Clean Start

Dry clean your clothes in this climate startup's vending machine

Startup creates environmentally friendly method of dry cleaning
Startup creates environmentally friendly method of dry cleaning

Dry cleaning is not only costly for consumers, it's costly to the environment as well. Toxic chemicals can disperse into the air and remain on clothing. Its heavy use of plastics around each cleaned garment, as well as transportation of clothes to and from the cleaning facilities, contribute to global warming through carbon emissions.

While some industrial dry cleaners are opting for greener chemicals, others are looking to change the whole business model.

Presso is an Atlanta-based startup that invented what looks like a vending machine for dry cleaning, but its process is a little different.

"We actually invented an entirely new clothing care process from scratch with compostable organic cleaning liquid that we synthesize in our own office with our own engineers, as well as new ways to stretch and press clothes," said Presso CEO Nishant Jain.

First, the user positions a piece of clothing in the Presso machine and then enters information about its fabric and size. The process, however, takes only a few minutes and can cost up to 80% less than traditional dry cleaning, depending on the garment.

Along the way, it consumes seven times less water and three times less electricity than traditional laundry and dry-cleaning services, according to the company. It also eliminates transportation to a cleaning facility. And all that reduces the carbon footprint of the clothing care by 93%, it added.

"There are no hangers that are disposable, there's no disposable plastic bags. None of the process of even doing logistics inside a dry cleaning facility, none of that exists anymore," said Jain.

Presso now has machines in a few boutique hotels and apartment buildings, but it is making a push into the big hotel brands, like IHG. It has machines now at two Holiday Inns and plans to expand to more IHG properties.

Holiday Inn Express franchise owner Dipan Patel said the guest response has been very positive. "Once we get the service to a point where our guests are educated and people are comfortable using the services, I don't see a reason why it won't be in every hotel in the country," Patel said.

Presso doesn't have a lot of competition in the industrial space, but it hopes to bring these machines to consumers at home. There is already some competition in that market, but Jain likens it to the microwave, which moved quickly from restaurants and industrial use to become one of the most popular home appliances.

"In the next five years we expect to be nationwide and start looking into scaling internationally," he added.

Presso is backed by Uncork Capital, Cherubic Ventures, 1517 Fund, AME Cloud Ventures, SOSV's Hax and Pathbreaker Ventures. It has so far raised just under $10 million in funding.

CNBC producer Lisa Rizzolo contributed to this piece.