Please Explain: Dry Cleaning

Friday, June 26, 2009

Today’s Please Explain is all about dry cleaning--how it works, what chemicals are used, and how it is becoming more environmentally friendly. We'll be joined by Wayne Edelman, President and CEO of Meurice Garment Care and past President of the National Cleaners Association. He is also the doctor of "Ask The Clothes Doctor" on And Kim Kostka, Professor and Acting Dean of the Department of Chemistry, University of Wisconsin Rock County.


Wayne Edelman, and Kim Kostka,

Comments [30]

Richard Antony from NY

I wanna know that when one color from a cloth mixed with another cloth, say yellow on white, what should we do at that time?


ptac cleaning

May. 16 2010 04:28 PM
Todd Niemeier from Elgin, IL

Why do my khakis (100% cotton) have a label that says "Dry cleaning not recommended"?

Are there fabrics that dry cleaning damages?

Lately, after a few dry cleanings, I've notice the khakis are staring to loose their shape, becoming baggy.

Jul. 14 2009 03:33 PM
wayne Edelman from NYC

If the cleaner has damaged the garment in processing they should compensate you for your loss. Depending on how old the garment is it is likely that depreciation will be taken in to consideration is settling the claim. If the cleaner is uncooperative i can assist you in having the garment evaluated by the National Cleaners Association. Feel free to email me

Jun. 26 2009 07:51 PM

I would like to know how to handle a situation where the dry cleaner has messed up the fabric on the garment with their dry cleaning process. What are the rights of the customer?

It would be great to have a follow up on this topic!

Jun. 26 2009 02:49 PM
rick snyder from new jersey

This is why I still keep a button for WNYC on my radio. If only they would stay out of biased political reporting and do more of this I'd actually donate something!

Jun. 26 2009 02:16 PM
isabel Asha penzlien from nyc

i have heard that the reason most labels on clothes read "dry-clean only" is because the fabric was not washed before the garments was made.
i carefully hand wash my wool sweaters and other delicate fabrics in cold water.
it is important not to change the temperature rapidly and not agitate it or else the fabric will shrink.

Jun. 26 2009 02:08 PM

Sorry I didn't get to call in.
What's the deal with phosphates? We use a laundry detergent that's imported from Germany. How bad is this environmentally speaking and if so, is there a good domestic replacement? We have a recent model European front load washing machine (and 2 kids).
Thank you!

Jun. 26 2009 02:03 PM
lynnef from westbury, NY

I just got a blouse back from a new cleaner and it had the original stain and a new mark from a ball point pen. I brought it back and they redid it at no came back perfect.
What went wrong the first time and right the second time?

Jun. 26 2009 01:59 PM
Anne from NYC

Hand-washing certain items, like silk blouses, has not worked for me because of *shrinkage*. I made two blouses unusable that way because they shrank too much to fit comfortably.

Jun. 26 2009 01:59 PM
lynnef from Princeton, NJ

I just moved to a new town. I have tried several dry cleaners......what is the best way to choose a dry cleaner?

Jun. 26 2009 01:58 PM
ginny fox from bronx, ny

I would like to know how much dry cleaning establishments are required to conform to safe environmental standards i.e. ventilation. Who /what agency is monitoring the emissions and toxicity, and is every dry cleaner required to have to conforrm to the same standards with random inspections?

Jun. 26 2009 01:57 PM
AFisher from LIC

Bill Murray asked Martin Scorsese on Letterman, "How do you get red sauce out of a white shirt?" Scorsese didn't know, do your guests?

Jun. 26 2009 01:56 PM
Thomas Davis from Glen Cove/Manhattan

One other comment from Greensleeves: Choose wet cleaning if given the opportunity from your cleaner. It uses water under precise conditions for nearly any garment instead of dry cleaning and is good for the clothes as well as not harmful for the environment. If you can't get your cleaner to wet clean, call us, Greensleeves (888) 221-3422
Don't settle for whatever they will give you.

Jun. 26 2009 01:56 PM
RJ from Brooklyn

I have a badly soiled light-colored suede jacket. Does it make sense to try and dye it? Do dry cleaners do that?

Jun. 26 2009 01:56 PM
Betty Anne from UES

I would love to know how to get deodorant stains out of t-shirts.

Jun. 26 2009 01:56 PM

I have a wedding dress with green perm marker maybe dry erase marker. my dry cleaner can't get it out any ideas?

Jun. 26 2009 01:56 PM
Suki from Williamsburg

The best marker pen is actually not a pen - it's the little bottle of oxyclean spray. They took a blueberry stain out of a white linen skirt.

