Recently I received a lot of inquiries on wet cleaning. As we all know, EPA has banned the use of perc in a co-located building. This ban led many cleaners to an alternative solvent but even hydrocarbon solvent is not a permanent solution since it is a petroleum product. However, having worked with solvents all their lives, they tend to hesitate when it comes to cleaning with water. Of course, I tell them it will be the best choice of their career.
Wetcleaning is the best solution for solvent cleaning and it is easily done to boot. This month, I would like to tell you the benefits of wet cleaning. These will lead to better business profit and environment.
I think this is the most important benefit. I firmly believe wet cleaning is the best way to increase sales and who wouldn’t want to do that in this economy?
The last ten years were not easy for dry cleaners. The pandemic only made the matters worse and so many stores went out of business. I think dry cleaning is one of the hardest hit businesses during the pandemic. But even during this difficult time, wet cleaners suffer less damage.
Even though the business is not what it used to be, cleaning service will never go away. The current crisis will become an opportunity for those who strive to offer better service to their customers though wet cleaning.
The increased sales come not only from new customers but also higher prices. In my case, I charge prices 25~30% higher than other stores. Customers expect to pay a higher price for organic cleaning or professional wet cleaning. The better cleaning quality also warrants a higher price.
I recently had a chance to give a seminar on wet cleaning at an Earth Day event held at Texas Instrument’s headquarter. The seminar went very well and I even noticed a few of my customers in the audience. I received many questions but the most common one was “is it more expensive than dry cleaning.” I told them I charge up to 30% higher than dry cleaner and most of them found it perfectly agreeable since wet cleaning provides better and healthier cleaning. They all asked me to recommend good wet cleaners in the area but I really didn’t have an answer for them. I don’t think there is a professional wet cleaner in Dallas area. My store is in Frisco and it is not within a comfortable driving range. I thought this is a clean opportunity for a wet cleaner.
Lower operating cost
Wet cleaning cost much less to do than solvent dry cleaning. The report from Occidental College in California also agrees on this conclusion.
To do dry cleaning, the cleaning machine consumes a lot of energy to dry, recover and distill solvent. It costs a lot of money to throw out sludge and spent filters. You have to pay environmental tax, too. Some landlords require an environmental insurance. Wet cleaners don’t have these costs.
The cost of water and chemicals are far cheaper than dry cleaning counterparts. The machine requires far less maintenance as well.
More female customers
Wet cleaners tend to draw more female customers. Once you start wet cleaning, you’ll notice the change too. Visitors to my stores are pleasantly surprised to see so many women garment on the rack. I think women are more sensitive to environment and health than men.
With more female customers, more brightly colored garments come in. Of course, wet cleaning shines in processing white and bright colored clothes.
As long as you wet clean properly, you will have far fewer accidents than dry cleaning. Dye bleeding, shrinkage, fabric and trim damage, and print damage do not happen much in wet cleaning. Wet cleaning uses gentle cycle and less mechanical action. Also, acidic detergent and water medium cause less color and fabric damage.
Less damage means less complaints and less stress at the counter. For your information, I did not pay any money for quality related claims. I did give credits for lost or switch garments but nothing for damaged clothes.
Process almost 100% of garment
Solvent dry cleaning has many limitations when it comes to furs, leather and suede, printed fabrics, dye bleeder like traditional Indian garments and etc. These limitations force you to turn away or send out for these high-priced items. Even sending them out does not guarantee satisfying quality.
Wet cleaners can handle these items without a problem. For the last 15 years, I processed 100% inhouse.
Cleaner working environment
Wet cleaning is not only cleaner for the garment but also for the store. Dry cleaners tend to cover up the working area from the counter to hide dirty equipment and floor. Dry cleaning is a closed-loop process and lint stay inside the store. It is quite normal to see layers of lint on the machine. But in wetcleaning lint go out the drain or stack. So, working area stays clean.
You don’t see much lint on clothes either. Other than dog hair embedded in the clothes, you don’t need lint rollers much. I bought a box of lint rollers almost 10 years ago and I still haven’t used them all.
Healthier working environment
I once had an opportunity to read a report from Department of Labor on life expectancy for different industries. I was very surprised to see dry cleaners has the shortest life. On comparison, pastors lived the longest. I think exposure to various chemicals has something to do with the result. Of course, with departure from perc, our life expectancy must have improved a lot since then. Even employees are well aware of health problems related to solvent cleaning. My pressers tell me they can’t go back to smelling odors coming from dry cleaned garments.
Freedom from regulations
When I was building my current store, city inspector demanded to see MSDS for all the chemicals in the store. I told them I had none. To his puzzled stare, I told him I don’t have a MSDS for H2O. Ever since then, I haven’t received any requirement notice from EPA, DOL, city government, landlord, insurance company or bank. I don’t pay any fees either. As far as the regulatory authorities are concerned, I don’t even exist and I enjoy this complete freedom very much.
Wetcleaning provides you with too many benefits to cover in this article. My ultimate goal is to see our industry to be free of petrochemicals. Wetcleaning technology is mature now and we have quite a few success stories. If you have ever considered wetcleaning, now is the time. A few years down the road, you will agree with me that it was the best decision you’ve ever made.