What to do if your cleaners says "that can't be cleaned"!

Like many of you, I watched the Oscars recently. I love looking at the gowns! But not for the usual fashion do's and don'ts. I check them out and try and figure out if they can be cleaned, how they can be cleaned, and how much it would cost to clean them (yes, I am that dull!). Last year, People magazine had an article that had three popular stars in gowns, with the drycleaning bill next to it. Cleaning prices ranged from $400 to a little more than $1000!

I heard several comments that the high cleaning price are because of the status of the star or the designer. I'm here to tell you -- the price of a garment has no bearing on its ability to be cleaned.

What these stars wear are really pieces of art! The artist gives ZERO thought to how it would be cleaned or maintained. They only care about how it fits, falls, reflects the light and looks on that one special day! Garments may have metallic components, bias cuts, very delicate weaves, embellishments and a host of things that just won't survive "drycleaning".

I recently had the privilege to clean a beautiful and unique Justin Avery wedding gown. It was a very delicate silk chiffon, with ribbons of silk that had unfinished edges. The gown had been custom made and then sent to an artist for hand painting.

This gown was a piece of art (I wish my photo did it justice).
This gown is not drycleanable. The artist did not give a thought to the fact that no cleaning machine can tell the difference between that paint and dirt!

And I'm glad he didn't - great art is shouldn't be practical.

I will guess that less than 5% of cleaners could clean this type of gown successfully. Most would (I hope) refuse to clean it - the others wouldn't clean it well - or worse case, ruin it!

Here are 3 pieces of must have advice:
  1. Get recommendations
  2. Talk to people who have used the service you are considering and
  3. Tell the drycleaner what kind of risk you are willing or not willing to take.
Remember, once something is cleaned it cannot be uncleaned!

So the next time you are wanting to have something cleaned and are told that it can't be done, realize that you need to find a drycleaner who is also an artist, and be willing to pay a fair price for the time and expertise. So how do these 5% of cleaners do it? Hard work, a lot of time (15 hours in this case), constant training and a lot of experience. Im not saying that the gown was the same as new, but it was back 95% of new. Thank goodness the bride didn't spill red wine!


AskAdrycleaner.com said...

I respectfully disagree, almost anything can be cleaned. Dis-assembly then re-assembly may be required in order to do cleaning, or hours of hand work may be required

The Ablitt's said...

Thanks for the comment! I agree with you - I just don't think it is true for all, or even many cleaners.