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Why the Price Difference in Dry Cleaners?

Exploring Cost and Price

An article by Steve Grace, Professional Dry Cleaner and President of Fairmount Cleaners Incorporated.

Several factors go into determining what a dry cleaner charges, the most prevalent being the expectations an operator places on the production staff.

Selling Labor

Dry cleaners primarily sell labor. It is the single highest expense in any dry cleaning business. The higher the expectations are in regards to quality and attention to detail, the less number of pieces a crew can produce in a set time. There are expenses such as rent or mortgage that remain fixed, and others such as utilities and supplies which are directly related to use, but labor is the most closely related to the product.

Measuring Labor Costs

A common measure of labor is called 'pieces per operator hour'. Attention to detail will lower the pieces an operator can produce. If the expectation of the crew is high quality, lower pieces per hour is necessary, and the price per garment would need to be greater. In like manner, if the quality expectation is lower, the price could be lower. Every dry cleaner balances these factors in an effort to be profitable.

Pitfalls of Budget Dry Cleaning

There is a growing gap being seen in the type of service offered as our culture changes. As "dress down" or casual wear grows in acceptance in the workplace, our apparel and appearance standards have changed. Some industry experts see the growth of "discount" or "budget" dry cleaning as indicative of not only how we spend our disposable income, but also what we consider a necessity in regards to appearance.

If an individual is less concerned about a spot or stain, or is less concerned about crisp, sharp pressing, a budget cleaner is an acceptable alternative. The success of a low cost/budget type cleaner is based upon being able to produce large amounts of pieces per hour. The product they produce is neither good nor bad, but strictly subjective. Budget style dry cleaning is a product some consumers find acceptable.

High Quality Dry Cleaner


The high quality cleaner is rediscovering their 'spot' in the marketplace as their segment of consumer spending is steady or growing. There are many consumers who view their garments as investments. They desire attention to detail and appreciate the time, energy and cost associated with using a dry cleaner who attempts to be detail oriented.

These factors include:
  • how the garments are classified and cleaned
  • how much attention is given to spot and stain removal
  • how much effort is invested in restoring a 'like new' appearance in the pressing department
  • and other tangibles such as packaging and shopping experience

Getting What You Pay For

Generally speaking, we get what we pay for and perception of quality is in the eye of the consumer. The only relevant question is, "Have I received a product that justifies its cost?"


At Fairmount Cleaners we strive to be quality oriented. Our piece per operator hour expectation is lower than our contemporaries because our quality expectations are higher. We invest more time and labor in an effort to provide you with an exceptional product.

Give us a try, I think you will see and feel the difference.

Green Dry Cleaning

Fairmount Cleaners is one of the first dry cleaners in the Cleveland area to offer green dry cleaning.

Our environmentally friendly process has been documented by local news stations as a terrific alternative to older, harsher dry cleaning solvents.

Learn More » or Watch the WKYC Interview »

Honesty. Integrity. Quality.

Fairmount Cleaners is family owned and operated for over 90 years.

We put our family name behind everything that we do so that you know that your clothes are in good hands.

Established 1927.

Quality Garment Care

Over 80 years of giving your garments top quality care.

Family owned and operated since 1927.

Give us a call and try us out. You'll be happy you did.

(216) 371-1241