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All dry cleaners are not created equal

By Lashawnda K. Becoats
Special to The Observer

Every month I practice a zany ritual.

While many spend their weekends shopping for groceries or washing their car, I drive my clothes to multiple dry cleaners to be starched, laundered or treated for stains.

I live within one mile of several discount dry cleaners, but I drive my Diane Von Furstenberg wrap dresses to a cleaner’s 30 minutes away.

These dresses cling to my curves like a body glove. I can’t take them to just any dry cleaner. I would be devastated if something happened to those dresses.

All dry cleaners aren’t created equal. And so:

My cotton T-shirts, shorts and denim go to a discount cleaner.

But my delicates go to a specialty dry cleaner that understands how to properly care for my silk dresses and cashmere sweaters. They’re expensive but they understand what it takes to treat the garments and they get it right every time.

You wouldn’t take a Mercedes Benz to Jiffy Lube. Would you?

I wasn’t always so finicky about who cleans my clothes. I learned the hard way that it pays to be picky.

I once loved to wear a beautiful light blue, pink, white and gray button-down. It had little black people on it. It was made in Japan. Notice, I said I used to wear this shirt. Now, it hangs neglected in my closet after it was abused at a discount dry cleaner.

Here’s what happened. I asked the attendant to make sure to clean the shirt, but leave it wrinkled (the shirt was made with permanent wrinkles.) I emphasized: keep it wrinkled. You know what happened when I picked it up?

The shirt was ironed and starched. It could stand up by itself. I was crushed. The owner tried to make it wrinkled again – like that was going to work. The shirt was ruined. I haven’t worn it since.

And then there’s my biggest pet peeve: getting jeans back creased even though I specifically request no crease. No one wears creases in their jeans anymore.

I finally had my dry cleaning epiphany when I took my tweed blazer with suede elbow patches to a discount dry cleaner. The manager politely explained that he would have to charge me $50.00 to send my jacket to another cleaner because his shop didn’t handle delicate items.

Before that, I didn’t realize that my dry cleaner didn’t have the ability to care for delicate items. I didn’t realize that, just like clothes, all dry cleaners are not created equal. I buy pieces everywhere from Target to little boutiques around the world.

Yet, I was taking every garment to the same dry cleaner. Not anymore.

Designer clothes usually have the tag Dry Clean Only, but maybe the tag should read Expensive Dry Cleaners Only.

Lashawnda K. Becoats is a fashion, beauty and lifestyle writer: laconcierge@gmail.com.
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The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.

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