What does it involve?
A dry-cleaner is not just a person who feeds a dry-cleaning machine then presses and packs the cleaned garment. There's more to it than just machine feeding and a little light pressing work.
Before cleaning, garments are inspected and classified and the length of the cleaning cycle is dependant upon the type of article cleaned and the degree of soiling. Some heavily stained garments may go through a stain removal process prior to cleaning to aid in better soil and stain removal – to work this process you'll have to be qualified as a stain removal technician.
As with all high-street based businesses the hours are what you want them to be. However if you're not open early and open until late and open on Saturdays then you're unlikely to do well. People expect to drop off their clothes in the morning and pick them up after work. They also expect to be able to drop off on a Saturday and pick up on a Saturday.
Dry cleaning is also one of those industries where traditionally you pay after the work is done, and that can either be the next day, next week or when the user remembers to come and pick up the garments. It's wise to instil some sort of cut-off point at which you can sell the items that are there over a certain time period - between 60-90 days is normal.
Dry cleaning Machines
There are various makes/models of dry-cleaning machines. But despite the differences, all dry-cleaning machines work on the same principle.
A dry-cleaning machine consists of four basic components: a base tank, pump, filter and a cylinder. The holding tank holds the dry-cleaning solvent. A pump is used to circulate the solvent through the machine during the cleaning process. Filters are used to trap solid impurities. A cylinder or wheel is where the garments are placed to be cleaned. The cylinder has ribs to help lift and drop the garments.
The operation of the dry-cleaning machine is easy to understand. The solvent is drawn from the tank by the pump. The pump sends the solvent through the filters to trap any impurities. The filtered solvent then enters the cylinder to flush soil from the clothes. The solvent leaves the cylinder button trap and goes back to the holding tank. This process is repeated throughout the entire cleaning cycle, ensuring that the solvent is maintained to give effective cleaning at all stages of the cycle.
After the cleaning process is complete, the solvent is drained and an *extract* cycle is run to remove the excess solvent from the clothes. This solvent is drained back to the bare tank. During extraction, the rotation of the cylinder increases in order to use centrifugal force to remove the solvent from the clothes
Once the clothes have finished extracting, the cylinder stops. At this time, clothes are either transferred to a separate dryer or, on most machines, dried in the same unit, a closed system. The drying process uses warm air circulated through the cylinder to vaporise the solvent left on the clothes.
Dry cleaning machines are rated in pounds of fabric (dry weight) the machine can hold. Machine sizes vary from very small (20 pounds) to large (100 pounds) capacities.
A dry-cleaning machine life is expressed in years, from the time of purchase to the time of replacement. Typically, heavy duty machines have a life cycle of 20 years, but the service life is closer to 15 years. For most machines, the life cycle is 10 years with a service life of seven years. So before you buy establish how old the machines are, what their service life is, check any maintenance records and look at the price of renewals, repairs and regular services.