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Survey: Nearly Two-Thirds of Cleaners Process at Least 20% of Volume Using Wet Cleaning

Bruce Beggs |

CHICAGO — Wet cleaning has gone from being a dry cleaning alternative to a plant staple for processing certain garments, and nearly two-thirds of operators polled in this month’s AmericanDrycleaner.com Wire survey say at least 20% of their volume is professionally wet cleaned.

The largest share of respondents—41.4%—processes 40% or more of customers’ garments using wet cleaning techniques (it’s worth noting that at least three operators who took the anonymous survey indicated they run 100% wet cleaning businesses).

Roughly 21% process 10-20% of their volume using wet cleaning. For 17.2% of respondents, wet cleaning accounts for less than 10% of volume processed. Approximately 14% wet clean 30-40%, and the remaining 6.9% wet clean 20-30% of their volume.

Respondents were asked on what kind(s) of items is wet cleaning their first choice of process; they could choose any or all from several types.

Wet cleaning is the first choice for 86.2% of operators when processing casual clothing and sportswear. Next up for wet cleaning are specialty cleaning (such as draperies and gowns) and “business casual” or softly tailored clothing, both chosen by 51.7%.

Thirty-one percent choose wet cleaning first when processing tailored workwear, while 27.6% prefer it when doing restoration work.

Lastly, cleaners were asked what garment or fiber presents the biggest challenge for their operation in wet cleaning and subsequent finishing. Wool and silk were mentioned most frequently, but satin, acetate and rayon were also seen as problematic.

While the Wire survey presents a snapshot of readers’ viewpoints at a particular moment, it should not be considered scientific.

Subscribers to Wire e-mails—distributed twice weekly—are invited to take the industry survey anonymously online each month. All dry cleaners are encouraged to participate, as a greater number of responses will help to better define operator opinions and industry trends.

To sign up for the Wire, click the “Subscriptions” button at the top right-hand corner of this page and follow the instructions.

About the author

Bruce Beggs

American Trade Magazines LLC

Editorial Director, American Trade Magazines LLC

Bruce Beggs is editorial director of American Trade Magazines LLC, including American Coin-Op, American Drycleaner and American Laundry News. He was the editor of American Laundry News from November 1999 to May 2011. Beggs has worked as a newspaper reporter/editor and magazine editor since graduating from Kansas State University in 1986 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communications. He and his wife, Sandy, have two children.

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