The perfect alternative for drycleaning

Inquiries about wetcleaning is increasing with the ever-tightening environmental regulations. For those who are content with solvent cleaning tend to be more afraid of wetcleaning. For them, I would like to show the current address of wetcleaning. I have been supplying wetcleaning chemicals and keeping in touch with wetcleaners for many years. To make a long story short, wetcleaning is a perfect alternative for drycleaning even though its acceptance level is not high. It seems like there are quite a few who are aware of its benefits but are afraid to commit. Let’s see together what is causing such hesitancy.


My Personal Experience

For the last 14 years, I have been running a 100% wetcleaning store and been developing and improving chemicals and procedures. I have never sent a piece out and leather and furs are no problem for my store. We have a very high safety record. I can’t remember when I had a shrinkage or bleeding. Of course, problems do occur every now and then but those are usually fixable. I can honestly say I hardly pay any claims. Some might argue that such a stellar record is only possible because I am such an “expert.” But I really don’t do any wetcleaning myself these days. Most works are handled by my staff. Even the new comers can handle the work after 2, 3 days of training. That’s because I have a system in place that can overcome individual ability. Safe chemicals and procedures make it safe for just about anybody. If it is so simple, how come wetcleaning is more popular? As someone who sells wetcleaning chemicals, I have given a lot of thoughts to this question. I can list many reasons but misconception is what I consider to be number one cause. Let’s go over them together.



Wetcleaning has been on a stride for the last 15 years. Interest is high among consumers and regulators alike. It is also true that albeit slow, the number of wetcleaners are increasing. These new wetcleaners, whether voluntary or involuntary, tend to report increasing sales and/or less damage from slow economy. Even during the current pandemic, wetcleaners have suffered less sales loss than drycleaners.

Geographically, the northeast is by far most active and middle America like Illinois and Michigan show a steady growth. Coming in close third is the west like California and Oregon. However, the South and Southcentral like Texas, Georgia, Louisiana and Oklahoma lag well behind. You may call it conservative. The number of wetcleaners in these regions is showing a growth, though.


Technological advances

There is no doubt that wetcleaning technology has grown by the leaps and bounds. And I can say it with confidence that there is no difference in production quality and speed between wet- and drycleaning. The chemicals are so much better now and new inverters and computers can now mimic hand washing. It is the fruit of numerous trials and errors. If you are new to the cleaning industry, I bet it is easier to learn wetcleaning than drycleaning.


What is holding it back?

1.       Misconceptions
The biggest hurdle for wetcleaning is the misconception. Most people equate professional cleaning with solvent cleaning and are not very eager for an alternative. Drycleaners in America are getting old. As they approach the retiring age, the need for a new technology grows weak. That is why it is safe to say the wetcleaning community is led by younger cleaners since they have less stereotypes.


2.       Lack of education
Even though wetcleaning has made quite an advancement, systematic education is still lacking. For example, I receive a lot of calls from California and Oregon but only a few commits because they couldn’t find learning channels.

Wetcleaning theories also tend to accumulate on a personal level. The worst case is when people subscribe to urban legends. Even though sales reps from chemical companies are promoting wetcleaning products, they themselves tend to lack on-hand experience and knowledge.


3.       The existence of quack wetcleaners
If you lack firm knowledge and training, you’re bound to fail as a wetcleaner. And after numerous accidents and problems, you give up. And if you have someone like that in your area, you’ll be discouraged accordingly. These quack wetcleaners will try hard to stop you from even trying. Well, if they had so many problems, you shouldn’t listen to them in the first place.


4.       No desire to learn
Many drycleaners lack not only proper learning opportunities but also desire to learn. My doors are always open to those who want to learn. My lessons are always free and many have come to take advantage. And after a week or so, they all left with new confidence. However, these are more of an exception than norm. First of all, having to take care of their daily business keeps them from taking even a couple of days off. But if you truly strive to become a professional cleaner, it is a small price to pay.


The importance of commitment

If you want to try for the first time, I recommend the following:

First, apply wetcleaning methods to your current laundries. Most cleaners do quite a lot with washers albeit with limitations. Clothes come out stiff, without luster or even lose colors. Fortunately, wetcleaning does not require wetcleaning-specific equipment. As long as you use the proper chemicals and procedures, you will have an excellent result from day one.

Secondly, create a Cleaners Monthly archive. Currently industry magazines are the most available avenue for learning wetcleaning. And collection of articles on wetcleaning will be a handy manual. Most of inquiries come from readers who read a copy of Cleaners Monthly. But when I ask them if they have kept the magazines, the usual answer is no. Fortunately, if you visit, you will be able to read and download old copies.


Picture of Yangsoo Kim

Yangsoo Kim

The author is the developer of Aqua Master wet cleaning chemicals and is currently operating Green Life Cleaners, a 100% wet cleaning service. You can contact him by phone (201) 699-7227 or email at