NATIONAL (WIS) - We've got the dirt on dry cleaning. Why are some places so cheap and others are so expensive? Is there really a difference in the end result? In this Buy It & Try It test, WIS' Judi Gatson used several different stains and gave local dry cleaners one day to get them out.
WIS bought four identical men's shirts made by Alfani and two identical ladies shirts made by Liz Claiborne. The tags on both styles recommend dry cleaning.
In WIS' - unscientific - test, we made a mess with identical stains. We stained two of the men's shirts with tomato sauce and we stained the other two men's shirts with wine and we stained the ladies shirts with, you guessed it, make-up.
We took one set of shirts to a premier dry cleaner in town - and we took the other shirts to a discount cleaner. To make sure we didn't get the shirts mixed up, we cut the tags out of the shirts going to the discount store.
The total at the discount store for all three shirts was just $6.33. The total for the same order at the premier cleaner was $20.85.
The tomato sauce stains, the premier cleaner got out completely. The discount cleaner did an acceptable job, but you can see a faint residue from the stain.
Next the wine stains - the premier cleaner was not able to get it out completely - but it's still noticeably better than the discount cleaner.
And what about the makeup? You can still see an outline of the stains cleaned by the premier cleaner, but it's much better than the discount cleaner. Not only is the stain clearly visible, they ripped the shirt.
We invited both dry cleaners to review the results. The discount cleaner refused. The premiere dry cleaners was Tripp's. Tripp Penninger is the owner. "I'm happy to see that there was progress made on all of the garments in comparison."
He says three things account for the difference: the quality of solvents and cleaners used, training in the latest stain removal techniques, and finishing - meaning garments are pressed instead of steamed and bagged.
He also says wine is a very difficult stain to clean, but if given another shot, he's confident they could get it out. "We will clean it again and again and again until you're satisfied. With a one-price cleaner they're going to charge you every single time you go in there."