Evaluating cleaning quality

Drycleaners should be interested in what their customers think of them. Neil Schroeder, National Clothesline columnist wrote an interesting article on obtaining complimentary customer’s testimonials on your business. I frequently receive calls from my clients wanting me to evaluate the quality of their business. In order to evaluate their spotting, I send them a spotting and stain evaluation which goes like this.

  1. They receive a new white garment with several different stains on it.
  2. They must identify each stain and write the procedure for removing it.
  3. They then must remove the stain.
  4. They clean the garment.
  5. They mail it back to me.

I evaluate the stain identification, process for removal and whether the stain is set from incorrect spotting processes used. The concept is that a good spotter removes 95-98% of all stains successfully without damage to the fabric. Whenever stains remain in the fabric it becomes a topic for customer’s complaints. Proper stain removal requires a knowledge of chemicals, procedures, bleaches and fabrics.


There are several things you can do to check the quality of your cleaning system and brightness of a fabric. When marking in work cut a white fabric in half and attach it to the garment to be drycleaned. If the fabric sample, after cleaning is not as bright or white as the original it means that your cleaning system is faulty. This sets up the problem of redeposition of soil which causes a gray and streaky garment. Solvent clarity by looking in sight glass should have an amber color. Milky solvent, in the sight glass means water in the solvent. Check for dye in the solvent which causes the solvent to discolor. Tell your employees when passing by the cleaning machine to always check the sight glass. Another thing to check is high filter pressure which is another indication of poor cleaning.


Make sure your service is up to par. The fastest way to lose a customer is by not having the garment ready on time. This requires cooperation between the counter and cleaning department. Heavily soiled and stained garments require that the customer be told that more time is needed. The best time to check service is at the busy time of the year rather than the slow time.


If your customers complain that the garment does not feel right and is limp the problem is probably due to your cleaning. If you do not have the proper amount of detergent the garment will come out harsh and what they call squeaky clean. Detergents add softness and feel to the garment. Some cleaners use a sizing in their cleaning system which gives the garment additional feel, body and ability to hold the crease and resist wrinkling.


The wetcleaned garment should come out the same way as if you drycleaned it. The garment should show no color loss, stiffening or fading. If you have to dryclean it to restore luster or softness, it was not properly wetcleaned. Properly wetcleaned garments require the right choice of detergent, dye setting agents, finishers and drying. Many cleaners such as First Class Cleaners in Orlando and Bates Troy in Binghamton changed their wetcleaning systems and have been able to achieve this with the recommendations that I gave to them.


The finisher provides the proper look to a garment making it ready for wear. Common problems that customers have are shine, pocket impressions, double creases and puckering. The finisher has the ability to add stiffness and body to a fabric with either starch or sizing. A starch is used on cotton and linen. A sizing agent is used on silk, rayon and even at times wool. Wool should be brushed and pills should be removed.


The packaging sells the garment and your image. There are many packaging aids available that can give you the ability to create a finished product individualized by your company’s image.

Dan Eisen

Dan Eisen

Dan Eisen, former chief garment analyst for the National Cleaners Association, offers lecture, consultation and garment analysis service. He is the author of The Art of Spotting. He can be reached at (772) 340-0909, by email at cleandan@comcast.net or through his website at www.garmentanalysis.com. Dan Eisen, 274 NW Toscane Trail, Port Saint Lucie, FL 34986.

Click the ad to connect