Dry cleaning sucks. There's no way around it - the process of having anything dry cleaned is time consuming, costly, and outdated.
It all begins with tragedy; the spill of a drink or debris from your lunch adding a splash of unwanted color to your favorite garment. The moments after we recover from the initial shock are filled with feverish blotting and smoothing, desperately trying to save ourselves from the inevitable before we accept our fate. Behind mumbled cursing is the harsh realization. It's time to go to the dry cleaner.
1. Time Consuming
You already have to wash, fold, and iron most of your clothes from the comfort of your home - dry cleaning just adds another step to your traditional garment care. Having to take your items to and from the dry cleaners is not how you want to spend your free time, especially when you're paying for it. While many dry cleaners will offer same-day or pick-up & delivery, it often comes with a much higher price tag - which leads us to another part of dry cleaning that sucks.
Garments that are dry-clean only tend to be our most expensive clothes. Suits, skirts, dresses, and sweaters just to name a few. We spend a lot of money on these clothes and for good reason! They are often required for working professionals and formal events, but they also help us feel more confident (cause damn can we rock this look). That's why these garments must be treated with great care, and so we must pay top dollar. According to Business Insider, the average household will spend $500 a year on dry cleaning! For those who wear dry clean only garments daily, the price gets even higher. Price tags like that drive many people to delay their visits to the dry cleaner until there is a visible spill or stain at the cost of feeling fresh and even smelling good. So instead of putting on a garment that makes us feel like we can conquer the world, we're reminded of yesterday's lunch and that soon enough we must visit the dreaded dry cleaner.
Let's rewind the clock back to 1855, when French dye-maker Jean Baptiste Jolly was using gasoline based solvents to remove soil and dirt from garments. Thus, dry cleaning was born! The next great innovation didn't come until the 1930's when perchloroethylene, or PCE, became the leading solvent. There is just one little problem with PCE - it was the very first chemical to be classified as a carcinogen by the US Consumer Product Safety Commission. PCE remains the most popular solvent used in dry cleaning, but heavy regulation surrounding it due to the toxic nature will likely push it out of the industry in the next ten years.
As we mentioned above, the primary solvent used in most dry cleaning operations has been classified as a carcinogen. There have been countless studies on the links between increased cancer risk and exposure to PCE between government agencies as well as organizations such as the American Cancer Society. While there has been some debate regarding the levels of exposure that prove most dangerous, it is apparent that those who work in the industry or in cases where water is contaminated there can be a number of health complications.
So yeah, dry cleaning sucks! It's an expensive errand that has done little to innovate and improve itself as an industry. They use expensive, toxic chemicals, and not much in the way of customer service. Yet dry cleaners remain in business, knowing that one can only last so long in wrinkled and wary clothes.