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#1
Old 08-11-2009, 11:19 AM
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Having dry cleaners launder shirts

I have a bunch of shirts that I don't wear nearly as often as I'd like because they always need to be ironed, and I hate ironing. I've been thinking about looking into outsourcing it. I think at least some dry cleaners do regular laundry in addition to dry cleaning, and I assume they'd iron/press as part of that process. I'm thinking it would be great to just have them do all of my shirts that require ironing.

Has anyone here done that on a regular basis? Are there any major downsides I should be aware of (other than the standard drycleaner issues like the potential that they'll lose your clothes)? Any other ideas (other than getting off my rear and ironing more often)?
#2
Old 08-11-2009, 11:22 AM
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The only downside is the cost. When I've done it, it costs about a dollar per shirt. And another disadvantage is the turnaround time, which is almost a week. So you need at least two weeks' worth of shirts. But the upside is that the laundered shirts look a lot better than the ones I did myself.
#3
Old 08-11-2009, 11:23 AM
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A dollar is actually less than I was expecting. I think that would be well worth it!
#4
Old 08-11-2009, 11:35 AM
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I always get my shirts laundered. They come back on a hanger and I always have enough that I can have a full week's worth in the laundry at any one time.
#5
Old 08-11-2009, 11:36 AM
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Check around with cleaners in your area as prices vary. And take a look at the newspaper or the Valupak coupon mailing, as there are often coupons for dry cleaners.

Also, consider whether you want the shirts starched. I did it for a while, but it seemed to weaken the cotton fibers, so that the shirts failed prematurely.
#6
Old 08-11-2009, 11:46 AM
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Thanks everyone.

Just one clarification -- I'm not talking about dress shirts exclusively (though I do have a bunch of dress shirts). I'm also thinking about having them do random button front casual shirts I have (both long sleeve and short sleeve). Stuff like this: http://bit.ly/3jD6bE (I don't have that particular shirt; I'm just using it as an example). Is that still reasonable, or are they really only going to want to deal with dress shirts?
#7
Old 08-11-2009, 11:57 AM
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It's perfectly reasonable. They'll dry clean and press your ratty t-shirts, if you wish, as well. It's a service you are paying for. If you want creases in your tank tops, you'll get creases in your tank tops.
#8
Old 08-11-2009, 12:03 PM
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While you're at the cleaners, ask about wash-and-fold service for things like bedsheets.

Back when I could walk from home to work, there was a dry cleaner halfway between, and having someone else wash and fold those fitted sheets was a tiny luxury. Compared to the cost of the coin-fed washer and dryer in the apartment building, and hoping someone else wasn't doing their laundry!) the wash and fold only cost about a quarter more per set.

Now, the cost difference would be a lot more, but it was really nice to be able to unwrap the bundle and find perfectly folded sheets.
#9
Old 08-11-2009, 12:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StaudtCJ View Post
It's perfectly reasonable. They'll dry clean and press your ratty t-shirts, if you wish, as well. It's a service you are paying for. If you want creases in your tank tops, you'll get creases in your tank tops.
Nitpick: Do the drycleaners actually dry clean cotton dress shirts? I always assumed that they were laundering them (i.e., with water) and not dry cleaning them (with chemicals). I never asked, though. (And note that my current job allows me to wear knit cotton polo shirts which look OK after being machine washed, dried and then hung immediately without pressing.)
#10
Old 08-11-2009, 12:20 PM
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Yes, actually. They will dry clean your cotton shirts, if you insist. They'd prefer you not specify, in which case they will will launder and press them. But, however, they will dry clean them (and charge you more) if you like.
#11
Old 08-11-2009, 12:21 PM
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That's right - the cleaners do dry cleaning and laundry both. The shirts will be laundered, starched, and pressed.

Many cleaners also do repairs, light tailoring, rug and leather cleaning, and the like. It is worth asking about any of these things.

Things like hemming trousers are a small job, really, but are very hard to fit into many of our lives and keep getting put off. My cleaners would turn this sort of job around in a day. They restitched a heavy canvas duffel bag that had a split seam - I have been using this bag now for thirteen years since the repair without any problems. And most cleaners are small businesses that are family owned.

