When buying clothes, I check labels, and most of my clothing is machine or hand washable. Some fabrics, flax and silk come to mind, are lovely and I want to have some of these items in my closet.
I use an eco-friendly dry cleaner near my house (= expensive real estate). The cost to dry clean 1 pair of pants, 2 short-sleeve shirts, and 1 sweater is $26.50. Really? The total is more than the pants cost brand new on sale at Banana Republic (I do not wash after every wear, but I spilled a piece of s’mores nacho on the pants … and to be honest a little tequila also; they needed to be cleaned).
First of all, why do some clothes need to be dry cleaned? Basically, some fabrics do not play well with water and/or soap. Instead of using water, a dry cleaner uses another solvent. It may be a liquid, so the dry cleaning is not actually “dry,” but it is called “dry” because water is not used.
As annoying as it is to shell out cash for dry cleaning, the owners/employees are not making out like bandits. In most areas, there are several dry cleaners competing for business. Rates must be competitive. Across the industry, the average revenue per employee is $60,000, significantly less than for The Gap (which owns Banana Republic), which has average revenue per employee of over $100,000. Hourly employees in laundry and dry cleaning earn on average $9.41/hour, which is more than minimum wage but not enough to support a family.
The best option for lowering the dry cleaning bill is to wear clothes that can be washed at home.
NPR gives a warning: ” If you think your dry cleaning bills are high now, hang on.” Metal hangers cost more, driving up prices of dry cleaning.