Q. How should I decide which dry cleaner to use?

Professional dry cleaners are responsible individuals who care about their customer, the environment, and their employees.

Look for a cleaner who is part of professional associations.

Associations provide relevant information to their members about fashions and fabrics, the latest in equipment, laws and regulations pertaining to the garment care industry. Organizations like the Ontario Fabricare Association and the Drycleaners & Launderers Institute send out newsletters and trade magazines filled with important information to keep a good cleaner abreast of industry developments.

Look for a Certified Environmental cleaner.

Environmental rules and regulations are a prime concern to every professional dry cleaner. If a cleaner displays an OFA decal on the door or window, you know he/she is a Certified Environmental Cleaner.

Attention to detail is important.

Does the Dry Cleaner remove the stain without damaging the garment? Does he give an explanation if the stain is not removed? If you request special treatment (extra starch, etc.) are your wishes carried out? Professionals know you are the reason they are in business, and treat you accordingly.

Don't be dismayed by a request for a release form to be signed.

Care labels are sewn in garments by the manufacturer to provide information about fabric content and a suitable method for cleaning the garment. There are occasions when a cleaner will ask a customer to sign a release form. This may be due to a missing care label, or trim that is not covered by the information on the care label. The request reflects the care the cleaner is taking with your garment -- they've read the label, know what they're doing, but can't control situations that might arise from manufactured difficulties.

Look for a cleaner who is consistently doing a good job.

Garments are inspected before they are returned to the customers. There should be no damage to garments by stapling tags through fabric or labels. To prevent wrinkling, the correct number of garments and their accessories are placed in the same poly bag.

A good cleaner is a careful cleaner.

When no care label exists to determine a suitable cleaning method, a good cleaner will test the fabric on an unexposed seam or area of the item . The cleaner classifies every load by colour and material (a raincoat and a silk blouse would not be cleaned together). Sometimes this means you can't get a garment back in a couple of hours. But it does mean he/she is taking good care of it.

Cheaper isn't always better.

The biggest danger to clothes is a cleaner who tries to cut costs by cutting corners. Quality cleaners add soap and sizing to their solvent to enhance cleaning and give the clothes additional body. Be realistic in what you expect to be done for the price you are paying.

Customer service is important.

A professional dry cleaner will not make promises he/she cannot keep. If a problem does occur, they will work with you to find an equitable solution. Most dry cleaners will use an industry standard method such as the Dry Cleaners & Launderers Institute fair claims guide.