How Do Dry Cleaners Starch Pants?

by Andy Pasquesi

The Wash Cycle

First, the pants are either laundered in a water-detergent machine or a perchloroethylene (perc) machine to remove stains, sweat and odors. Perc machines can also have a detergent-type agent added for additional cleaning power. The water-detergent wash cycle lasts about 10 minutes; the perc's requires at least 25.

The Rinse Cycle

Both machines drain the solvent from the wash cycle before adding a fresh volume of clean solvent. After the new solvent has been added, the starch solution is poured into the washing chamber. The amount of starch solution added depends on the owner's request; for example, a "heavy starch" request takes about twice the starch solution as "light starch."

After about 8 to 15 minutes, the machines enter the spin cycle to remove excess solvent from the garments.

The Laundry Press

The final step in starching pants requires the cleaner to load the garment into the laundry press. To fold them, the inner and outer seams of the legs are lined up at the cuff while the pleats fold on either side of the fly. Once in place, the cleaner lays the folded pants along the cushion underneath the press.

To operate the press, he lowers the top down to the cushion and presses the "steam" button to release a burst of live steam directly on top of the pants. After holding the top down for about 5 seconds, he lifts it back up, carefully removes the pants and puts them on a hanger.

About the Author

A Chicago-based copywriter, Andy Pasquesi has extensive experience writing for automotive (BMW, MINI Cooper, Harley-Davidson), financial services (Ivy Funds, William Blair, T. Rowe Price, CME Group), healthcare (Abbott) and consumer goods (Sony, Motorola, Knoll) clients. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Harvard University but does not care for the Oxford comma.