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The dirt on dry cleaners

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Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 4, 2011; 11:47 AM

Ask anyone if they have a good dry cleaner, and odds are you'll get one solid recommendation for every 10 horror stories about lost garments, broken buttons and outrageous charges. Tales of misplaced pants aside, there are several options to consider: Do you take a chance on the ultra-cheap operation near your office? Or spend more at an eco-friendly cleaner and avoid some of the harsh chemicals?

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To get the dirt on coming clean, we conducted an experiment: I bought four identical button-front shirts and spilled the same amount of red wine in the same place on each. Then I took three to different dry cleaners - a wallet-friendly same-day-service spot in Silver Spring, an organic cleaner in the District and a long-established chain's location in Arlington. For the fourth, I scoured the Internet for a home remedy and tackled the stain with a cocktail of household products. Read on to see the winners and losers in this quest for clean.


Georgetown Valet

1100 13th St. NW


Cost: $6.41

These days, it can be tough to find a dry cleaner that doesn't have "organic" somewhere on its signage, but not all things organic are created equal. There are no industry regulations on the use of the term, so in some instances, including Georgetown Valet, organic means using a nontoxic hydrocarbon solvent. It's better than the old-fashioned chemicals but not completely natural.

Pros: The customer service here was top-notch. All three employees greeted me and thanked me for coming in, plus they remembered me when I came back for the shirt, which was spotless.

Cons: It's not always easy - or cheap - being green. At just under $7, the dry-cleaning bill was almost a third of the cost of the $24.95 H&M shirt.


Bergmann's Cleaning

2147 Lee Hwy.


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