The world's a dirty place. Wine spills and sauce splashes are inevitable. And the buildup from sweat, cologne and everyday grime can stain and discolor a garment. Which is why we clean them. But when a toss in the washer isn't an option, a good dry cleaner is in order. Haven't got one? Don't trust yours? Ask an established tailor or a respected retailer in the neighborhood to pass along the name of theirs.
Remember to empty pants pockets and remove your shirts' collar stays. And pay attention to the way your cleaner inspects your clothes at the counter. Are they looking for stains and tagging them accordingly? They should be.
In fact, your clothes still get tossed into a machine and saturated. But instead of getting submerged in soapy water, the clothes (about 30 to 80 pounds worth) get put into a dry cleaning machine's perforated stainless-steel drum where they're washed with a solvent known as "perc" (perchloroethylene).
A typical wash lasts about ten to fifteen minutes. After the wash, the tank is drained of the dirty solvent and a rinse of pure solvent enters the chamber to flush out all the grease, grime and other stain-causing junk that soils clothes. This step is quickly followed by the extraction process (a spin drying cycle) which recovers approximately 99.99% of the solvent used. The dried clothes are then aired out and are ready to be pressed and packaged.
Steaming out any wrinkles yourself (either with a small travel steamer or the reliable standby of hanging your garment in the bathroom during a long shower).
Airing out your suit overnight before stashing it back in its bag (to avoid trapping any residual moisture or telltale smells).
Attempting to spot clean a small stain yourself. A little mud on the ankle or a splash of sauce at dinner doesn't always warrant a full cleaning. Here's how to do it.
Indentations. The garment was likely pressed carelessly, leaving imprints around collars, pockets or buttons.
Puckering. If a garment is cleaned or dried at the wrong temperature it can warp the threads.
Glossy fabric. Pressing the fabric too hard can crush the fibers making a garment look shiny (and cheap).
London Bright Cleaners is a respectable shop known for a quick turnaround. They also offer free pick-up and delivery. Prices start at $2.75 for a laundered and pressed shirt and $7.50 for dry cleaned and pressed pants.
12 E 33rd St. New York, NY 10016; 212.889.8895
Lapels Dry Cleaning is an environmentally-friendly shop offering a range of services, including alterations and delivery. Prices start at $1.95 for a laundered and pressed shirt and $5.95 for dry cleaned and pressed pants.
152 Brookline Ave. Boston, MA 02215; 617.262.8808
Le Valet Cleaners is known not just for fair prices but for the fact they use organic solvent to clean clothes instead of traditional chemicals. Prices start at $1.75 for a laundered and pressed shirt and $4.95 for dry cleaned and pressed pants.
2311 M St. NW Washington, DC 20037; 202.466.7122
Opening early and closing late, Fame Cleaners is a favorite of the working crowd. Prices start at $1.55 for a laundered and pressed shirt and $4.50 for dry cleaned and pressed pants.
1850 W Division St. Chicago, IL 60622; 773.276.5756
Sig Samuels Dry Cleaning Co. is an old school operation that's anything but old fashioned. They offer next day service (and same day is often available for emergency situations). Prices start at $1.50 for a laundered and pressed shirt and $4.50 for dry cleaned and pressed pants.
906 Monroe Dr. NE Atlanta, GA 30308; 404.872.2233
Sudsies Dry Cleaners provides online account management for customers along with free home delivery and pickup. Prices start at $2.97 for a laundered and pressed shirt and $7.77 for dry cleaned and pressed pants.
6786 Collins Ave. Miami Beach, FL 33141; 305.864.3279
Bibbentuckers offers free home delivery and a late night drop-off box. Prices start at $2.59 for a laundered and pressed shirt and $6.99 for dry cleaned and pressed pants. Plus, new customers get 50% off the first order.
3501 McKinney Ave. Dallas, TX 75204; 214.219.5400
Village Cleaners is a popular spot for locals, and not just because they provide free parking for customers. Prices start at $3.50 for a laundered and pressed shirt and $5.25 for dry cleaned and pressed pants.
8265 Santa Monica Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90046; 323.654.6811
Martini Cleaners is an old school, no-frills shop known for a quick turnaround and fair prices on both clothes and home goods like comforters. Prices start at $1.75 for a laundered and pressed shirt and $4.75 for dry cleaned and pressed pants.
345 Divisadero St. San Francisco, CA 94117; 415.252.0809
Next day service is not guaranteed, but is usually the norm at Glo Cleaners. Prices start at $2.45 for a laundered and pressed shirt and $6.95 for dry cleaned and pressed pants.
7857 Lake City Way NE Seattle, WA 98115; 206.522.1144
For hundreds of dry cleaner recommendations, check out the Valet. app.