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What Does it Cost to Open a Dry Cleaning Business?

The cost to open a dry cleaning business depends entirely on your chosen business model, and can range from an initial investment of less than $50,000 to more than $1 million.

To decide what your business will cost, it’s important to consider the model that is best suited for your budget and for your long-term business goals.

The best way to understand how much it will cost to open the doors to your new dry cleaning business is to review the various business models and consider a breakdown of the expenses associated with starting dry cleaning businesses.

Business Models

There are four common models entrepreneurs consider when they open dry cleaning businesses. Depending on your budget, you can open one model or a combination of the following three options.

Dart in a calendar with caption: start business!

Traditional Storefront or ‘Plant Store’

A traditional storefront, sometimes referred to as your “plant store,” will typically carry the greatest initial investment, but it will allow you to serve a larger client base. The cost of leasing or building this space will vary depending on its size and location.

Drop Locations or Satellite Stores

Drop locations or satellite storefronts are a complement to the plant store. Typically, the cleaning takes place at the plant store, and the satellite location or locations are used by customers to drop off and pick up their clothes. The drop locations allow you to expand your client reach by having branded storefronts in multiple neighborhoods in your community. Because satellite locations have less equipment, opening a drop store won’t cost as much as opening the plant store.


Adding delivery to your business can be an affordable option for entrepreneurs looking to add another stream of revenue to their business. With initial costs typically below $50,000. The business owner will need a vehicle and will typically pay to have it wrapped with branding or graphics to advertise the dry cleaning service while on the road.

Costs Associated with Opening a Dry Cleaning Business

There’s no one number associated with starting a dry cleaning and laundry business but understanding the related costs will help you prepare.

Commercial Property Costs

Whether you’re running a mobile laundry service or operating a large plant store, there will be regular monthly costs associated with the commercial space you use to operate the business. Make sure to budget for vehicle loan payments or rent for a leased storefront.

Consider monthly utilities, such as water, gas, and electric bills. You will also need to prepare to insure your property to cover damage, loss, and on-site injury. Premiums for insurance vary depending on the provider, your business location, the type of vehicles used for business operations, and the size of your store.

Equipment and Products

Entrepreneurs who plan to open a plant store will need commercial laundry equipment to provide services. Is your business strictly for dry cleaning, or will you also offer wash and fold services? Overall costs for equipment will vary depending on the services you offer. What products will you use to clean garments your customers entrust in your care? Costs will vary depending on the products you choose.

If you’re taking over an established dry cleaning business, does the equipment need updating? If you’re leasing an empty space, keep in mind the infrastructure and plumbing may need upgrades for your business needs and the equipment you purchase.

Licensing Costs

Laws about business licenses and permits for laundry service providers vary from state to state, county to county, and city to city. Costs associated with those permits and licenses also depend on your location.

Employee payroll

How many employees do you need to start the business, and what will you pay them? This is an important budgetary item to consider as you determine your financial goals and write your business plan.

Make the Process Easier: Invest in a Tide Cleaners Franchise

Entrepreneurs who choose Tide Cleaners enjoy all the franchise advantages and benefits of a proven business model and a team of professionals determined to help you succeed.

The Tide Cleaners team will provide guidance regarding standards, specifications, operating procedures, marketing, and purchasing equipment and products.

Learn more about Tide Cleaners franchise opportunities.

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