Clothing is something very near and dear to my heart. My very first job was working in the menswear department of a department store, and one of my favorite jobs of all times was working in a small menswear store selling suits, shirts, and ties. Less exciting was the laundromat/dry cleaning stint I had for awhile. What this left me with though is a good understanding of the care and treatment of clothing.
Regardless of your fashion style or budget, the great equalizer is that sooner or later, most if not all of us will need to take something to the cleaners. Let me share my simple criteria for cleaners as well as my personal experiences with CD One Price Cleaners here in Crystal Lake.
Convenience…Important But Maybe Not Critical
Convenience in this case is a somewhat “relative” term that spans the extremes. For instance, the location in general, being on North West Hwy (Hwy 14), is very good, but the specific building location is far from great. It can be somewhat challenging to get to if you are crossing traffic, and you pretty much have to cross traffic almost any way you take. It is located in a small, tightly confined parking lot, and unfortunately, they don’t offer drive-thru service, which is even more awesome than it sounds if you’ve ever frequented a dry cleaner that offered that.
While the entrance can get packed fairly quickly, especially if you are trying to get in for the same-day drop off by 10am and pick up after 5pm deadline, it is probably above average in size as most cleaners go. I have to admit that I was initially excited on my first visit when they provided a laundry bag. My first thought was that this was to enable faster drop-offs, as in you walk in, drop the bag and go, which can be (or used to be) found at some cleaners. However, this isn’t the case. Instead, the bag is just marketing and the convenience of having a bag to haul your dirty clothes to the cleaner. Still, not a bad thing.
And if they are busy, you can help yourself to a complementary cup of coffee while you wait, assuming it isn’t out of coffee…my experience has been mixed.
One thing to be aware of is that CD One Price Cleaners is a pre-pay service when you drop off your clothes. This may be a bit unexpected if you are used to cleaners where you pay upon pickup. Fortunately, they do accept credit cards now, which is a nice improvement at least. They also feature an ATM in the entrance.
The other key thing to be aware of is that they aren’t your cleaner for everything. In fact, CD One Price Cleaners refers to themselves as “garment specialists,” so you’ll need to look elsewhere for cleaning your drapes, comforters, and other household items. Also, you may find that if you have any special needs garments, those might need to go elsewhere as well, but you can always take them in and let them make that determination.
Another nice convenience feature they added awhile back is the ability to be emailed when your cleaning is ready to be picked up. This is especially nice when your order is ready ahead of the regular 5pm time and you can get in before the rush. Unless they’ve changed it though, you need to request this in store, rather than from their website, and the only option at least at the time was email, not SMS text, which would be even more convenient.
When you drop off or pick up, they ask for your phone number, and confirm the name. For the most part, this is a pretty quick system that avoids having to run through similar sounding names or confirming addresses for the same name.
Personally for me, there are a number of other cleaners that are closer, but of course that isn’t always the most important factor.
Hopefully price isn’t the most important criteria either, but it’s certainly toward the top for most. Fortunately, regardless of where price falls on your list, you probably won’t have much to complain about here. The name “One Price” is a bit of a misnomer, in that there are actually 2 prices: one, $1.49, for laundered items, like men’s dress shirts, and two, $2.79, for dry cleaning. Note that these are “piece prices,” so a men’s two-piece suit would be $5.58 ($2.79 X 2). That aside, that’s still pretty nice, both in the simplicity and in the amounts. I think the laundered price is perhaps a bit higher than average, but the dry cleaning price is much lower than average.
I must confess though that in the past, at least with regard to shirt laundering, “any price” was a little too high to me. I don’t really enjoy it, but cleaning and ironing my own shirts is something I’m quite capable of doing, not to mention that commercial cleaning is typically harsher and shortens the life of shirts compared to home cleaning and ironing. Of course, the reality is that when you take shirts into the cleaners, you aren’t necessarily buying cleaning and pressing services, what you are buying is time.
A few years ago when I was traveling more frequently and cycling through my shirts regularly, that become the deciding factor. I decided that I could spend a few hours every week doing this myself, a chore that I didn’t necessarily hate but wasn’t exactly excited about doing, or I could take a fraction of that time and spend a little money to let someone else do that for me and use the remaining time for the things that I really wanted to do.
I haven’t looked back, nor have I ironed a shirt in a couple years at least.
Quality is King
Ultimately, the most important criteria when it comes to dry cleaners, again for most people, is probably quality. No amount of “cheap” is cheap enough for a “mostly clean” garment, or to get back a “partially damaged” garment. Even if a cleaner replaces a damaged item, it’s rarely a painless process, and of course there isn’t ever a guarantee that an exact replacement can be made.
Unfortunately, this is a game of time. Sooner or later, if you take items into the cleaners with any kind of frequency, something will come back, let’s say, not exactly right. This is true for every cleaner, no matter how careful and cautious they are, if for no other reason that natural degradation of your own clothes or just bad luck.
Knock on wood, so far, I’ve not really had to experience this part of CD One Price’s service. But this also says a lot. Obviously the more frequently you take items in, the more chances for an unfortunate event to happen. While I’m not a high frequency customer, as in weekly or even monthly, I do tend to amass a few shirts and sport coats and take 15-20 items in every couple of months or so. Over the course of three or four years, to go almost without incident is pretty significant. I say “almost” as I do have one shirt that came back, which they pointed out upon pickup, with a tag on it saying that “this is the best that can be done without possible injury to the fabric.” However, I have looked the shirt over 2-3 times, and I have yet to find anything wrong with it.
I haven’t even had a shirt come back with a broken or missing button. Anyone who has shirts commercially cleaned regularly knows how unheard of that is. In fact, I’d say that is probably the most frequent and likely damage that you’ll see as the buttons on shirts, or any garments, take the most beating during the cleaning process.
Clothing can be expensive, especially sport coats, suits, and dresses that require dry cleaning. To help get the longest life out of them, don’t feel that you need to clean them after every wearing. Definitely hang them up to air out a little before tossing them back in the closet, but if they haven’t been stained or exposed directly to heavy perspiration, you should certainly be able to get another wear or two out of them before cleaning.
If you have trouble remembering whether you had a garment cleaned or not since you wore it a couple weeks ago, put a rubber-band around the hanger or hang the hanger backwards after the first wearing so you remember to take it to the cleaners after the next wearing. Or you can simply hang those items up in a separate part of your closet, which also encourages you to wear them sooner so they don’t go too long between cleanings.
However, if you wear them once a year, then it’s probably better to clean them right away than let them sit.
Next time you are looking to head to the cleaners, you might want to give CD One Price Cleaners a chance. As for their odd name, their parent company is called “Cleaners Depot, LLC,” which no doubt is where the “CD” part of the name comes from. I’ve had great success and have been happy with their pricing and service. I’d love to hear about your own experiences with local dry cleaners and be sure to share your own story on the CD One Price Cleaners listing page.