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Why women typically pay more for dry cleaning and other laundry facts

Ways you could be ruining your clothes.

For some, dry cleaning is a weekly ritual.

You drop off a couple of collared shirts, dress pants or blazers and come back a week later to repeat the cycle all over again.

Sometimes the option to dry clean is obvious.

READ MORE: A smart way to reduce drying time and other laundry hacks

Most garments have clear instructions on how to wash them. Some items will clearly have a label that reads, “dry clean only.”

And other times, you’re items may not need dry cleaning at all.

Jonah Creed, owner of Creeds Dry Cleaning in Toronto, tells Global News a dry cleaning company typically both dry cleans and launders. Some clothing items, he adds, like business shirts, down coats and linen sheets don’t get dry cleaned.

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“Dry cleaning is the process that cleans clothes without water,” he explained. “One of the first things the dry cleaner will do is read the garment care instructions.”

He adds there are a variety of reasons why clothing could be marked as “dry clean only.”

Some fabrics can shrink in a household dryer or other fabrics may have dyes that run.

Common questions about dry cleaning

And whether it’s laziness (some people just like to do laundry), being extra cautious (you pay a lot for your clothes) or simply just following instructions, there are many reasons people chose to get their clothes washed professionally.

Dry cleaning can also be pricey, and handwashing, for example, can be an alternative.

Typically, women pay more for dry cleaning the same clothing items as men.

At dry cleaners, you will notice a difference in price when it comes to blouses and a man’s dress shirt, for example.

CBS reported in one dry cleaner in the U.S. women were charged $7.50 for an item, while men were charged only $2.85. Other women spoke about being charged three times more for the same type of garment. Many have called these differences sexist.

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Creed says the prices are different because of the machinery and equipment.

“Shirt presses are designed to fit larger sizes,” he said. “When women’s stuff gets done, it doesn’t fit the machine so we have to do it twice. That’s why we charge more.”

But Creed notes there are still some common misconceptions people have when it comes to dry cleaners.

READ MORE: Your washing machine may be harbouring bacteria — here’s how to clean it

For example, some people still keep their dry cleaned items in the plastic bag it comes with.

“The plastic doesn’t let clothing breathe,” he said. “(Dry cleaning) is done with chemicals.”

Some cleaners, he added, have opted out of plastic altogether to be more eco-friendly.

Then there’s the issue of hidden stains.

Creed says another reason people should consider dry cleaning some of their favourite items (the items they wear the most often) is getting rid of some hard-to-tackle stains.

“The problem with wearing things multiple times and not getting cleaned right away is that those stains that you might not see or might not know are in your clothing like, say, deodorant stains, can oxidize over time,” he explains.

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“And then when you clean it, the stain is actually embedded and then you see it differently.”

Lastly, Creed says people often expect dry cleaners to get every single stain out.

“We get clients saying, ‘why am I paying for this if it’s not clean?’ that’s not how it works,” he said.

“Some things are really hard to get out. Whatever you do, you have to treat the stain properly.”

What needs dry cleaning?

Paul Yoo of Eco Cleaners in Toronto says typically the most common items people bring to the dry cleaner are wool and silk, and if you throw these items into a machine with water, it can further damage them.

Talia Brown Thall, a celebrity stylist and personal shopper based in Toronto, agrees.

“When cashmere pills or a winter coat doesn’t look fresh or a collar is no longer crisp,” she said.

She adds silk and whites, in particular, can be hard to clean on your own.

READ MORE: 18 cleaning hacks to make your life easier

“Unless you’re a wizard, leave the magic to professionals,” she said. “It’s not worth fading your favourite silk or bleaching something that isn’t white.”

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And whatever you do, don’t try to clean the items yourself at home.

“You can make mistakes that are not fixable and wreck your favourite clothing items,” she continued. “Something that can be fixed in a few hours or days can become a larger problem.”

Easy home hacks
Easy home hacks

Real Simple notes clothing with certain detailing may also need a professional. 

“Often care instructions are for the fabric only ― not the accents, which may be tacked on at another factory,” the site noted.

“That’s why you see ‘exclusive of decorative trim’ on some tags. Before you wash anything with beading, sequins, and the like, make sure they are sewn on (you’ll see stitches, not glue) and colourfast (quickly dab a wet cotton swab over each type of accent to see if any dye comes off).”