How to

Start a Laundry/Dry Cleaners

  • 1

    Create Your Business

  • 2

    Plan Your Space

  • 3

    Apply for Permits

  • 4

    Begin Construction

  • 5

    Prepare to Open

  • 6

    Open Your Doors

Step 1: Create Your Business

Creating your business involves an organized amount of planning.

NYC Business Solutions offers free support to help you comply with government requirements, save money through incentives and reach customers. Register your business: LLC’s, Corporations, and Limited Partnerships with NY State; General Partnerships and Sole Proprietorships with the County Clerk. An EIN (Employer Identification Number), also known as a Federal Tax ID Number will identify your business, so applying for that is an important early step. If you’re a sole proprietor, you may be able to use your Social Security Number. Apply for a Sales Tax ID or Certificate of Authority and make sure to research required insurance, like workers’ compensation.

Step 2: Plan Your Space

Planning your space properly can minimize potential overages and future difficulties.

Find a location zoned for your business – the city allows small laundries and dry cleaners in nearly all zones. Consult a licensed professional to make sure the space complies with building and operating codes and plan any changes. Make sure your architect, engineer or contractor are licensed. Before signing your lease, talk to a lawyer to make sure the agreement is good for you. Get free legal advice here and remember that basements often cannot be used as workspace or for other uses beyond storage. 

Step 3: Apply for Permits

Before you begin construction, you need to apply for construction permits.

Have your licensed professional draw plans for proposed changes and make sure they comply with the NYC Department of Buildings and Fire Department. Submit plans and required documents through your registered architect or professional engineer to the NYC Department of Buildings. Monitor the status of your job’s approval and remember, Professional Certification “Pro-Cert” could save you time in receiving permits. Backflow prevention devices must be installed and large boilers and water heaters require a permit to install and a certificate to operate.

Step 4: Begin Construction

When it’s time to begin construction, post approved permits and safety information on your work site.

Once you’ve begun, monitor progress with your licensed professional and consult about progress inspections and their cost, which may not be included in your project bid. Arrange for final inspections and sign off with your licensed professional and city agencies. Make sure to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy, Temporary Certificate of Occupancy or Letter of Completion from the NYC Department of Buildings before inhabiting the building. Remember that canopies and signs must be approved before installing.

Step 5: Prepare to Open

When the job is almost complete, prepare to open.

A surety bond is required by NYC Department of Consumer Affairs for you to get your laundry license. Make sure to get your laundry license at that site as well. Look into a Jobber License in case you need one. Request a weights and measures inspection to ensure laundry scales are accurate. If you’re a dry cleaners you must have a Certificate to Operate. Register boilers, water heaters and other equipment here and limit water use. For more info on water usage and limitations visit here for Industrial Waste Discharge Permits and Waste Water Quality Control. Hire a waste carter and post information on sorting and collection. PERC and other hazardous materials must be registered, labeled and disposed specially.

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Step 6: Open Your Doors

You’ve opened your doors and are operating your convenience store - congratulations!

Plan ahead to keep things running smoothly. Post all required posters and permits, such as signs for your CPR kits and No Smoking. Schedule equipment maintenance and set reminders in your calendar to review your permits and licenses. Be ready for inspections that happen throughout the year, sometimes unannounced. Monitor your goods to ensure you comply with expiration dates and work with your accountant to prepare to pay taxes. Note that animals are not permitted on premises; only service animals are permitted.