Beginner’s Guide on Starting a Dry Cleaning Business in the United Kingdom

Starting a Dry Cleaning Business in the United KingdomDo you have what it takes to get into a dry cleaning business? If you do, starting a dry cleaning business in the United Kingdom may not be the money-spinner, but you still can earn decent money. This is because people get fewer clothes dry cleaned than in previous years. We now have more affordable clothing that people tend to buy more that could last for years. They would then discard the clothes then look after to wear again. However, people do get their clothes to dry cleaners.

Before starting a dry cleaning business in the United Kingdom, you can check out this guide to company registration in the United Kingdom.


Industry Practice

In the UK, the dry cleaning business has customarily worked by cleaning fabrics using solvents rather than water, therefore retaining the shape and structure of the clothes. Nevertheless, with the advancing technology, there are several different ways to dry clean clothes, including water use. The industry is conscious of the health and environment, and there is the use of ‘green’ chemicals.

Dry cleaning constitutes cleaning the clothing and garments using a special chemical solvent instead of water to remove stains and dirt. As the name suggests, it does not involve the use of any water or soap. What happens is that a liquid cleaning substance is used where all the dirty garments are soaked into it. The initial stages of liquid are highly flammable and considered hazardous to use. Currently, perchloroethylene is the solvent that most dry cleaners use.

Several types of fabrics would require special attention and care during dry cleaning.

  • Silk: When the fabric contains over 60% silk, you must take special care to safeguard the natural silk fiber. This is because natural fibers tend to change their shape when exposed to regular wash.
  • Cotton voile or muslin: they both fall under the very delicate fabric and may easily tear if one attempts to hand wash them. Therefore, they require dry cleaning only.
  • Suede and soft leathers: extra care is needed when handling this fabric
  • Cashmere: another fabric that is never rugged and should best be taken for dry cleaning

With that in mind, when starting a dry cleaning business in the United Kingdom, ensure you pay attention to how to handle the different types of fabric.

Dry cleaning has several stages, which include:

  • Stain removal and pre-treatment: involve identifying the stains on the clothes and treatment to remove them altogether.
  • Dry cleaning: then there is the soaking of the soiled clothes in the solvent and washed thoroughly in the machine.
  • Posts-spotting: in case there is evidence of any stains, the removal process is applied again.
  • Finishing: this involves the pressing to remove creases and fold it to ensure that it’s ready for wear.


Business Registration Process

Starting a dry cleaning business in the United Kingdom offers an opportunity to explore and earn some decent income. However, before you start, you must do some of the following:

Agree on a Location and Model

Before you start, you must know in advance where you plan on opening your business. This gives you a chance to factor in the cost of renting. Again, you may also desire to brand yourself as an alternative dry cleaning business that provides home delivery or uses environmentally friendly cleaning methods. If you decide to have a home delivery service, you must have reliable transportation and reliable drivers. Additionally, it gives you a chance on whether or not you’ll hire staff or a team of workers.

Alternatively, you can decide to open a “green” dry cleaning business where you’ll use healthy environmentally-friendly chemicals.

Develop a Business Plan

Having a business plan should be part of your professional goals for achieving your goals. This document will serve as the blueprint for your business and may enable you to secure funding if you intend to take a loan. Within the business plan, ensure you describe your service in more refined details, including what differentiates you from the rest. Develop a sales strategy that includes the sales force and your projected sales activities. Also, remember to lay out your proposed marketing strategy.

Register Your Business

The law in the UK requires that you register your business for you to begin operating legally. Again, you must decide on the type of business structure that will make you grow exponentially. In the UK, we have a sole trader, limited partnership, and limited company. If you plan to have faster growth, registering a company may give you an added advantage over the others. This means that you must have all the legal documents necessary for registering a company. The Companies House is the department responsible for company incorporation services in the United Kingdom.

Acquire the Necessary Permits and Licenses

Operating a dry cleaning business in the UK has some legislation and regulations. It would help if you acquired an operator’s permit from the local authority for you to operate. Moreover, you must understand the legislation concerned with health & safety and environmentally hazardous chemical use safety.

Rent or Purchase Equipment

This type of business will require you to have the necessary dry cleaning equipment. Although they might be expensive, you may opt to rent the equipment initially and buy when you have the funds.

Research the Market

Before you roll your business, you must do market research. In this business, you may have a mix of retail and trade customers. For retail customers, these will include private individuals with clothing for dry cleaning. Trade customers may emanate from other businesses that need dry cleaning and laundry services regularly. They may include:

  • Restaurants and hotel
  • Hairdressing and beauty salons, health spas
  • Clothing hire businesses

Likewise, it would help if you researched the local competition. How many cleaners are there within your local area? What type of other special services do they offer? As a corporate service provider, find out about your competitors by looking at their advertisements and paying a visit to their premises.

Do Your Pricing

Starting a dry cleaning business in the United Kingdom means you’re out to make profits. Therefore, you need to work out a price list that will cover all the different services you provide. You can probably set standard prices for cleaning different types of items.

For instance, men’s suits, trousers, dresses, jackets and so on. Things like curtains are usually charged per square meter, and the price would go up if it’s a curtain with linings. Remember, when setting your price to consider the following:

  • What your competitors are charging for a similar service
  • The level of completion
  • Whether the local people in your area will afford your prices.


Licenses, Permits, and Regulations

The demand for the dry cleaning business in the UK and the rest of the world is on its ascendancy. The Environmental Permit Regulations require that all dry cleaning businesses register with the local authority environmental health department. Here is where the business is issued with an operator’s permit if the equipment used meets the required standards. This is a fee payable annually. The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) is the one responsible for issuing permits. If you’re operating receiving units, then you’ll not need a permit. Before starting a dry cleaning business in the United Kingdom, begin applying for the operator’s permit because it takes a while.

Other Licenses Needed

In scenarios where you plan to play background music in your premise, then you must apply for a Music License.

Regulation/ Legislation

A dry-cleaning business is often regarded to pose a potential hazard to staff, customers, and the environment. The cleaning chemicals and solvents, heating equipment, hot steam, and electricity may pose a danger. Here are some of the legislation that exists to protect people and the environment:

Solvent Emissions Directive

This legislation requires that everyone using dry cleaning solvents be competent and qualified and possess a permit from the local authority. The Guild of Cleaners and Launderers (GCL) offers a great deal of information to its members on the directive of getting a permit. You also get a qualification referred to as the Safe Handling of Dry Cleaning Solvents.

Hazardous Substances

  • The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH)—covers the storage and use of chemicals such as perchloroethylene.
  • The Environmental Protection Act—regulates the disposal of waste chemicals and detergents.

Health & Safety, Fire

The law requires that you comply with workplace health and safety and fire regulations. You can always get the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidance on their website.

Starting a Dry Cleaning Business in the United Kingdom

If you’re seeking further clarification or assistance, contact 3E Accounting.