I Heart My Dry Cleaner – But I’m Not Getting (my) Down (jackets cleaned) with Her

I do really like my dry cleaner up at Harvard Market in Seattle. Why do I feel this way? Well, previously when we used the now closed Three Bears (or something bearish) Cleaner in Beacon Hill. You would take your items in and be greeted by an assortment of dusty tchotchkies, apparently there to entertain whilst you wait for 5 minutes for someone to appear from the depths. After going through the paperwork, it would be announced that you can come back in SEVEN days to pick your stuff up. Seriously, that is ridiculous and probably the number 2 reason they closed. Number one is that their business intention wasn’t clear when you walked in (tchotchkies or dry cleaning…) Without a clear identity it is hard to make it in the entrepreneurial world. We now frequent a much more organized and focused cleaner, with the added perk of dolling out life advice along with hard candy and smelling of fresh baked bread, oddly enough. Turnaround time – no more than 3 days ever. All that said, I am not going to pay $20 -$30 to clean a jacket, when I KNOW I can do it myself at home for a fraction of the price.

How to clean down items (jackets etc) at home:

What do you need:

  • Dirty down stuff
  • Front Loading washer (or one without the middle spindle)
  • Dryer
  • 3 Tennis balls or a couple clean tennis shoes
  • Woolite or special down detergent
  • Time
  • Laundry spot treatment (like Resolve or Shout)

The situation:

I had two jackets, one vest and two pillows all in need of some cleaning. I also only had two tennis balls (the dog got one) so I added one clean shoe to the mix. Jackets didn’t have specific stains, just dirty for a winter’s wear and mine likes to get makeup etc on the front part of the color where it touches my face. The sleeve cuffs were dirty too. The pillows, like all pillows I think (you just won’t admit it), had some interesting drool marks from continued use and probably our dear Boston Terrier (RIP). I don’t think this is dirty or gross, so no judging, it just is what it is and I am going to clean it.

What to do:

  1. Clean out the pockets of money, paperclips, gum wrappers and then turn inside out to get all the crumbs out
  2. Pre-treat if you choose.

3. If there are any holes etc you might want to think about fixing it before washing. Not required

4. Stuff it all in your washer. I think in this case the more in there they better for washing. Besides it will all mash down once wet

5. Wash in the delicate cycle with Woollite and an added rinse. It is going to take this a while and it won’t seem to spin out a lot of water. No worries

6. Put it all in the dryer. Turn to delicates or easy care, low heat, pop in tennis balls and shoes and turn it on.

7. Drying is going to take a long time. I can’t imagine how many quarters this would take at a Laundromat.

8. I also had to restart the dryer a few times as the sensor tried to tell me they were dry prematurely

9. As the dry goes round and round the balls and shoes make quite a racket but are really keep to fluffing your stuff back up to normal loft. I would suggest NOT doing this when you or someone else is trying to nap.

So, what great advice has our dry cleaning lady dolled out? Some of the usual, along a noticeable theme, given she is someone’s Asian mom.

” You too skinny!” “When you going to have the baby? You are getting old.” “You should eat more. Have another candy.” “You will have good looking baby.” “You husband is nice looking.”

But the best was delivered a month or two ago, and much more specific. “You need to have a baby this year and another right away. Two babies is the right number. Don’t wait too long to have the babies. I did and now all my friends kids in college and mine still living at home…..” This lecturer went on for a few minutes until she felt she had made the case for us to have two children ASAP given that apparently we are already behind schedule, despite my best attempts to convince her I am still young (enough). I really do like our dry cleaner but haven’t been back since (no need) and now am worried that I will disappoint her. Doubly-so when she finds out I cleaned my down successfully at home and am spreading the good word to others. Ooops!

What are you favorite dry cleaner stories or Asian Mother Advice?


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