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Dry Cleaning and Laundry Workers

The Job

Dry cleaning and laundry workers' responsibilities vary depending on the type and size of facility that employs them. Duties can range from store clerk to delivery driver to becoming involved in any or all of the dry cleaning and pressing process. Many times in smaller laundries and dry cleaning plants, workers may be required to perform several different tasks. In larger plants, the worker may have the opportunity to become specialized in certain procedures or duties. In some facilities there may be the possibility to supervise or manage the processes, although many industries require a college degree to advance to this level.

Sales route drivers are often employed to pick up and deliver laundry and dry cleaning to homes and businesses. Some people bring their laundry to the dry cleaning facilities. Here, sales clerks take the items from customers, add up the cleaning costs, and fill out cleaning tickets or receipts. Some clerks may use a computer to do these tasks. Clerks also inspect the articles for rips and stains, mark the items to identify the customer to whom they belong, and bundle them for cleaning.

In the cleaning plant, markers put tags on articles so they are not lost. Then they send the items to rooms where they are either dry cleaned or laundered. If the articles are to be dry cleaned, classifiers sort them according to the treatment they need. If the items are to be laundered, sorters may weigh the items and put individual customer's articles into net bags to keep them together.

Laundry and dry cleaning spotters brush stains with chemicals or other cleaners to remove the stains. Plants that clean rugs may employ rug measurers to record the size of the rugs so they can be stretched back to their original size after cleaning.

When articles are ready to be cleaned, laundry laborers and loaders take the laundry to the washing machines. Washing machine operators then wash the articles. When the washing cycle is complete, these operators load the laundry into extractors. Extractors are machines that remove about 50 percent of the water from washed laundry. The damp laundry is then put on a conveyor belt that takes it to dryers, conditioners, and other machines.

Dry cleaners operate the machines that use chemicals to clean the items. Hand dry cleaners clean by hand delicate items that need individual attention.

When items are dry or semi-dry, pressers or finishers operate machines that use heat or steam to press the items. Silk finishers work on delicate items. Flatwork finishers feed linens into automatic pressing machines. Puff ironers press portions of garments that cannot be ironed with a flat press by pulling them over heated metal forms.