Originally posted – Nov 30, 2012

We are trying to set our wash-dry-fold pricing and have noticed a big difference in how large items are priced. In our area, drycleaners and laundromats with wash-dry-fold services charge a per item fee for comforters, bedspreads, blankets and other large items – which is significantly higher than if they charged by the pound.

These larger items are easier to wash and dry, yet cleaners and laundromats charge a lot more to wash them. Are there additional reasons for this higher pricing besides “that’s what the market will bear?”

I can see why you think there might be a discrepancy in the pricing, but let’s look at these items more closely.

First of all, certain items like comforters, bedspreads and blankets, carry a higher value when the customer buys them. After all, many of them are made of expensive nylon and other costly materials. Therefore, there is more of a liability if you were to damage them.

Secondly, many of these items are bulky. For example, one pound of feathers could probably fill a 50-pound-capacity washing machine, even though it’s only one pound of feathers. It’s the same principle with comforters – a comforter might only weigh five pounds, but you’ll probably have to use a 30- to 50-pound machine to wash it.

Next, look at your drying time. The bulkier and fluffier the items, the more time it will take to dry them.

Lastly, the packaging requirements on these larger items are a little different, too. After all, you have to use hangers, plastics and special bags to hold them.

These are a few of the reasons for the higher prices.

I am having trouble with very heavily soiled perspiration stains. I have tried ammonia and vinegar, but with little success. Do you have any ideas?

First of all, perspiration stains, if they are set in for a long period of time and in a consistent manner, are very difficult – and sometimes they cannot be removed at all. The acid and oil in perspiration can actually discolor the molecules in the fabric.

Your best bet is to purchase a gallon of spray spotter for drycleaners. Most laundry suppliers carry this product, which features the necessary chemicals to disburse most perspiration stains.

Typically, spray the spotter directly on the stain, and then run the garment through a normal wash cycle. If you are using bleach as well, use non-chlorine bleach.

We do anywhere from 500 to 900 pounds of wash-dry-fold per night. That’s about 30 to 40 bags.

There are times when customers complain that we lost an article or two of clothing. We have no way of proving that it was in the bag in the first place, so we end up paying for the “lost”articles.

How can we protect ourselves in the future? What about marking each piece of major clothing, like pants, shirts and so on? Is there a way to do this “marking”economically and where it wouldn’t come off in the washing process?

There are various marking and tagging systems available. You can check with your local laundry supplier about them.

However, most of these systems are relatively expensive, and they require a lot of time. Each item that comes in has to be marked with a certain number, and you have to check to make sure those numbers match up after the washing process.

Therefore, I wouldn’t even bother with such a system. Instead, count the pieces when the laundry comes in. Put them in a bag and have an employee sign off on the number of pieces in each bag.

After the laundry is done, check those bags again and count the pieces. Require an attendant to sign off on that count.

Lastly, count the items a third time before it is bagged for delivery. Again, require an attendant signature verifying the count. All three counts for each bag should be the same.

If you bought a marking system, you would be doing basically the same thing anyway – somebody still would have to go through the numbers and the pieces.

Save yourself some money and just count the pieces. It’s labor-intensive, but it should solve your problem.

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