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Procter & Gamble to test market home dry cleaning product

November 19, 1997

CINCINNATI (AP) _ At about $8 for a navy blazer and wool slacks, or nearly $10 for a silk blouse and dress, the cost of dry cleaning an office uniform can add up quickly.

The Procter & Gamble Co. said Wednesday it is developing a home product for ``dry clean only″ garments that could cut the cost to less than $1 an item. P&G plans to begin test marketing Dryel in Columbus in February.

``Our customer research has found that over half of customers today love the idea of caring for `dry clean only’ clothes at home,″ said Susan Crumpler, manager of research and development for new laundry and cleaning products at P&G.

She said Dryel has been tested by more than 10,000 people in their homes during the past two years.

``Customers have used Dryel to clean and freshen a broad range of garments at home, including blazers, sweaters, skirts, dresses and jackets,″ she said.

However, a midday sampling of dry cleaning customers showed little enthusiasm for home dry cleaning.

``I think I would be hesitant to try it,″ said Pam Schaffner of Cincinnati, who had just picked up some dry cleaning at a downtown shop. ``I think people who do a lot of dry cleaning would want to be sure it was being done right rather than take a chance doing it themselves.″

Julie Head of Cincinnati said she wasn’t the kind of customer sought by P&G or commercial dry cleaners.

``I avoid buying `dry clean only″ items whenever I can,″ she said. ``And when I do, I just wash them in the washing machine.″

A Dryel kit includes a nylon bag and a cloth pre-moistened with a cleaning agent. Garments are placed in the bag and then in a dryer, where heat-activated vapors from the cloth penetrate the clothes and remove odor molecules.

P&G doesn’t claim that Dryel will take the place of dry cleaning, and it does require some attention. Soiled areas must be pre-treated with a solution that comes in the kit, and garments will wrinkle if not put on hangers as soon as the process in the dryer is complete.

Richard Zahneis, who owns two west-side dry cleaning shops, doesn’t think dry cleaners will take a big hit from at-home products.

``It may take some business ... but for more and more people, dry cleaning is a matter of time and convenience,″ he said.

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