The United States has three basic types of commercial cleaners and laundries.
- Dry cleaners are relatively expensive, specialty establishments that clean individual garments using chemical processes rather than detergent and water. Some offer pickup and delivery services. Dry cleaners carefully package the garments when they return them to their customers, using clothes hangers, cardboard inserts, and plastic coverings. Some offer tailoring and alteration services.
- Commercial laundries do ordinary laundry in washing machines, charging by the pound or by the bag, often including sorting and folding of clothing as part of the fee. Commercial laundries also make extra money by acting as drop off points for dry cleaning, sending the cleaning out to a specialist. Both dry cleaners and laundries offer shirt services: washing, ironing and packaging men’s shirts for a per-shirt charge.
- Self-service laundries offer coin-operated machines that allow customers to wash and dry the clothes themselves. The American term for these establishments is “laundromat,” although any of a number of inventive names involving the word “suds” or “wash” might apply. A full service laundromat has chairs for waiting customers, a machine that dispenses soap, a stack of magazines; some larger ones even have food and beverage concessions. Many apartment buildings and developments have simple appliance-only laundry rooms.
When travelling in the United States, be careful with hotel and motel laundry services. These establishments charge by the piece, and can hence be extremely expensive.
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