What they do
Drycleaners use specialised techniques and equipment to clean clothes and other fabric items. They examine articles to be cleaned, looking for stains or any other damage which may need special attention, and sort them into groups depending on the colour and type of material. Drycleaners must pay close attention to the type of material and any manufacturers’ recommended care instructions, which may affect aspects of the cleaning process, including the chemicals used, temperature and duration of the process. Once articles have been cleaned, they can be pressed to give crisp, clear pleats and creases, and steam formed to restore the shape and remove wrinkles.
Drycleaners may work in small shops dealing directly with customers, or they may work in larger industrial facilities, where they collect articles from a number of small agencies, such as newsagents. Some drycleaners may offer pick-up and delivery services, where they collect articles from customers' homes or workplaces. Drycleaning facilities are usually hot and humid, though they are also well-ventilated. Drycleaners come into regular contact with hazardous chemicals, which must be handled with care. The hours of work can vary depending on the type of drycleaning operation, though weekend work is common for most drycleaning businesses. Those working in large industrial facilities may be required to work shifts, which can include working nights.
Tools and technologies
Drycleaners use specially-designed machines to clean garments without causing stress or damage to delicate fabrics. They also use steam presses to smooth wrinkles after the cleaning process. The chemicals used in dry cleaning are specially formulated to remove dirt and grease from a range of fabrics without damaging the fabric itself. When articles are collected they are tagged to identify the owner and highlight any special cleaning instructions. These tags may be simple hand-written notes, or more advanced bar code or computer chip technologies.
How do I become one?
Education and training
It is possible to work as a drycleaner without any formal qualifications and get training on the job.
Entry into this occupation may be improved by undertaking a traineeship in dry cleaning operations (level 2 or level 3). The traineeships usually take 18 to 24 months to complete, and the level 2 traineeship is available as a school-based traineeship.
Apprenticeships and traineeships
As an apprentice or trainee, you enter into a formal training contract with an employer, enabling you to complete training towards a nationally recognised qualification. You spend time working and learning practical skills on the job and you spend some time undertaking structured training with a registered training provider.
You can do an apprenticeship or traineeship if you are a school-leaver, re-entering the workforce or as an adult or mature-aged person wishing to change careers. You can even begin your apprenticeship or traineeship while you're still at school.
If you are still at school you can access an apprenticeship through your school. Talk to your school's VET Co-ordinator to start your training now through VET in Schools. If you are no longer at school you can apply for an apprenticeship or traineeship and get paid while you learn and work.