I don’t trust myself to wash some of my more detailed and more expensive pieces of clothing. Certain lolita garments are hand-washable, but I worry about colors bleeding or stains getting set in. Considering that I tend to climb just about anything that might have foot-holds, love dessert–no matter how messy, and can sometimes fall asleep in awkward places, my lolita clothing does not stay neat and pristine forever. To avoid unduly damage, I take my things to the dry cleaners.
However, it’s very important to find a reputable dry cleaner! Not all places use the same cleaning methods, chemicals, or level of care. Having an expensive, beloved jumperskirt meet its demise at the hands of someone who was supposed to clean it is very upsetting.
Right now I rely on Briar Cleaners or K M Cleaners. (K M Cleaners houses the dry-cleaning plant; both locations are owned by the same person.) They’ve been cleaning a fellow lolita’s clothing for years, and take exquisite care of every garment that passes through their hands. I’ve seen them remove old, set-in stains, and I’ve never lost a button, ribbon, or detachable piece. Not to mention that they press everything very well, so I don’t have to re-do it myself once at home. They even do alterations~
The price is higher than some of the other cleaners, but I don’t trust my lolita clothing to anyone else’s hands. They even cleaned my BABY, the Stars Shine Bright bunny pochette~ I kept trying to clean Mallow myself without much in the way of results. When I brought that purse in, they said they’d have to take him over and call me back. That call came only a few hours later, and they confirmed that they could clean him. He hasn’t looked this good since I unwrapped him from the original shipping box!
If you’re going to test out a new dry cleaner, make sure that the first lolita garment isn’t something too detailed. Avoid something with fake pearls, paste jewels, or any other dangling pieces that aren’t removable, as they can be melted or eaten away at due to chemicals or heat. Be upfront with the clerks at the dry cleaner, and ask if they think they can clean it. If your response is frowning and a stress that there is no guarantee, you should consider taking your clothing elsewhere. You may want to take a few detailed pictures of the item as proof of what it looked like before it was taken in for cleaning, just in case anything happens.
Once the item is returned to you, inspect it for any burns, tears, stains, or bleeding before you even leave the shop. If you have a complaint, you want to make it as soon as possible. Then, check to see how well it was cleaned, if there is any residue that you dislike the feel or smell of, and how the lace was ironed. If you’re generally satisfied, the next step is to have them clean something more detailed. Lolita clothing is usually much more expensive to dry clean than non-lolita clothing, so you definitely want to get your money’s worth!
Also, talk to other lolita in your area! Ask where they like to have their things cleaned–maybe there’s an experienced cleaner that you didn’t even know of.