Jun. 26 2009 01:55 PM

Can a stain be removed from something that has already been washed and dried?

Jun. 26 2009 01:54 PM
daisy from brooklyn

I wash almost everything in cold water and a mild soap. Including wool sweaters and pants and everything silk and rayon. Nothing ever shrinks.

COLD water. Not hot. and no dryer.

If I have a bad stain, I use a solvent. At home.

Saves a fortune and I don't participate in the toxic waste that dry cleaning produces.

Jun. 26 2009 01:39 PM
JP from The Garden State

Some have claimed a link to cancer with people living next to or near dry leaning facilities. Since my dry cleaned closes are drenched in solvent and dry cleaning has been around for a very long time, how come we haven’t all come down with some type of cancer after being exposed for decades to these solvents? Also how do you process, contain and dispose of your cleaning solvents?

Jun. 26 2009 01:37 PM
Tom from UWS

Be honest now: dry cleaning repeatedly is HELL on clothes!

Remember to brush and steam in between cleanings if you want your clothes to last.

BTW - white vinegar works as well as white wine to remove red wine stains, and is a lot cheaper!

Jun. 26 2009 01:36 PM
AFisher from LIC

Here is a great youtube video shot on ISS of astronaut demonstrating how soap molecules work to remove dirt:

Jun. 26 2009 01:35 PM
phyllis from nyc

Elaine, chances are, your lovely sweater doesn't need to be dry-cleaned. I'd gladly wash it for you, for less than $7.50!

Jun. 26 2009 01:28 PM
Elaine Petrowski from Ridgewood, NJ

I too am most eager to get more detail and to hear what shade of "green" co2 cleaning really is.
Have I been "taken to the cleaners" on their claims and their prices, at $7.50 for one woman's sweater that I dropped off and will pick up (in my Prius!)
I hand-knit the light-pink sweater for my daughter. After dragging it all over the metro area for months it needed a cleaning. But I hated the idea of putting it into a chemical bath before I give it to her to wrap herself in.
thanks for what I expect will be n illuminating discussion.

Jun. 26 2009 01:16 PM
phyllis from nyc

People should not throw away the hangers. Use them or return them to the cleaner. They do take those (and always happily), but unfortunately they don't take the plastic covers. There may be some sort of law about this.

Jun. 26 2009 01:10 PM
phyllis from nyc

I have hand-washed many things that the labels say "dry clean only" without any problems. It feels eerily like the clothes industry and the dry-cleaning industry are somehow in cahoots.

Jun. 26 2009 12:06 PM
Carolyn from Manhasset, NY

I have been using Greensleeves for 2 years now and I have never been happier. The service and the qualtiy are impeccable. Truthfully, I didn't realize what a big difference it would make. You have to try it yourself to see how beautiful and fresh smelling your clothes come back (and they pick up and deliver at no extra charge)!

Jun. 26 2009 11:53 AM
ted from manhattan

the teaser for the show involved the spilling of red wine on clothes. i learned many years ago that white wine immediately poured on the red wine spot eliminates any red wine traces, even on white clothes. my lesson happened when i spilled a glass of red on a white rug and a guest, a flight attendant, grabbed a bottle of white and a napkin. she poured white on the red spot and spotted with the napkin. spot gone, whew.

Jun. 26 2009 08:55 AM
Sarah Richards from West Point, NY

I look forward to hearing this story today. Recently, my husband and I started using a local cleaner that claims to be green and actually has a delivery service, too. But again, it's virtually impossible to know if everything they're doing is up to snuff environmentally. I completely agree with Mr. Davis in that we need some regulations. As a military spouse, I will also say that cleaners located near military installations get very consistent business, so it would behoove the industry to make sure they are practicing "green" cleaning in a true and honest sense. It will also send a signal to the military that this is an important mission they can support.

Jun. 26 2009 05:44 AM
Thomas C. Davis Jr from Glan Cove, NY

We "Greensleeves" are a green dry cleaner serving NYC area. We are probably the only one that has stayed true to bweing green while nearly all others have resorted to toxic cleaners. My comment is with so many cleaners trying to capitalize on the green popularity by being "the only CO2 cleaner" or by being "Organic" why aren't there some form of auythority to control these false marketing claims. Being green requires a real commitment from the cleaner. Recently, "The Green Cleaners Council" was established but the listings there are a virtual who's who of influential cleaners that are anything but green. The industry needs a real authority, real guidelines. The public can't tell what dry cleaner is safe for them and what ones aren't.
WNYC is always welcome to visit our plant and see what a real "green" cleaner is.
Thank you,
Thomas Davis
(888) 221-3422

Jun. 26 2009 04:58 AM

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