I love throwing business their way.
#12
Old 08-11-2009, 12:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StaudtCJ View Post
Yes, actually. They will dry clean your cotton shirts, if you insist. They'd prefer you not specify, in which case they will will launder and press them. But, however, they will dry clean them (and charge you more) if you like.
While we're in here: might this be why when I brought some dress shirts to the dry cleaners, they didn't get out the rings-around-the-collar? I'd have thought that dry cleaning would take care of that with ease, but the shirts looked just as dirty when I recieved them, only pressed. I was not happy with the result, but I had assumed they were dry-cleaned, and that dry-cleaning could do no better.

Should I have been more specific about the results I expected? "Something like: Hey, this is not the usual shirt-washing job -- I want this ring-around-the-collar cleaned off if at all possible. If you cannot do so, please tell me now."?

Last edited by bordelond; 08-11-2009 at 12:26 PM.
#13
Old 08-11-2009, 01:03 PM
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One minor problem. Your typical dry cleaner/shirt launderer is not going to be as creful with your shirts as you would. With your basic cotton dress shirt, that's not usually a big problem, but if a button comes off somewhere in the process, it'll be replaced with whatever button they happen to have on hand. I can't count the number of shirts I've had come back with an almost-but-not-the-same button that was slightly off-line from the rest of the buttons.
#14
Old 08-11-2009, 01:19 PM
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I've tried this a few times. My results were not encouraging (and I tried at least 3 different cleaners).

In more than one, they had ironed creases into my shirts. This required me ironing them back out. I have to wonder what the point is when that happens. Washing and drying the shirt are dead simple, the pressing is the time consuming part.

In once instance I got back a completely different shirt than what I had brought.

After about 3 or 4 times at a few different places, I finally just gave up.
#15
Old 08-11-2009, 01:36 PM
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Our dry cleaner would pick up at the door on Tuesday and have it hanging on our door complete by Thursday night. It was nice when I worked for a place with a business casual dresscode. Further, if you're in the habit of drycleaning your shirts, not only do you save the time of doing it yourself, they'll last longer.

At least that's my experience, YMMV.
#16
Old 08-11-2009, 01:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gotpasswords View Post
Now, the cost difference would be a lot more, but it was really nice to be able to unwrap the bundle and find perfectly folded sheets.
Funnily enough, I recently had a conversation about this with my husband and my mother, except the object sent to the cleaners' wasn't a set of sheets but a tablecloth. A beautiful, hand-embroidered tablecloth that my sister bought in Vietnam. I admit that it probably costs as much to send the tablecloth to the cleaners twice, or at most three times, as it did for her to buy the dang thing in the first place. I admit this.

But. I only use it a few times a year. And I get to pick it up all neatly pressed and wrapped in neatly creased paper. I love that feeling so much that I find myself wondering if I can justify sending our plain white Ikea tablecloths to the cleaners (so far, nope, not even to myself). And I don't have to worry about the tablecloth (which, have I mentioned, is beautiful? and hand-embroidered?) being ruined because it's in the hands of people who do this for a living rather than me or, worse, fella bilong missus flodnak, who is sweet and a great husband and all but whose idea of doing laundry is to cram stuff in, add some detergent and push the button that looks most like "Play". And our local cleaners' is owned and operated by a family who give such terrific service that I always leave with a smile on my face. And they're a small business, run by hard-working immigrants yet, just to complete the stereotype. I like supporting their business and I love having that work done for me. It's worth the money.

Fella bilong missus flodnak gets it. Mom doesn't. This is why I married my husband and not my mother (who is also very sweet and a good mom and does laundry much better than my fella).
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#17
Old 08-11-2009, 02:02 PM
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Anecdote: About fifteen years ago, I was in India on vacation. We were in a hotel in New Delhi during the last few days and I was thinking about how I'd have to wash all my clothes when I returned. I happened to look at the pricesheet for the hotel laundry service, and found that it was ridiculously cheap, in dollar terms. So I sent out everything to be laundered and for a week or so afterward, wore underwear that had been cleaned and ironed. (In the US, the hotel laundry service is usually ridiculously expensive, so that cleaning one shirt might cost five bucks.)
#18
Old 08-11-2009, 02:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sharding View Post
I have a bunch of shirts that I don't wear nearly as often as I'd like because they always need to be ironed, and I hate ironing. I've been thinking about looking into outsourcing it. I think at least some dry cleaners do regular laundry in addition to dry cleaning, and I assume they'd iron/press as part of that process. I'm thinking it would be great to just have them do all of my shirts that require ironing.

