Standards at dry cleaners 'alarmingly poor'Less than one in ten passed Which? test

20 March 2008

A stain on a piece of clothing

This was the worst example of cleaning we found, with a clearly visible stain

A Which? undercover probe has found that standards at many dry cleaners are alarmingly poor.

When we sent 48 identical skirts to dry cleaners across the UK, less than one in ten returned the clothes in an acceptable state.

Our researchers stained each skirt with red wine, double cream and vinaigrette, which experts say are easily removable.

They were then sent to branches of the three main dry-cleaning chains - Johnsons Cleaners, Morrisons and Persil Services – as well as 18 independent shops.

Shrunk 

But just four out of 48 skirts came back in an acceptable condition.

Thirty-one cleaners failed to clean off all the stains, while one skirt was returned showing more stains than it started with.

One skirt came back showing more stains than it started with

Nine cleaners that did remove the stains shrank or stretched the garments, four failed to press the skirts to an acceptable standard and another shop shrank the waistband by almost 3.5cm.

Customer service was also often poor.

Just ten of the 31 shops that failed to remove the stains owned up when returning the garment, and none mentioned other problems that had occurred.

Spot checks

The four to pass the test were two independent dry cleaners and two branches of Persil Service.

Johnsons Cleaners, Morrisons and Persil Service said they were disappointed with the results and asked for further details.

Each said they successfully clean millions of clothes each year.

Johnsons promised immediate and corrective action once it had more details, while Morrisons and Persil said they would investigate further once they had more details.

Shoddy results

The Textile Services Association (TSA) has also pledged to carry out anonymous spot checks.

Which? will be watching to see whether this drives up standards. Our advice is to check whether the dry cleaner you visit belongs to the TSA.

Which? Editor Neil Fowler said: ‘It’s not cheap to get clothes dry cleaned, yet we got shoddy results from the vast majority of the cleaners we tested.

‘Most didn't even own up when they'd failed to properly clean the clothes we'd taken for cleaning - they just kept quiet and charged us anyway. The industry has vowed to clean up its act after seeing our report – and so it should.’