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Dry cleaner

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Dry cleaners use chemicals and solvents to clean clothes and other items that can't be washed in the normal way.

Salary, a pound sign Salary: £14,000 to £17,500 average per year
Hours, a clock face Hours: 35 to 40 per week

1. Entry requirements

There are no set requirements, employers will often be more interested in your personal qualities like reliability, timekeeping and customer care. Retail sales experience can also be useful.

You could get into this job through an apprenticeship.

2. Skills required

You'll need:

  • a good eye for detail
  • the ability to record items accurately
  • customer service skills if working in a shop
  • the ability to operate machinery and follow instructions
  • the ability to handle cash if working in a shop

3. What you'll do

You could work for high street dry-cleaning shops or be employed by large cleaning plants, operating industrial dry-cleaning machinery.

Your day-to-day tasks may include:

  • taking items from customers and giving them a collection ticket
  • checking items for damage and sorting them according to colour and fabric type
  • tagging the articles with bar codes or computer chips for easy identification
  • treating heavy stains before cleaning by 'spotting' with chemicals
  • weighing items and loading them into machines
  • setting machines to the right programme for the fabric and the amount of soiling
  • adding cleaning fluids, often percholorethyne (known as ‘perc’)
  • checking, pressing, folding or hanging the items after cleaning
  • returning cleaned items back to customers and handling payments
  • keeping work areas clean and tidy
  • filling out paperwork

4. Salary

Starter: £14,000

Experienced: £17,500

These figures are a guide.

5. Working hours, patterns and environment

In a high street shop you'll usually work up to 40 hours a week, Monday to Saturday. Part-time work is common. In an industrial cleaning company you may work on a shift system.

You'll come into contact with chemicals and chemical fumes, so this type of work may not be suitable if you have any allergies, breathing problems or skin complaints.

6. Career path and progression

In a dry-cleaning plant you could progress to supervisor or manager.

In a dry cleaning shop, you could be promoted to store manager. If your shop is part of a chain you may be able to progress to running a larger shop, or to area or district management.

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Last updated: 11 September 2018