Has anyone here done that on a regular basis? Are there any major downsides I should be aware of (other than the standard drycleaner issues like the potential that they'll lose your clothes)? Any other ideas (other than getting off my rear and ironing more often)?

Many places have 1.50 dry cleaners these days. The laundry service is usually the same. You should look around for one.

I bring everything but undergarments to the cleaners. I don't have the time to iron and the clothes last much longer if they are dry cleaned.
#19
Old 08-11-2009, 03:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bordelond View Post
Should I have been more specific about the results I expected? "Something like: Hey, this is not the usual shirt-washing job -- I want this ring-around-the-collar cleaned off if at all possible. If you cannot do so, please tell me now."?
I've not had this issue, but they may need to specially treat certain types of dirt or stain? I know that my dry cleaners requested that I inform them of deodorant stains, since they had to treat those stains separately. It may also have been that they weren't paying attention. I figure you can't go wrong telling them about individual stains you want gone.
#20
Old 08-11-2009, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dewey Finn View Post
Anecdote: About fifteen years ago, I was in India on vacation. We were in a hotel in New Delhi during the last few days and I was thinking about how I'd have to wash all my clothes when I returned. I happened to look at the pricesheet for the hotel laundry service, and found that it was ridiculously cheap, in dollar terms. So I sent out everything to be laundered and for a week or so afterward, wore underwear that had been cleaned and ironed. (In the US, the hotel laundry service is usually ridiculously expensive, so that cleaning one shirt might cost five bucks.)
When vacationing at a resort in Jamaica, I was tossing clothes in a pile after wearing them. One day all the clothes disappeared! I thought maybe the resort had a laundry service, but nope, the front desk folks had no idea where my clothes were.

The following day they reappeared, laundered and folded neatly. My room maid had taken them home and laundered them. We had gotten along very well, I was traveling by myself, and she was just being nice.

At the time, one US dollar equaled forty-something Jamaican. The tip I left her was almost enough for her to retire on.
#21
Old 08-11-2009, 03:58 PM
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I clerked at a dry cleaner in H.S. Getting shirts laundered and pressed seemed to work great. We sent them out to a laundry. So be aware that the turnaround may be longer than dry cleaning if that's done on site.

Dry cleaning isn't generally a superior way to remove stains. It's more of a cleaning alternative for fabrics that are damaged or distorted by water. There might be an exception for treating specific types of non-water-soluble stains, I suppose.

We rarely if ever drycleaned men's shirts, unless they were silk (it was the '80s ). Repeated dry cleaning tends to yellow white fabrics. If the shirts deviate enough from the standard men's dress shirt design, they may charge extra if their standard presses can't be used and they need to hand press.

Even then it was $1+ per shirt, with something of a discount for multiple shirts in one batch.
#22
Old 08-11-2009, 04:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harriet the Spry View Post
If the shirts deviate enough from the standard men's dress shirt design, they may charge extra if their standard presses can't be used and they need to hand press.
Years ago, I remember consumer affairs stories on the local news in New York City about how dry cleaners charged more for women's shirts than men's. The argument from the cleaners was that women's shirts typically had ruffles or other features that made them more expensive to clean, but the reporter tested this by sending a woman in with shirts identical to that worn by a man. I think that some legislation might have been passed to eliminate the discrepancy.
#23
Old 08-11-2009, 04:50 PM
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I cannot imagine going back to laundering my own dress shirts. I am out the house most days for 12 hours. A shirt costs me $1.35 to be washed, starched and pressed. Worst case scenario is I spend $6.75 a week to have clean, smart looking shirts. Most weeks that amount is $2,70.

To wash, iron, and hang 5 dress shirts would take me around 2 hours. My weekend time is worth one HELL of a lot more to me than $3.38 per hour.

