The victims: Your prize J. Crew cashmere sweater, taken out in the prime of its life by red wine. Your husband’s best suit, an innocent bystander felled by oyster sauce. And, of course, your silk blouse that needs emergency attention every time you wear it out and order pasta.

You look and feel great wearing your favorite clothes, but spills, stains, and just plain stinky-ness can keep you from rocking them. You need a drycleaner you can trust—a star with stain solutions, a pro at pressing, and a wiz with whitening agents.

Luckily, our ratings turn up many local drycleaners who can tune up your clothes. The really good news? Many top-rated shops also charge low prices, meaning they won’t clean out your wallet while they clean your wardrobe.

Our Ratings Tables show our evaluation of area drycleaning shops. The Ratings Tables report ratings we received from area consumers (primarily Checkbook and Consumer Reports subscribers) when we asked them to rate drycleaners they had recently used as “inferior,” “adequate,” or “superior” for “doing service properly on the first try,” “starting and completing service promptly,” “pleasantness of staff,” and “overall quality.” For shops that received 10 or more ratings, Our Ratings Tables report the percent of surveyed customers who rated each shop “superior” (as opposed to “inferior” or “adequate”) on each question. Our Ratings Tables also report the percent who rated each shop “adequate” or “superior” (as opposed to “inferior”) for “overall quality.” Click here for more information on our customer survey and other research methods.

When trying out drycleaning shops, make your own quality checks:

  • When you drop off garments, do clerks thoroughly inquire about stains and note information you provide?
  • Do staffers provide coherent answers to your questions about whether a difficult stain will come out?
  • Are your clothes ready when promised?
  • Do the garments look and smell clean?
  • Were the clothes pressed properly? One of the most common complaints we receive from drycleaning customers is that shops sloppily press garments, leaving “double creases” and crushing or losing buttons.
  • Does the drycleaner have an efficient system for finding your garments when you pick them up?

Regardless of which drycleaner you choose, your satisfaction will depend in part on you.

  • Before taking your clothes to be cleaned, check them for stains and empty all the pockets.
  • If there are stains, point them out to the clerk and provide as much information about them as you can. The more the spotter knows about what caused a stain, how long it’s been there, and what, if anything, you have used to treat it, the better the chances of removing it. Also indicate any hidden spots—particularly sugary spills (soft drinks, white wine, fruit juice). Pin a tag or have a staffer put tape on each stain to ensure that the spot comes out.
  • When you drop off your clothes, ask about prices, especially for any special treatments that you don’t need or want—and shouldn’t have to pay extra for.
  • When you pick up your cleaned clothes, look them over, checking to see that they are pressed properly and aren’t missing any buttons.