Puget Sound Consumers’ Checkbook offers ways to get the most for your dry-cleaning dollars, and the most from your favorite clothes.
The victims: Your prize J. Crew cashmere sweater, taken out in the prime of its life by red wine. Your husband’s best suit, an innocent bystander felled by oyster sauce. And, of course, your silk blouse that needs emergency attention every time you wear it out and order pasta.
You look and feel great wearing your favorite clothes, but spills, stains and just plain stinky-ness can keep you from rocking them. You need a dry cleaner you can trust — a star with stain solutions, a pro at pressing, and a wiz with whitening agents.
Nonprofit consumer group Puget Sound Consumers’ Checkbook’s ratings of nearly 200 area dry cleaners for quality and price can help you identify shops that will do great jobs cleaning your wardrobe — without cleaning out your wallet. For the next month, Checkbook is offering free access to its ratings of area dry cleaners to Seattle Times readers via this link: Checkbook.org/SeattleTimes/Drycleaners.
In its surveys of area consumers, many of the dry cleaners Checkbook evaluated were rated “superior” overall by 90 percent or more of their surveyed customers. On the other hand, some shops received such favorable ratings from fewer than 60 percent of their surveyed customers.
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You can make your own quality checks when trying out dry-cleaning shops:
When you drop off garments, do clerks thoroughly inquire about stains and note information you provide?
Do staffers provide coherent answers to your questions about whether a difficult stain will come out?
Do the garments look and smell clean? Were they pressed properly?
Does the dry cleaner have an efficient system for finding your garments when you pick up?
Although you want good work, you don’t want to get taken to the cleaners financially by your dry-cleaning shop. Checkbook’s evaluations of local shops also include its rating for price, which was calculated based on prices quoted to its undercover shoppers who checked costs at each shop to clean 12 items.
Checkbook’s shoppers found huge shop-to-shop price variation. For example:
• To dry-clean a women’s cashmere overcoat, prices ranged from $3.85 to $40.
• To dry-clean a men’s two-piece wool suit, the range was from $6.98 to $29.90.