Dry cleaners provide a valuable service in suburbs and towns across Australia. They help treat, clean, restore and maintain clothes and other textiles with specific care requirements (for example, silk, leather and suede).
This page includes information on:
Your consumer rights
Australian Consumer Law guarantees your rights when you buy goods and services.
In fact, most products and services purchased after 1 January 2011 come with an automatic consumer guarantee that the product or service you purchased will work and do what you asked for. This includes dry cleaning.
When you engage a business to provide a service like dry cleaning, you have the right to expect ‘acceptable quality’. Services must be:
- provided with due care or skill (taking all necessary steps to avoid loss and damage)
- fit for any specified purpose (express or implied)
- provided in a reasonable time (when no time is set).
What is ‘reasonable’ will depend on the nature of the service, the difficulty of the task and other relevant factors like busy periods and public holidays etc.
Remedy when things go wrong
You are entitled to an appropriate remedy from the business when the product or service you purchased does not meet one or more of the consumer guarantees.
This might be a refund, a further service to rectify the problem and in some cases, reimbursement for damages and consequential loss.
The type of remedy will depend on whether the problem is:
If the problem is minor and can be fixed, the business can choose how to fix the problem. You cannot cancel and demand a refund immediately. Instead, you must give the business an opportunity to fix the problem. However, if repairs take too long, you can get someone else to fix the problem and ask the business to pay reasonable costs or cancel the service and get a refund.
If the problem is major or cannot be fixed, you can choose to:
- terminate the contract for services and request a full refund
- seek reimbursement for the difference between the value of the services provided compared to the price paid.
For more information, see repairs, replacements & refunds.
A problem is considered ‘major’ when it:
- would have stopped someone from purchasing the service had they known about it
- is substantially unfit for purpose and can’t be fixed in a reasonable timeframe
- creates an unsafe situation
- doesn't meet the specific purpose or achieve the specific result that the consumer requested.
If your garment or item is lost or damaged
If the dry cleaner has damaged your garment or item, it is considered a major problem and they should compensate you for it. The compensation will be based on the age and condition of the article. If the pants are damaged from a set, the dry cleaner might need to replace the full set as a reasonable settlement.
Sometimes the items are lost or incorrectly given to the wrong person. If the item can’t be recovered, the dry cleaner will be responsible to reasonably compensate you.
There might be a manufacturing fault or failure of a component, for example incorrect stitching, faulty dyes, faulty or broken buttons etc, has caused the dry cleaning process to damage the garment, in which case the garment should be referred to the retailer or manufacturer for help.
For more information, see repairs, replacements & refunds.
Proof of purchase and documentation
You have the right to receive proof of purchase (like an invoice, cash register receipt, handwritten receipt or lay-by agreement).
If the service has a warranty, it will give you some extra protection against faults. Warranties generally have terms and conditions attached - it’s your responsibility to be aware of these.
Advertising can be a powerful means of persuasion, so it’s important it is truthful, accurate and easy to understand. Australian Consumer Law protects consumers from deceptive advertising claims and conduct.
Businesses are not allowed to make false or misleading representations about their products or services. This includes advertising for dry cleaning. Any statement regarding qualifications or experience should be supported and if licensed, the licence number should be printed on any advertising.
Learn more about advertising standards.
Have a problem?
- Contact the business in the first instance and explain the problem. We have tips and sample letters to help you take the first step.
- If you’re unable to resolve the matter with the business, contact the Dry cleaning Institute of Australia (DIA) on 1300 134 511. The DIA handles consumer complaints for member companies and can give you advice.
- If the dry cleaner is not a member of the DIA or you are unhappy with the response, you can contact us for help on 13 32 20 or make a complaint online.
Be a savvy consumer
All clothing and most textile items sold in Australia must have a label attached detailing the care instructions for the item. This is called ‘care labelling’.
These instructions should include:
- prohibited treatments and warnings
- washing instructions
- drying instructions
- ironing instructions, and
- dry cleaning instructions.
Before taking your item to be dry cleaned, make sure it is the right way to care for it.
What can I do to prevent a problem from occuring?
There are a few things that both you and your dry cleaner can do to ensure that problems do not occur:
- make sure cleaning is done in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions outlined on the care label
- if you insist that cleaning go against the advice of the dry cleaner, the dry cleaner should note this on the docket and you should acknowledge it
- prior to dropping in the garment, all pockets should be checked to ensure that there are no foreign objects that may spoil the cleaning process
- examine the item carefully with the dry cleaner and note any damage, cloth blemishes, fading, tears etc on the docket
- keep your dockets and receipt in case a problem occurs in future.
Can’t find the information you’re looking for? Call us on 13 32 20 or submit an online enquiry.
Who enforces Australian Consumer Law?
The following agencies enforce provisions relating to consumer goods and services:
- Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC)
- NSW Fair Trading, and
- other State and Territory consumer protection agencies.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) is responsible for financial products and services.