Originally posted – Jul 29, 2013

Lost and found bin clipartI get a lot of lost and unclaimed articles of clothing at my store. I’m not talking about just a sock or two – I mean complete loads of laundry. I make sure it is clean and dry. Then, I fold and bag it, and store it for 60 to 90 days. If no one claims the clothing by then, I donate the garments to charity.

How much of a tax deduction am I entitled to receive for these clothing donations?

I’m not certain you’re entitled to any deduction. After all, the clothes don’t belong to you. To receive a tax deduction on a donation, you must have some investment in the item or items you’re donating.

Also, each state has its own laws and statutes regarding unclaimed garments – dictating how long you are required to hold onto garments that have been left behind in your store and what measures you must take to notify the owners of these items. So, be sure to familiarize yourself with these laws in the state in which you do business.

Of course, for the final word on this, I strongly suggest you consult with your tax attorney or an accountant.


I own a coin laundry in a shopping center, and the store next to mine recently suffered a major fire. Although my laundromat didn’t sustain any direct fire damage, the fire spread to a common attic, and I did suffer major water and smoke damage. Do you know of any way to get rid of the smoke smell in my dryers?

Your best bet is to remove as much of the dryer as possible and wash it down with warm water and an odor-eating product like Febreze. Then, rinse with fresh water. That’s really the only way to eliminate the smoke smell.

It’s very difficult to eliminate the smoke odor completely, because you can’t strip down the entire dryer. However you can get to the basic areas like the drum, the inner drum and near the burner area. That’s probably about the best you can do.

I have been asked to wash towels, dish cloths and oven mitts for a local café. These items have gray stains from the restaurant’s aluminum baking pans. They soak the towels, but the cloths and mitts are badly stained.

What can I use to get this laundry white again? Chlorine bleach will remove some, but not all, of the stains. I have tried pre-treating with a degreaser, but I still can’t get all of the stains out. Do you have any suggestions?

If the stains are caused by the aluminum in the baking pans, your best bet is to pre-soak the dish cloths and oven mitts with hydrogen peroxide, not with chlorine bleach. Use a 1 percent to 2 percent mixture, with warm to hot water.

Let the items soak for about two or three hours. Aluminum is very difficult to remove. And chlorine simply doesn’t have the same effect on metals as hydrogen peroxide. After soaking the items, run them through a typical wash cycle. With this method, your results should be better.

Someone recently mentioned to me that carpet cleaner, diluted with water, can be effective on clothing stains. Is this true?

Yes, that’ll work. In general, the chemistry of a carpet cleaner is similar to that of laundry detergent. Sometimes, it’s just a little heavier- or lighter-duty, depending on the brand and type. Dishwashing detergent works, too. They all fall into the detergent/soap classification.

The main point I want to make is that you need to know on which types of stains all of these different cleaners will work. Carpet cleaners work great on soil-type stains, but are poor oil eliminators. That’s why most professional carpet cleaners buy different spotting chemicals to use in addition to their carpet shampoos. Go ahead and try the carpet cleaner in your laundromat, and let me know what the results are.

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