How To Start A Dry Cleaning Business from Scratch – 6 Steps

Do you know why Mr. Potato’s dry cleaning service ran out of business? Well, he always used too much starch. 

That was on a light note, but in all seriousness, starting a dry cleaning business is a feasible option. Crayon-streaked school shirts, coffee-stained blouses, and grass-stained khakis all need a little TLC now and then. If you’re detail-oriented with a nose for business, starting your dry cleaning service might be the perfect entrepreneurial endeavor.

However, before you get the bubbles going in that dry cleaning machine, let’s look at some essential facets of starting your own business. 

Let’s get scrubbing.

Create Business Plan:
The initial and most crucial step to starting any business is to write a business plan. Focus on devising a clear and concise plan before venturing into the business.

Below are some key pointers to pay attention to:

Who is Your Target Audience?
You’ll need to conduct a market search to determine who will use your dry cleaning services. Businesses or individuals? What age group? What’s your targeted income bracket? These details will help you plan your marketing and pricing strategy.

What Services Will You Offer?
Dry cleaning is a broad term that can encompass different services. Will you offer laundry service, shoe repair, or alterations? It’s essential to be specific about your services so potential customers know what to expect.

How Will You Communicate with Vendors and Customers?
A seamless flow of communication is essential to any business. You’ll need constant contact with vendors, suppliers, and customers. Technology has made this more accessible with various dry cleaning software and apps that help track logistics, manage inventory, and process payments.

What’s the Pricing Structure?
Pricing is a delicate subject. You don’t want to run at a loss by charging too little, but you also don’t want to charge too much and drive customers away. Research the ongoing rate for dry cleaning services in your area and price accordingly.

How Will You Manage Your Finances?
Your business plan must include a financial projection for the first few years. It will help you stay on track and make sound financial decisions as your business grows.

By answering these questions, you’ll be able to establish a foundation for your business plan. Remember that your business plan should always evolve as your business grows and changes.

Find Location for Dry Cleaning Business:

Finding the right location for your dry cleaning business is one of the essential steps. You will need to find a large enough space to accommodate your needs. It should also have good visibility and must easily be accessible by customers. Consider additional elements such as overhead, opposition, and foot traffic. The best way to find a suitable location is to research and visit the potential sites in person. 

Once you have listed a few places that meet your criteria, it’s time to use your best negotiation skills and haggle for the best possible price. Remember, not every day is a red-wine-and-chocolate-stain day, so choose a location with low rent.

Getting all the Equipment:

You weren’t planning on hand-washing all those clothes, were you? To get started, you’ll need some essential dry cleaning equipment. Depending on your budget, you can buy or lease new equipment. Analyze your business needs and then decide what’s best for you. Once you’re ready, it’s time to start shopping.

Begin by listing all the required equipment and their corresponding prices. It’ll help you stay organized and on budget.

  • Dry cleaning machine 
  • Spotting Board 
  • Sorting table 
  • Pressing machines 
  • Washer and dryer 
  • Ironing board and iron 
  • Garment racks 
  • Hangers 
  • Drying tumblers 
  • Steam boiler 

And the cleaners, of course. Invest in a good-quality dry cleaning solvent. It should be non-flammable, have a low odor, and be gentle on clothes. You don’t want to deal with the wrath of a dry-cleaning customer with ruined clothes.

Select Your Business Structure:

Let’s get some serious issues out of the way. Starting a business is not all fun and games. You’ll need to finalize a business structure and get all the necessary licenses and permits to operate legally. You can obtain these essential documents online, in person, or by mail. You will also require a federal tax ID number from the IRS if you plan on hiring employees. 

The most common business structures for dry cleaning businesses are sole proprietorships, partnerships, LLCs, and corporations. 

Consult a lawyer to help you decide which business structure suits you. 

Choose Your Business Name:

“We Mean Clean” or “Dirty Deeds”? The name you pick for your business is critical. It should be unique, easy to remember, and reflect the image you want to portray. 

Your business name is the first impression you make on potential customers. It should be catchy but not too cutesy. And most importantly, it should be available as a domain name and social media handle.

Search for your business name on GoDaddy or a similar website to check availability.

Shopify’s Business Name Generator can also give you some creative options. Remember, your business name will stay with you for a long time, so choose wisely.

Market Your Dry Cleaning Business:

Here’s the fun part. How are you planning to get the word out there? Would you like to take the old-fashioned route and hand out flyers? Or are you planning to go all out with a digital marketing campaign? The latter, we hope.

Digital marketing is the most efficient and cost-effective way to reach your target market. You can use various platforms for marketing your business, including social media, Google AdWords, and email marketing.

Create a business profile on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. If you’re on a strict budget, initially, even a simple Facebook page will do. Just make sure to post regularly and interact with your followers.

Another cost-effective way to market your business is through email marketing. You can use a tool like MailChimp to create beautiful email newsletters, which you can send to your subscribers. Your creativity will sell your business better than any dry cleaning ad.


The dry cleaning industry is a lucrative business with immense potential. It’s a great way to be your boss and control the motor of your success. But as with any business, it takes hard work, dedication, and the right marketing strategy to expand it.

Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. It takes time to build a successful dry cleaning business from scratch. The right attitude and clean clothes will get you there eventually.


Alex is a small business blogger with a focus on entrepreneurship and growth. With over 5 years of experience covering the startup and small business landscape, Alex has a reputation for being a knowledgeable, approachable and entrepreneurial-minded blogger. He has a keen understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing small business owners, and is able to provide actionable advice and strategies for success. Alex has interviewed successful entrepreneurs, and covered major small business events such as the Small Business Expo and the Inc. 500|5000 conference. He is also a successful entrepreneur himself, having started and grown several small businesses in different industries.