Laundry and Dry-cleaning Workers

Summary

laundry and dry cleaning workers image
Laundry and dry-cleaning workers clean clothing, linens, drapes, and other articles.
Quick Facts: Laundry and Dry-cleaning Workers
2012 Median Pay $19,930 per year
$9.58 per hour
Entry-Level Education Less than high school
Work Experience in a Related Occupation None
On-the-job Training Short-term on-the-job training
Number of Jobs, 2012 210,700
Job Outlook, 2012-22 10% (As fast as average)
Employment Change, 2012-22 20,500

What Laundry and Dry-cleaning Workers Do

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers clean clothing, linens, drapes, and other articles, using washing, drying, and dry-cleaning machines. They also may clean leather, suede, furs, and rugs.

Work Environment

Most work for laundry and dry-cleaning services, healthcare facilities, or hotels and motels. Most workers are employed full time, but about 1 in 5 worked part time in 2012.

How to Become a Laundry or Dry-cleaning Worker

There are no formal education requirements to become a laundry or dry-cleaning worker. Most workers are trained on the job.

Pay

The median hourly wage for laundry and dry-cleaning workers was $9.58 in May 2012.

Job Outlook

Employment of laundry and dry-cleaning workers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations. However, employment growth may be slowed as consumers purchase clothing and other articles that can be cleaned at home.

Similar Occupations

Compare the job duties, education, job growth, and pay of laundry and dry-cleaning workers with similar occupations.

More Information, Including Links to O*NET

Learn more about laundry and dry-cleaning workers by visiting additional resources, including O*NET, a source on key characteristics of workers and occupations.

What Laundry and Dry-cleaning Workers Do

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers
Laundry and dry-cleaning workers sort and hang clothing and other articles.

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers clean clothing, linens, drapes, and other articles, using washing, drying, and dry-cleaning machines. They also may clean leather, suede, furs, and rugs. Items made of a combination of fabrics frequently need special attention to avoid damaging items during the cleaning process.

Duties

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers typically do the following:

  • Receive items from customers and mark them with codes or names
  • Inspect articles for stains and fabrics that require special care
  • Sort articles to be cleaned by fabric type, color, and cleaning technique
  • Load clothing into laundry and dry-cleaning machines
  • Add detergent, bleach, and other chemicals to laundry and dry-cleaning machines
  • Remove, sort, and hang clothing and other articles after they are removed from the machines
  • Clean and maintain laundry and dry-cleaning machines

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers ensure proper cleaning of clothing, linens, and other articles. They adjust machine settings for a given fabric or article, as determined by the cleaning instructions on each item of clothing. Workers add the proper type and amount of cleaning detergent or liquid solvents to washing machines, which agitate clothes similar to washing machines in most homes.

When necessary, workers treat spots and stains on articles before washing or dry-cleaning. They monitor machines during the cleaning process and ensure that items are not lost or placed with items of another customer.

Often laundry and dry-cleaning workers interact with customers. They take the receipts, find the customer's clothing, take payment, make change, and do the cash register work that retail sales people do.

Some dry-cleaners offer alteration services. Often, sewers and tailors do these tasks, but some laundry and dry-cleaning workers do them as well.

Work Environment

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers
Laundry and dry-cleaning workers spend many hours standing.

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers held about 210,700 jobs in 2012.

The industries that employed the most laundry and dry-cleaning workers in 2012 were as follows:

Drycleaning and laundry services50%
Nursing care facilities (skilled nursing facilities)14
Traveler accommodation13
General medical and surgical hospitals; private4
Administrative and support services3

Laundry and dry-cleaning machines can make the work environment warm and noisy. Workers may also be exposed to harsh chemicals, although newer environmentally friendly and less-toxic cleaning synthetic solvents and detergents are improving their work environment.

In addition, laundry and dry-cleaning workers spend many hours standing.

Work Schedules

Most workers are employed full time. However, about 1 in 5 worked part time in 2012. Workers may need to begin work early in the day to have customers’ cleaning done on time.

How to Become a Laundry or Dry-cleaning Worker

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers
Laundry and dry-cleaning workers inspect articles for stains and fabrics that require special care.

There are no formal education requirements to become a laundry or dry-cleaning worker. Most workers are trained on the job.

Education

There are no formal education requirements. Most laundry and dry-cleaning workers have a high school diploma or less. Some take classes on how to operate dry-cleaning machines or how to remove certain stains such as from inks or grease from clothing, but most employers do not require this.

Training

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers generally receive short-term on-the-job training. This training includes proper cleaning techniques, how to clean different fabrics, and how to treat stains.

Important Qualities

Customer-service skills. Laundry and dry-cleaning workers interact with customers who drop off and pick up their clothes. Workers may need to respond to customers who are unsatisfied with the quality of the cleaning.

Detail oriented. Many fabrics are delicate and require special care in cleaning. In addition to looking for spots and stains, laundry and dry-cleaning workers must pay attention to the type of fabric to ensure that the item is cleaned properly.

Stamina. Laundry and dry-cleaning workers often spend many hours standing in a warm environment.

Pay

Laundry and Dry-cleaning Workers

Median hourly wages, May 2012

Total, all occupations

$16.71

Production occupations

$14.87

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers

$9.58

 

The median hourly wage for laundry and dry-cleaning workers was $9.58 in May 2012. The median wage is the wage at which half the workers in an occupation earned more than that amount and half earned less. The lowest 10 percent earned less than $7.95, and the top 10 percent earned more than $14.25.

Most workers are employed full time. However, about 1 in 5 worked part time in 2012. Workers may need to begin work early in the day to have customers’ cleaning done on time.

Job Outlook

Laundry and Dry-cleaning Workers

Percent change in employment, projected 2012-22

Total, all occupations

11%

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers

10%

Production occupations

1%

 

Employment of laundry and dry-cleaning workers is projected to grow 10 percent from 2012 to 2022, about as fast as the average for all occupations.

A growing population will continue to demand laundry and dry-cleaning services, particularly the dry-cleaning of professional attire and work uniforms and apparel.

However, employment growth may be slowed as consumers purchase clothing and other articles that can be cleaned at home. Concern over the effects of liquid solvents such as “perchloroethylene” on the environment and people’s health, will continue the trend towards the use of environmentally friendly and less-toxic cleaning synthetic solvents and detergents.

Job Prospects

Job prospects are expected to be good. Because this occupation requires limited formal education and has low pay, many workers transfer to other occupations or leave the labor force because of family responsibilities, to return to school, or for other reasons.

Employment projections data for Laundry and Dry-cleaning Workers, 2012-22
Occupational Title SOC Code Employment, 2012 Projected Employment, 2022 Change, 2012-22 Employment by Industry
Percent Numeric

SOURCE: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Employment Projections program

Laundry and dry-cleaning workers

51-6011 210,700 231,200 10 20,500 [XLS]

Similar Occupations

This table shows a list of occupations with job duties that are similar to those of laundry and dry-cleaning workers.

Occupation Job Duties ENTRY-LEVEL EDUCATION 2012 MEDIAN PAY
Fashion designers

Fashion Designers

Fashion designers create original clothing, accessories, and footwear. They sketch designs, select fabrics and patterns, and give instructions on how to make the products they designed.

Bachelor’s degree $62,860
Suggested citation:

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition, Laundry and Dry-cleaning Workers,
on the Internet at http://www.bls.gov/ooh/production/laundry-and-dry-cleaning-workers.htm (visited July 28, 2014).

Publish Date: Wednesday, January 8, 2014