The dry-cleaning industry has been hit hard over the years, what with our tendency to want to buy only machine-washable items combined with stricter environmental laws. Dry-cleaners have spent thousands of dollars deferring to these rulings by doing such things as installing containment tanks so no leaks of chemicals would ever get into our sewer systems and doubly treating water for the same reason – and the costs don’t end there.
Now, so as to avoid excess waste of polyethylene consumption of dry-cleaning bags, new bagging machines with robotic arms and a magic eye have been designed which are able to size up a garment and cut the bag off 2″ below the garment.
These businesses are lucky that they can recoup their costs more easily here in Canada; since we have such sloppy winters, we desperately need our dry-cleaners. Their busiest season starts now, as we switch over to Spring mode and start bringing in bundles of winter coats, heavy blankets, bedspreads, throw pillows, duvets, feather pillows and draperies.
I was surprised to learn that suede and leather coats are now washed rather than dry-cleaned. Since hides are tanned these days with water-proof dyes, this method is less harsh on the skins, and the jackets come out less stiff.
Dry cleaners offer all sorts of services that you might not know about. The two high-end ones below, Miss Brown and Bellingham Cleaners and Tailors, can both take an old feather pillow and refresh it. The pillow is emptied, sanitized and deodorized and the ticking is replaced with a new one. A good dry-cleaning can also help remove dust mites from area rugs.
Perhaps you didn’t realize that dry-cleaning removes the water repellence of raincoats. You can have them re-coated, though. The coats are placed in a spray booth and get a water repellant shower. If you didn’t know how to properly stash away your wedding gown, these cleaners can do an expert cleaning job and then pack the gown in an acid-free box for storage.
But I can ‘t leave you without offering up a dry-cleaning bargain: check out the bulk cleaning at Western Cleaners below.
Western Cleaners, 4460 Ste-Catherine St. West at Metcalfe St., Westmount. Phone: 514-935-2000. Hours: Monday to Friday 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Even with a 10 lb. minimum for clothes, the bulk dry cleaning done here at $1.89 per lb. is a great deal. Sweaters are the most popular, but blankets, coats and even suits can be cleaned this way. They have been open since 1927, with only a second owner since then – one of the workers who had taken over. Knitters like to bring their sweaters here to be blocked, or to get holes repaired or sleeves shortened. Another inexpensive service for suits is the while-you-wait “spot, sponge and press”, where you can quickly have a stain removed, have it refreshed and get it back in under ten minutes.
Bellingham Cleaners and Tailors 2655 Bates Rd. at Wilderton Ave. Phone: 514-733-4444. Hours: Monday to Wednesday 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., Thursday and Friday 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Since 1940, they’ve been well-known for their cleaning, especially of the more challenging suedes, leathers, wedding gowns, silk clothes, feather pillows and duvets. Their Deluxe Service handles delicate garments individually by hand. For garment repairs (even suede and leather), every day there are seamstresses and a changing room, so quick fixes can be managed while you wait. This location has Quebec’s first drive-thru service and a 24-hour night deposit box using VIP bags. You may want to be one of the first to experience their new shirt pressing machine that will reduce 75% of the manual touch-ups, giving shirts a crisp finished look. Home or office pick-up service is available all over the island. Other location: 1 Westmount Square (514-934-3353).
Miss Brown, 4930 Sherbrooke St. West at Claremont Ave., Westmount. Phone: 514-489-7669. Hours: Monday to Friday 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Since 1928, this family business has been one of “the” places to have delicate garments, suede and leather goods cleaned. For your home send over feather duvets, verticals, blinds, carpets, upholstery and draperies. Wedding gowns can be boxed for storage, and feather pillows can be refreshed. If you have a fire or flood, they can do restoration work, and if you are so unlucky – they can even get skunk odors out of your house. Other locations: Lachine, 67 Provost St. (514-637-6741); 950 St. Jean Blvd. (514-697-0297).