Some stuff I cannot imagine contracting out - my grandfather will hunt me down and do bad things to me if I used a shoeshine place (though I secretly do it in hotels on expenses). But other stuff - shirts, and cleaning my bathroom/kitchen - well, the choice is easy as hell. My time is worth more to me than someone else charges to do it for me.
#24
Old 08-11-2009, 04:53 PM
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By all means get them cleaned and pressed. A week's worth of shirts pressed and on hangers for you--heaven! My brother's in a doorman building in NYC and they pick up and deliver to the building--double heaven!
#25
Old 08-11-2009, 04:55 PM
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hijack

Quote:
Originally Posted by villa View Post
But other stuff - shirts, and cleaning my bathroom/kitchen - well, the choice is easy as hell. My time is worth more to me than someone else charges to do it for me.
I'm almost at that point. Usually a visitor from out-of-town coming gets me off my ass but not this last time so if my parents coming later this year doesn't compel me, it's time to call in reinforcements.
#26
Old 08-11-2009, 06:55 PM
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thank you for this thread! I've been meaning to start one a lot like it recently, but keep forgetting.

Another question, if you don't mind the hijack:

Do they do things that have to be hand-washed? And if it says "line dry" on the tag, will it come back all stiff and icky like it does when I line dry things at home or will it be nice and soft?

I'm very glad to know that they'll launder things if they can be laundered instead of laughing at me and banishing me from their shop and publishing ads on the sides of buses that say "Dorothy fails at functioning like an adult. Point and laugh at her and don't give her a job!" if I bring them my stained striped sweater and the pajamas I got as hand-me-downs that I have no idea what they're made of.

eta: oh! one... or two more questions.

1. There's no chance they could clean my sneakers, is there? They're looking pretty grimy and I'm not really sure how to clean them myself.
2. What about pillows? Like big giant ones that don't have pillowcases. Could they get those clean?

Last edited by SurrenderDorothy; 08-11-2009 at 06:58 PM.
#27
Old 08-11-2009, 10:29 PM
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If you don't wear them often or have dozens of shirts (or more ) they may not get through rotation for a while. This could mean they're looking crushed and droopy by the time you go to put them on.
Because I don't actually wear nice clothes, just have them, I pay an extra $.65 to get mine boxed. They store very nicely on the shelf above the closet rod, stay fresh and cleanly pressed, and leave that much more room for jackets and suits!

That's when I don't just buy them, cut the tags off and throw them on the pile on the floor. Addiction is a terrible thing.
#28
Old 08-11-2009, 10:38 PM
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Here's another nice tip. Take one shirt and put it in another place. That way, you'll have an extra shirt for that inevitable day when you spill something on a clean shirt.

When I had to wear dress shirts every day, I got them laundered. The price varied between a dollar and 1.50, but it was worth it. No way I'm spending Saturday morning with an iron for 2 hours.
#29
Old 08-11-2009, 10:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mongo Ponton View Post
If you don't wear them often or have dozens of shirts (or more ) they may not get through rotation for a while. This could mean they're looking crushed and droopy by the time you go to put them on.
Because I don't actually wear nice clothes, just have them, I pay an extra $.65 to get mine boxed. They store very nicely on the shelf above the closet rod, stay fresh and cleanly pressed, and leave that much more room for jackets and suits!
Don't they end up having creases from being folded and boxed? I've seen some guys with those creases in their shirts, and it always looked to me like they just put on a dress shirt that they bought at some department store, straight out of the cellophane packaging.
#30
Old 08-11-2009, 11:21 PM
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Great info, thanks everyone!
#31
Old 08-12-2009, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SurrenderDorothy View Post
Do they do things that have to be hand-washed? And if it says "line dry" on the tag, will it come back all stiff and icky like it does when I line dry things at home or will it be nice and soft?
If something can be both dry cleaned and hand washed, they will dry clean it. AFAIK they will not hand wash for you. This works fine except for those pale fabrics that tend to get discolored from repeated dry cleaning or things that are washable fabric but handwashed due to very delicate construction, like some beading or lace.

I'm not sure what they do for things that can't handle a dryer. Plus, I think drying from the dry-cleaning chemicals is different from drying water-washed clothes. But after they press it (and in many cases steam it), it will not be stiff like stuff line-dried at home.
#32
Old 08-12-2009, 10:54 AM
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I've been disappointed when silk shirts come back with the original soft shine gone as a result of the dry cleaning. Machine washing and then is a little better for retaining the original texture. Hand washing is...not really an option.

That's why it's all cotton, all the time.
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