Dry cleaning is a $9 billion industry, and while entrepreneurs who want to buy into a franchise opportunity in this industry have fewer options, the top 8 dry cleaning franchises on this list are worthy of closer examination.
Clearly, much of the nation’s dry cleaning needs are being handled by independent operations as opposed to franchised chains, and fewer garments overall require dry cleaning. While many of the older companies on this list are experiencing declines in their number of locations, some of the newer companies are indeed growing, albeit relatively slowly.
Trends in the industry include appealing to younger professionals and offering new ways to make the process more convenient for consumers. Many are making claims about being eco-friendly, although the depth of these commitments varies widely from company to company.
Although the dry cleaning industry as a whole appears to be in decline as increasing numbers of garments can be washed at home, there are still franchise opportunities available for entrepreneurs who choose wisely, especially with some of the newer companies focused on convenience and greener dry cleaning.
Here are our picks for the 8 best dry cleaning franchises of 2018:
1. Martinizing Dry Cleaning
Martinizing Dry Cleaning has the competitive advantage of a long-standing brand name recognized by many. It offers the typical array of dry cleaning and laundry services, but has added in several modern conveniences, including free pick-up and delivery at home or work, and 24/7 locker service for after-hours drop-off and retrieval. Orders can be placed online with an account or using the company’s mobile app. It also uses what it considers the safest, most eco-friendly methods and solvents available. Founded in 1949, the number of locations has been declining during the past 10 years from 580 in 2007 to the current total of 379.
2. Comet Cleaners
Comet Cleaners offers competitive pricing on dry cleaning services due to its development of new technologies and techniques that are more efficient. It also has the advantage of being the largest family-owned dry cleaning chain in the nation with long-standing brand name recognition. It offers both dry cleaning and laundry services that include 24-hour drop-off, in by 9:00 a.m. out by 5:00 p.m. same-day service, and alterations. Some locations have either drive-thru or car-hop service. Founded in 1957, the number of locations has been declining in recent years from 261 in 2010 to the current total of 175, of which eight are located outside the U.S.
Lapels positions itself as an environmentally friendly dry cleaning service that also offers laundry and other services such as rug cleaning, clothing alterations/repairs, shoe repairs, and cleaning of shoes and boots, including UGGs. Conveniences include the company app for scheduling free pick-up and delivery to home or office. It is committed to using eco-friendly methods and solvents. Franchising opportunities include the option to own and run a dry cleaning plant, a boutique retail store with the services rendered off-site at the nearest plant, or both. The number of locations has more than doubled over the last 10 years from 34 in 2007 to the current total of 76, all of which are franchised in the U.S.
4. Tide Dry Cleaners
Tide Dry Cleaners has the distinct competitive advantage of carrying one of the most trusted brand names when it comes to cleaning clothes. Its primary focus is on customer convenience by offering 24-hour service. Drop boxes allow clothes to be dropped off anytime. Customers who can’t pick up during normal hours can have their items put into secure 24-hour-access lockers for after-hours retrieval. Each location also offers either drive-thru valet or curb-side valet services so customers can stay in their cars when dropping off or picking up their items. Some locations offer home or work pick-up and delivery services. Same-day services and alterations are also offered. Its dry cleaning service uses the GreenEarth Cleaning eco-friendly system. Since 2009, the number of locations has grown to 60, of which 12 are company-owned.
5. ZIPS Dry Cleaners
ZIPS Dry Cleaners has established its competitive advantage as a “one price dry cleaner” where each garment is cleaned at the same price (about half the industry average). All services are rendered on-site with an “in by 9 out by 5” timeframe. The company website doesn’t mention anything about other services, meaning dry cleaning is the sum total of what the company performs. Although it does claim to be eco-friendly, the company mentions nothing about its dry cleaning equipment, methods, or solvents, instead focusing on how it recycles hangers, uses 100% biodegradable bags, and conserving on water and energy. Founded in 1996 and franchising since 2006, the number of locations has grown steadily over the last 10 years from 24 in 2007 to the current total of 52, of which two are company-owned.
6. OXXO Care Cleaners
OXXO Care Cleaners offers dry cleaning and laundry services, alterations, shoe repairs, and cleaning of gowns, comforters, rugs, leather and suede, cushions, and stuffed toys. Most locations also offer corporate, hotel, and couture services as well. Conveniences include pick-up and delivery along with a 24/7 system that operates like an ATM machine to drop off and pick up orders using a special OXXO card. The company’s environmental commitment includes the use of GreenEarth Cleaning equipment and solvents. The number of locations has more than doubled over the past 10 years from 20 in 2007 to the current total of 50.
7. Dryclean USA
Dryclean USA offers both dry cleaning and laundering services for the full array of fabrics and items, along with alterations, professional stain removal, and water repellent treatment. Unlike most of the chains on this list, the company makes no claims about being environmentally friendly. Franchising options include both a master license or single plant option. The overall number of locations has declined slightly over the past 10 years from 473 in 2007 to the current total of 428. The loss of units has been among U.S. franchises, which went from 168 in 2007 to the current 42, while the number of locations outside the U.S. has grown over that time from 305 to 386.
8. The Eco Laundry Company
The Eco Laundry Company may have only two locations since being founded in 2012 in New York City, but it’s poised to build on current consumer trends around being eco-friendly without paying a lot more for the services offered. The company’s commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship is backed by its certification as a “B Corporation,” which is the most rigorous label a company can achieve around social and environmental responsibility. The company’s facilities are eco-friendly, its dry cleaning services are 100% organic, and its laundry service uses cold water and low-heat drying to conserve energy. It also offers repair and alteration services.
An Important Note About Our Methodology
The franchises on this list were ranked according to the number of units in the franchise system. If you are a prospective franchisee searching for franchise opportunities that meet or exceed certain performance benchmarks for sales, profits, and return on investment, please check out this list of America’s Most Lucrative Franchises.