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Career Profile: Laundry and Dry-Cleaning Workers

Operate or tend washing or dry-cleaning machines to wash or dry-clean industrial or household articles, such as cloth garments, suede, leather, furs, blankets, draperies, linens, rugs, and carpets. Includes spotters and dyers of these articles.

Salary and Outlook

According to the US Department of Labor, there are 175,500 people employed as laundry and dry-cleaning workers in the United States. The median annual salary is $25,500. Entry level employees earn approximately $19,130 per year and senior employees earn approximately $35,310 per year.

Estimates do not include other potential benefits such as health insurance, overtime pay, or retirement benefits that may be offered by employers.

Job Duties

  • Load articles into washers or dry-cleaning machines, or direct other workers to perform loading.
  • Start washers, dry cleaners, driers, or extractors, and turn valves or levers to regulate machine processes and the volume of soap, detergent, water, bleach, starch, and other additives.
  • Operate extractors and driers, or direct their operation.
  • Remove items from washers or dry-cleaning machines, or direct other workers to do so.
  • Sort and count articles removed from dryers, and fold, wrap, or hang them.
  • Clean machine filters, and lubricate equipment.
  • Examine and sort into lots articles to be cleaned, according to color, fabric, dirt content, and cleaning technique required.
  • Receive and mark articles for laundry or dry cleaning with identifying code numbers or names, using hand or machine markers.
  • Apply bleaching powders to spots and spray them with steam to remove stains from fabrics that do not respond to other cleaning solvents.
  • Determine spotting procedures and proper solvents, based on fabric and stain types.
  • Test fabrics in inconspicuous places to determine whether solvents will damage dyes or fabrics.
  • Rinse articles in water and acetic acid solutions to remove excess dye and to fix colors.
  • Identify articles' fabrics and original dyes by sight and touch, or by testing samples with fire or chemical reagents.
  • Start pumps to operate distilling systems that drain and reclaim dry cleaning solvents.
  • Immerse articles in bleaching baths to strip colors.
  • Spread soiled articles on work tables, and position stained portions over vacuum heads or on marble slabs.
  • Mend and sew articles, using hand stitching, adhesive patches, or sewing machines.
  • Dye articles to change or restore their colors, using knowledge of textile compositions and the properties and effects of bleaches and dyes.
  • Wash, dry-clean, or glaze delicate articles or fur garment linings by hand, using mild detergents or dry cleaning solutions.
  • Spray steam, water, or air over spots to flush out chemicals, dry material, raise naps, or brighten colors.
  • Pre-soak, sterilize, scrub, spot-clean, and dry contaminated or stained articles, using neutralizer solutions and portable machines.
  • Mix bleaching agents with hot water in vats, and soak material until it is bleached.
  • Apply chemicals to neutralize the effects of solvents.
  • Mix and add detergents, dyes, bleaches, starches, and other solutions and chemicals to clean, color, dry, or stiffen articles.
  • Sprinkle chemical solvents over stains, and pat areas with brushes or sponges to remove stains.
  • Match sample colors, applying knowledge of bleaching agent and dye properties, and types, construction, conditions, and colors of articles.
  • Inspect soiled articles to determine sources of stains, to locate color imperfections, and to identify items requiring special treatment.
  • Operate dry-cleaning machines to clean soiled articles.
  • Operate machines that comb, dry and polish furs, clean, sterilize and fluff feathers and blankets, or roll and package towels.
  • Iron or press articles, fabrics, and furs, using hand irons or pressing machines.
  • Hang curtains, drapes, blankets, pants, and other garments on stretch frames to dry.
  • Clean fabrics, using vacuums or air hoses.

Career List

Job Outlook


Total Current Jobs:
175,500
Annual Openings:
26,600
Increase in Openings by 2030:
12%
Annual Salary Range:
$19,130 - $35,310
Education Requirements:
Some high school