shop with low prices, you can save money by cleaning many garments yourself. If you learn a few tricks, you can do some of your dry cleaning.
First, a tip: Most clothing manufacturers are required to list only one way to clean a garment. If the tag reads “Dry clean only,” respect that as gospel. But if it says “Dry clean,” that’s the recommended cleaning method, but you might be able to clean it yourself. Don’t try to wash materials that spot or shrink in water. That includes silk, acetate, velvet, taffeta and many wool items. On the other hand, you usually can hand wash or machine wash cashmere, linen, cotton and polyester. If a garment has a lining or trim, pay special attention to care instructions. While hand washing a tweed exterior is probably fine, it might not be safe for its nylon lining.
When taking in your clothes for cleaning, check for stains and point them out to the clerk and provide as much information about them as you can. The more the cleaner knows about what caused a stain, how long it’s been there, and what, if anything, you have used to treat it, the better the chances of removing it. Also indicate any hidden spots — particularly sugary spills (soft drinks, white wine, fruit juice). When you pick up your clothes after cleaning and you discover a problem that you believe the dry cleaner caused, ask to have the work redone; a reputable shop will be happy to redo it for free. If the shop admits an error that resulted in permanent damage to your garment, it should give you the price of the garment and waive cleaning charges.
Unfortunately, you can’t count on getting the replacement cost for your favorite jacket. According to the Fair Claims Guide published by the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute and widely used by dry cleaners, customers and mediators, a dry cleaner is obliged to cover the replacement cost of the garment only after adjustment for its condition and based on the unused portion of its life expectancy — for example, two years for a tie or three years for a women’s blouse.