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Getting to know your neighbor: Village Dry Cleaners and Leisure Laundry gets sudsy

TUMBLE DRY — A number of washers and dryers, including industrial-sized, are available for customers’ use, at Leisure Laundry. Photos by Lizz Schumer.
SPRINGVILLE — Formal events present many opportunities for eating, drinking and dancing, often all at the same time. The combination of these factors can often lead to spills, stains, wrinkles and odors. Village Dry Cleaners and Leisure Laundry in Springville can help with all of these, with tips from manager Nancy Alberico.

The laundromat and dry cleaning business has been located at 54 Franklin St. in Springville, for the past 50 years, although it has gone through multiple owners, during that time span.

Alberico said she has seen a decrease in the amount of dry cleaning that comes into the shop, during the more than 20 years she has worked there.

“People try to buy stuff that doesn’t have to be dry cleaned,” she explained. Higher prices and increased awareness of the environmental impact of plastic bags, as well as the chemicals used in dry cleaning, have also had an impact, according to Alberico.

“There was a push to get [the chemicals] off the market, in New York state, for awhile. They never did manage to get it off, and we’re still using it. They decided that the chemicals are not hazardous, but, for awhile, there was a lot of talk about it,” she explained. “Dry cleaning isn’t really dry. It uses chemicals to clean, instead of soap and water.”

Village Dry Cleaners sends its dry cleaning to a plant in Yorkshire, for processing. Customers can drop off clothes at the Springville location and come get them, three days later.

For those customers who forget about their laundry or fail to retrieve it, the business does sell some items, but donates the rest, after it becomes clear that the owner is not coming back, according to Alberico.

“I love working here,” she said. “I get to meet people, talk to them [and] hear their stories. It takes all kinds.”

SIGN ME UP — The laundromat is located on Franklin Street, across from the Village of Springville Municipal Building.
Despite industry fluctuations, Alberico still had some tips for customers who want to get the most out of their clothing, whether they bring it in for dry cleaning or throw it in a washer, themselves.

Fluffy sweaters, made out of materials such as angora, need to be placed in a bag and dry-cleaned, Alberico noted, to prevent fibers from transferring onto other clothes. She also recommended brushing clothes that came into contact with animals, especially cats.

“We brush everything, before it goes to the plant,” she said. “That way, it doesn’t get on the other clothes. You never know, if someone might be allergic to cats. It also makes less of a mess, that way.”

Other materials, such as wool and rayon, must be dry-cleaned, to maintain the integrity of the fabric. In suits, especially mens’, interfacing along the lapels will crinkle, when wet.

“Sometimes, you’ll see a suit come in that got caught in the rain, and it’ll be all rumpled,” Alberico said. “That’s why.”

Rayon and spandex will often retain wrinkles indefinitely, if they are washed in regular machines.

Alberico added that dry cleaning can help maintain colors, especially in natural fabrics, or colors that are prone to fading, like navy blue or black.

“Polyester does not fade, because it’s oil-based,” she said. “And some, like white, will gray, if you use too much soap.”

AT YOUR SERVICE — Manager Nancy Alberico and her team of three staffers are ready to assist customers at Leisure Laundry and Village Dry Cleaners.
Alberico also noted that she has also picked up a few tricks of the trade, during her many years in the business. Among them is proper storage of clothing, which she said many people get wrong.

“Don’t ever store clothes in plastic bags. The plastic traps moisture, and then you’ll get mildew.” She pointed out a prom dress, hanging in plastic at the front of the dry cleaning rail. “This dress needs to be hung out, so the bottom doesn’t crinkle, and it needs to get into a cloth bag with vents, so it doesn’t get ruined.”

The manager also added that damp closets or spaces that are not frequently aired out, such as those in spare rooms, where many people keep their off-season clothing, are susceptible to mold and mildew.

“Make sure your clothing is stored properly,” she said. “The bags you get from the dry cleaner or the store are not meant to be storage bags.”

Another common mistake, according to Alberico, is using too much soap for the type of washing machine.

Front-loading washers, like the type available in Leisure Laundry, use one-third less water than top loaders, which require less soap.

“I see people dump in three, four cups of soap, into the front-loaders,” she said. “That’s too much. You should be using high-energy soap, too.” She advised checking the label on the bottle, to discern the proper solution. In addition, dry detergent should not be used in front loaders, or washers located in homes with septic systems, since it may not dissolve completely.

To keep black fabrics black, Alberico said she turns the clothing inside out and tosses some salt into the load. “I don’t know why the salt keeps the color, but it does,” she added.

During her years in the industry, Alberico has seen her share of stains. For specific soils, Alberico has developed tricks, at home and at work.

“Lemon extract will take out ink, but only if the stain has never touched water,” she noted. “As soon as you use water, you’re done. Water sets stains, so whenever my husband spills on himself, I say ‘Don’t touch it! You’ll make it worse!’”

At Village Dry Cleaners, Alberico and the rest of the staff keep a bottle of peroxide on hand for tough stains, like blood. For oil or grease-based stains, she uses any brand of dish detergent, mixed with a little water, to thin it out.

“Some stains can be stubborn and require a few washes,” she said. “And we can always tell, when clothes come in, whether they’re fresh or not.”

Alberico added that dry cleaning can remove odors, like cigarette smoke, better than washing them can, especially from dense fabrics like wool.

Village Dry Cleaners and Leisure Laundry is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Wednesday and Saturday.


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