Lawton_You may have noticed an increase in the cost of dry cleaning lately. Dry cleaner's across the country say that rising costs are to blame, and that increasing costs to operate laundromats are "hanging them out to dry."
Dry cleaner profits are down about 20% because they have seen a price increase on nearly all of their supplies - detergent, plastic wrap, and the energy it costs to run washers and dryers - have increased dramatically.
Laundry mat owner Keith Jackson says the price increase is the biggest he has seen in 30 years. "Small business in the laundry cleaning industry is getting almost cost prohibitive now," he said. There's also a "hang up" on hangers. Jackson says they use about 300 hangers per day, and are asking that you begin to bring your own to help cut costs. "I've been told by our distributor that we can expect a huge price increase of upwards of 90% of cost in the next six months, so we're trying to stock pile a few hangers," he said.
The increase in the cost of hangers is due to a new tariff imposed by the US on all wire hangers imported from China. However, he says the biggest reason for price hikes remains as fuel. "It takes a lot of gasoline to haul these big trucks to bring these supplies to us," he said. "I think that 90% of why costs have increased is the price of gas."
Jackson and his wife Alex say that they'll absorb most cost increases as long as they are able, but they cannot guarantee there won't be another jump in prices. "Our gas bill has tripled in price, and it's been such a hot summer that we try to keep it air-conditioned for our customers," he said. "That's gone up quite a bit."
He says that for the first time in 15 years the laundry mat has had to raise its prices, and they only hope customers like Josie Rose continue coming back. "Well, the price of everything going up. They have to make their money just as everybody else," she said. "So, I mean, it hasn't gone up that much, and you know, gotta do laundry."
Laundry detergents and plastic covers are both bi-products of oil - which accounts for the price increase. But, Jackson says that he hopes that once the price of oil decreases, it will stop "putting a wrinkle" in dry cleaning profits. Energy prices have been so high that even people who own washers and dryers are going to the laundry mat to wash their clothes.