Getting Clothes Cleaned Without Cleaning Out Your Wallet

Updated September 2013

It happens almost without fail for every arriving expat:  you go to the cleaners to drop off dress shirts, the only thing on your mind, making sure you know how to ask for them to be finished on hangers or folded, and then it happens:  sticker shock.  For Americans used to paying less than $1.50 to get a dress shirt laundered and ironed, the thought of paying three to four times that amount does not sit well.  The plain truth of the matter is that dry cleaning and laundry services in Paris are expensive.

Take a look for example at these prices at an independent dry cleaner in an upscale neighborhood.  If you do the math quickly, using an exchange rate of 1.5 dollars to the euro, a good rule of thumb if not always completely accurate, you’ll discover that it will cost you about $60 to get a suit cleaned.

So what do you do if you need to get your clothes cleaned and you don’t want to get your wallet cleaned out too?  Here are a couple of tips for those on a budget.

  • Seek out budget chains or hole in the wall proprietors.   5 à Sec (a play on words for the French expression 5 à 7, shorthand for a quickie after work and before going home, if you get my drift), Baechler, and Alaska Pressing (with locations in the 2nd and 16th arrondissement and perhaps elsewhere) offer more reasonable prices than the establishment whose price list appears above. You will still pay between 2.80 and 3.50 euros for laundering a dress shirt.  At 5 à Sec (with multiple Paris outlets), you must buy a card, paying for laundry of 10 shirts in advance, to get the discounted price.   But be cautious; the quality of the dry cleaning and pressing services is variable.  You may find that you have to touch up your clothes afterwards with your own iron.   Think twice about entrusting one of these  places with a special item, like a cocktail dress or silk blouse that you absolutely love.
  • Beware of extra charges.  Some cleaners charge extra for an appret, a special finish that is supposed to maintain the original feel and look of your garment.  I’m not sure I can tell the difference.
  • If you have a femme de menage, she will very likely be prepared to do ironing.  Weigh the hourly rate you pay versus taking your laundry out.
  • Change your dry cleaning habits.  Most wool sweaters can go in a washing machine set on a gentle cycle and dried flat.  Save dry cleaning for silks, cashmeres, suits, and anything that absolutely cannot be laundered at home.
  • Invest in no-wrinkle dress shirts.  No-wrinkle technology has improved dramatically in the past few years; you can find no-wrinkle shirts that look and feel like ordinary Oxford cloth or brushed cotton, for example, from LL Bean if you are still in the U.S.

If you are seeking an eco-friendly dry cleaner, try Sequoia which has locations in the 15th, 16th, and 17th arrondissements.

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9 responses to “Getting Clothes Cleaned Without Cleaning Out Your Wallet

  1. Wow! I am so glad you posted this info. I was getting ready to go out and buy a whole slew of black, dry clean only dress pants to bring with me to Paris. Now I know better. We’re a bit spoiled here in the US with the cheap dry cleaning. Any suggestions where I can find washable office dress black pants? I have plenty of the shirts but no pants…

  2. And the laundromats aren’t any better. The last time I did laundry in Paris, it cost almost $10. Luckily, most apartment come with a washer/dryer.

  3. We’ve been in Paris for a little over a year now and (thankfully to our pocketbooks) have yet to use a dry cleaner. Our washing machine actually has a special wool setting so the speed and temperature are perfect for washing the woolens. I just use Woolite and the wool cycle and my husband’s nice wool work pants come out great. I would never put one of his suits in there for fear of utter disaster but thankfully he only wears those about twice a year!

  4. Ahhh!!! I can’t believe you recommended 5 a 7! Yes they are the cheapest but also the worst. Our clothes came back dirty or ruined too many times so now cough up for the good stuff – Pressing de la Madeleine, rue de l’arcade, 75008. Recommended by Chanel and Hermès. They are an amazing family run place, our stuff comes back flawless. They are also one of the only places in Paris to properly clean a tie. They literally demantle it to be able to clean it without pressing it flat and ruining the silk. It’s expensive but worth it – IIRC, 12 for a tie, 14 for carres, and around 25 for suits.

  5. Ack!! Double Ack!!! €25 for a suit? I need to do a quick wardrobe change, STAT. At that rate, I’d be better off with a washable new wardrobe than 3 months dry cleaning my suits .

  6. lol, at 5 a 7 it’s €15 just for a pressing! At pressing de la madeleine they clean it and press it and redo loose hems, and we know we can count on them. Plus they give us emergency stain advice over the phone, we just called them this morning about a rust stain our iron left. Heart them.
    I just looked at the prices in the photo – wowza, now €40 for a suit is something I might think twice about…

  7. Looks like someone works for pressing de la madeleine!

  8. Pingback: Laundromat Matters | Posted in Paris

  9. Lol, no I don’t work for pressing de la madeleine. In fact a few months ago they accidentally gave out one of my hermes scarves to another client!!!! It took a week or so, but they got it back and even fedexed it overnight to where I was at the time (I was traveling abroad). So they’re not perfect but they do make things right.

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