Short Answer: Dry cleaning costs vary depending on the garment or item you need to have cleaned, the overhead costs at the dry cleaning space, and any additional services you need on top of a standard cleaning. For a simple shirt or pair of pants, you’ll likely pay less than $10 per item. Things like comforters and draperies will cost around $20 to $40, and more specialized items like wedding dresses can cost up to $500 or more. Below, we list average dry cleaning prices for common items, as well as the major factors that affect dry cleaning costs.
How Much Does Dry Cleaning Cost?
Although it can be expensive for some items, dry cleaning is a way to keep your items in great shape so they will last as long as possible, reducing the number of replacements you’ll need to buy.
Dry cleaning businesses take a number of operating costs into consideration when determining their prices. The type of solvents and chemicals used, the overhead costs of operating the dry cleaning space, employee costs, the costs associated with purchasing and maintaining the dry cleaning equipment, and local taxes and fees required to dispose of solvents are all considered. Local taxes and fees vary by municipality, city, and state. Some states have local laws that require dry cleaners to use only eco-friendly solvents and adopt ‘green’ practices, which can also increase operating costs.
Some dry cleaners offer express services that guarantee service within a few hours or the same day. You can expect to pay two to three times as much as the standard rate for express dry cleaning services. Some dry cleaners also offer premium-level services, which include a multi-stage cleaning process with hand finishing of the garment, minor repairs, and additional insurance coverage. These services are pricey, but you may want to consider this option when you are taking in more expensive items, such as a tuxedo, wedding dress, or designer home goods for dry cleaning.
Average Dry Cleaning Prices by Item
Since every dry cleaner charges different prices, it can be difficult to budget for dry cleaning services. We’ve compiled average dry cleaning prices from dry cleaners across the country, including cleaners in New York, California, Minnesota, South Carolina, and Florida. We calculated prices using the largest garment or item in a category — for example, a king-size comforter and a three-piece suit.
Keep in mind these numbers are used to determine the average starting prices. Your final price may vary significantly depending on the type of garment and any premium services or upgrades you choose, such as hand finishing or repair. Some dry cleaners set prices with a flat fee per pound, regardless of the type of garment. Below, we explain how much you can expect to pay to get the following items dry cleaned:
- Average cost: About $3.75, without hand-pressing
- Cost factors: The cost can increase by a few dollars if you choose to have the shirt hand-pressed after cleaning. If you need minor repairs, such as sewing on a button or stitching up a small hole, the dry cleaner will charge an extra fee.
- Average cost: About $7.45
- Cost factors: The type of material can affect the cost of dry cleaning a pair of paints; for example, leather pants will cost more to clean than linen pants.
- Average cost: About $10 to $18
- Cost factors: The type of material and dress length are the two major factors that affect the price of dry cleaning a dress; for example, a formal silk or chiffon gown will cost more to dry clean than a casual linen dress.
- Average cost: About $15.15
- Cost factors: The type of material can affect the cost of dry cleaning a suit; for example, a wool suit will cost more to dry clean than a polyester suit.
- Average cost: About $13 to $25
- Cost factors: The cost to dry clean a coat will largely depend on the type of coat; for example, a leather coat will cost more to dry clean than a wool coat.
Note: While most coat dry cleaning prices will fall within the range above, notable exceptions are luxury down jackets from brands like Canada Goose and Moncler. Depending on the length and whether or not the coat has a fur hood, dry cleaning one of these coats can cost anywhere from $80 to $100.
- Average cost: About $250 to $500 or more
- Cost factors: Many dry cleaners do not offer in-house wedding dress cleaning services because the fabric is so delicate. They may refer you to another vendor that specializes in cleaning and preserving wedding dresses. These companies usually offer complete package services that include cleaning, preservation, home delivery of your dress, and minor alterations or repairs. Still, most dry cleaners will accept orders to dry clean a gown or other special occasion dress.
- Average cost: About $30 to $40
- Cost factors: The cost to dry clean a comforter can vary by the material; for example, a cotton comforter will cost less to clean than a down comforter.
- Average cost: About $17 per panel
- Cost factors: Dry cleaning prices for draperies are often calculated by the foot. However, the material may also play a part in the overall price. For example, silk draperies will cost more to dry clean than linen ones.
The Dry Cleaning Process
Unlike regular garment cleaning that involves using soap, chemicals, and water to remove stains and freshen up clothing, dry cleaning is a cleaning process that only uses a chemical solvent without water to clean garments and household items. Solvents like benzene, camphene, gasoline, and kerosene may be used in a dry cleaning machine to circulate the solvent into the machine as the garments are rotated on a cylinder or large wheel. (Note: Some dry cleaners have made the switch to more eco-friendly chemicals and solvents, which will cost slightly more than traditional chemicals.)
The solvent is then extracted from the garments, and the garments are transferred to a separate dryer or dried in the dry cleaning machine. The warm air during the drying process vaporizes any solvent left in the material, and the solvent is then purified through a heating process before being pumped back into a holding tank.
Generally, items that need to be dry cleaned are ones made of a material that can be damaged by the water or heat from traditional washers and dryers. Dry cleaning can also remove stains better than traditional washing. You can find out more about the dry cleaning process, as well as what items should be dry cleaned, on the Drycleaning and Laundry Institute International website.
The cost of dry cleaning is dependent upon a variety of factors, including an item’s size and material, the specific services you need, as well as things like overhead costs and employee compensation. In general, single clothing items should cost under $20 (and some will be under $10), coats can cost anywhere from $13 to $100 depending on the type, draperies and comforters will cost around $20 to $40, and wedding dresses can cost as much as $500 or more. Costs will increase with additional services and the use of eco-friendly chemicals.