Fenton — A cross section of the community filters through Dixie Cleaners, in Fenton. On the racks already pressed, is a dress white shirt of the Fenton fire chief and a polo shirt for a Lasco Ford employee. Both Fenton and Linden high school’s mascots are cleaned here.
Tom Moleski is co-owner and four employees run the company; they’re all family. He said the main body of the mascot costumes are washed like the rest of the clothing, while the mascot head is steam cleaned by hand.
There isn’t much that Moleski’s family cannot clean. “I pretty much try anything,” he said. This included a bear skin from a taxidermist and a man who wanted mold cleaned from several leather coats.
Moleski washed the bear skin and sent the leather coats out to a different company.
The changing season right now marks an uptick in dry cleaning business, as comforters are pulled off and taken to the cleaners and winter clothes are brought out and freshened up.
A down comforter crossed sister Lisa Perczak’s desk for holes to be repaired. She’s worked here for 45 years and was taking out the waist of a pair of gray dress pants at her desk. The most unusual item she has sewn is a squeegee head. “That’s a first,” she said.
Dry cleaning technically isn’t a “dry” process. The chemical perchlorethylene is used instead of water. One machine performs the cleaning, extracting and drying process. Moleski said the machine works like a big washing machine.
He said the chemical is not too dangerous. “I’ve had it on my skin many times, it’s got a nasty odor.”
When clothing comes in, it is put in a basket, and spot cleaned as needed. Then it is put in the machine to be cleaned. After the machine, the article is pressed, sorted and bagged. Many clothing items like sports coats require dry cleaning.
Moleski said it’s a simple process. A number is assigned to each article of clothing and each invoiced.
The conveyor system is the heart of the business, stretching from the back of the room up to the front counter. It looks complicated. It dates back to the 1950s. “It’s pretty ancient, but it works,” said Cynthia Favreau, who handles the front desk and assembling orders.
Every employee including Moleski takes part in what amounts to a steam and person-driven assembly line. He runs the pants press machine. “It’s one of those hectic days,” he said. While he presses pants, sister Diana Klemp presses the collars and sleeves of dress shirts at dizzying speeds and hands it off to her sister Donna Carmer, who runs the shirt press machine, which is foot operated. It sounds like a machine gun that shoots steam.
Steam is always in the background, and many pipes and antique ironing equipment are constantly hot.
Moleski said the boiler to run the steam apparatus heats at 425,000 BTUs (British Thermal Units) and pumps the water with a 10-horsepower motor.
For comparison, a 40-gallon water heater in a typical home rates at around 38,000 BTUs, said Dave Lamb of Dave Lamb Heating and Cooling.
The family has been in this business for 60 years. “We just keep plugging along,” said Moleski. “We like to be more quality than quantity.”
Men’s Tie Care
• Hang up your tie as soon as you remove it at the end of the day.
• Allow the wrinkles created from the note to naturally fall out over a few days time.
• Try not to wear the same tie two days in a row.
• When traveling, roll your ties and use a travel case designed for this purpose.
• In a pinch you can insert the rolled tie into a shoe for protection.
• Never use a stain kit or a dampened napkin to attempt stain removal.