101 guide to NYC laundry service
December 27, 2013 2:47 PM   Subscribe

I've been dropping off my laundry for the past several years now, but really only know about the drop and fold. My work wardrobe is more business attire these days (male), but can't seem to figure out the terms and services usually available. This may sound a little silly, but I run into language barriers and unclear signs in every laundromat in a 10 block radius. So whats usually available besides the classic wash & fold (and dry cleaning)? -I have button down shirts, what does pressed mean? -Whats the correct term for wash and iron? Sometimes they look puzzled. (sometimes they don't have this service) -If you have your shirts done itemized, the $1.75 each option, what are they doing? -How do most men get there work shirts laundered at these places? Thanks, and note: these laundromat persons around me are all pleasant, and hard workers, but I just can't figure out whats what.
posted by shimmer to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
My husband gets his shirts cleaned at a dry cleaner, and they come back all laundered, pressed, and nice-looking on wire hangers, ready to wear. I don't actually know if he could get the same service at a laundromat, so maybe my answer is not helpful. But if you can't get your dress shirts done the way you want at a laundromat, maybe a dry cleaning establishment would work? (Note: according to my husband, the shirts are laundered, not dry cleaned.)
posted by merejane at 2:53 PM on December 27, 2013

They are laundering and pressing your shirts. Its all the same.
posted by JPD at 3:03 PM on December 27, 2013

Merejane is correct. At least in the west coast states I have lived (and worked) in, the service you want for your buttondown/dress shirts is called laundering. In my experience, this service is only offered at places that also dry clean clothes.
  • Expect to pay between $1.50-$2.50 per shirt.
  • Expect to have your shirts washed in an industrial washing machine and dried in an industrial drier on low/gentle
  • Expect your dried shirt to be steam pressed and hung on a wire hanger
  • Chose no starch, light, medium or heavy. If you don't know, choose light, see how you like it, and go from there
  • You can ask them to fold your shirts instead of hanging them. Some places charge a little bit extra for this service
  • Expect your folded shirts to have creases and wrinkles around the shoulders, and expect to wonder why you chose this option
  • Expect the occasional button to crack during this process. The better places will sew replacements on for you. The best will do it for free
  • Expect your collar stays to disappear with alarming frequency. You can replace them with far superior metal ones online or at any "traditional" men's department (e.g. Men's Wearhouse, Macy's, etc). Just remember to remove them before taking them back the next time
  • If you have been doing your shirts at home up until now, expect this to be the greatest thing since sliced bread.

posted by bluejayway at 3:11 PM on December 27, 2013 [18 favorites]

The term for "ironed" here in NYC is "hand-pressed", and you probably don't want it.

I was getting my work shirts "hand-pressed" for $6 each at my dry cleaner, because they swore that was the only way they could deliver them with cardboard tucked around the collar, which is the only way to avoid the collar rolling over and looking terrible.

Then I tried a new cleaner, a little closer to home even, and they're delighted to insert the collar cards in the steam-pressed shirts for no extra charge over the standard $2.

And I've just discovered that, still for no extra charge, the new cleaner will take my nice wooden hangers with my shirts, and return the shirts on my own hangers. This saves me probably 20 minutes a week, plus a lot of tricky recycling!
posted by nicwolff at 4:18 PM on December 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

I don't think I've ever gone beyond "Could I get light starch on these, please" with button-downs in dry cleaners. bluejayway's list is great. Some places will mark your shirt somewhere: a letter inked on the tag, a stamp on the underside of the placket, something. Not always. You can usually bring the wire hangers back to the cleaners if you want them to handle the recycling.

Beware of mixing in casual clothes with a lot of shirts; I have seen guys do this and be surprised to have their jeans, polos, and even less likely stuff returned starched, pressed, and on wire hangers. Not a wholly objectionable result, but, easier to keep wash-and-fold stuff separated.
posted by kmennie at 4:33 PM on December 27, 2013

Not what you asked but the day I discovered Brooks Brothers no-iron shirts was the last day I brought my husband'ls shirts to the cleaners (laundry). 10 mins in dryer, hang on hanger, done!
posted by Lylo at 5:12 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seconding the Brooks Brothers no-iron shirts and I'd try to hit up the annual shirt sale if your style is included. Be sure to snatch them out of the dryer and hang immediately. Finger press and button the collar and tug the seams while the shirt is still warm. You can probably save enough for two sale-priced BB no-iron shirts per quarter with the money you save by doing them yourself. Work your way up to two or three weeks worth of no-iron shirts (plus a couple you keep on hand new) and then, at least annually, replace the older ones. They last, just not forever, and they surely are nice.
posted by Anitanola at 5:42 PM on December 27, 2013

Ask if you can have your shirts boxed. You'll get them back laundered, pressed, and in a neat cardboard box that keeps them in better shape longer than on a hanger. Great if you need to stash a shirt or two at work.
posted by vrakatar at 8:10 PM on December 27, 2013

Not what you asked but the day I discovered Brooks Brothers no-iron shirts was the last day I brought my husband's shirts to the cleaners (laundry). 10 mins in dryer, hang on hanger, done!
Quoted for great truth. Get them on sale as Anitanola mentions. I wash them in the basement laundry room of my building with everything else and as long as I grab them before they are in the dryer too long, they don't need anything else done to them.

Which is good because I don't own an iron.
posted by Brian Puccio at 9:41 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

To be clear, you can have shirts dry cleaned instead of laundered (at a dry cleaners, naturally). The service is more expensive (more like $5+ per shirt instead of the ~$2/shirt for laundry) and involves all the chemical residues dry cleaning entails. If you bring in a standard cotton men's dress shirt, you're talking about laundering. If you have a silk or even linen shirt, it usually is best to have it dry cleaned instead, as the materials don't do water so well.
posted by zachlipton at 11:07 AM on December 28, 2013

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