Dry Cleaning Adventures in Africa

It’s not easy to get your pants dry-cleaned in Accra

morton dry cleaning
The sign I was seeking
nice suit
How does he clean that?
When I travel, I travel light. It doesn’t matter if I am gone for a week or a month, I generally take the same amount of clothes, both because I never check my bags and because I don’t need that many clothes.

First, when I am traveling, it’s rare that I will see the same people twice. I am often moving too fast through a country for anyone to remember my outfits. Second, even if they did, they will not mind. Most cultures outside the USA expect that you have a limited wardrobe, and even less options when traveling. Last but not least, there is this great invention – laundry service – that can either be done alone, in the shower, or by a hotel.

By my third week in Africa, I had already washed my clothes several times, but I had not the chance to dry clean a pair of pants. My only dry clean only item, these pants were a mainstay of my attire, being both dressy and quite cool. And yet after two weeks, they were not quite that clean.

So mid-day on a Friday, when I could not get though to confirm my next appointment, I decided it was time to dry clean my pants. The day before, I had asked around at Busy Internet, and heard of a reputable dry cleaner, Morton Dry Cleaners in Asylum Down, the neighbourhood where I was staying in Accra.

Yet on Friday, when I asked to go there, the taxi driver didn’t know where the dry cleaner was – he didn’t even know what dry cleaning is! He kept offering to have his wife wash my pants, so when I got to Asylum Down, I started walking, looking for Morton’s by asking people as I went.

It turns out that few Ghanaians know about dry cleaning. Repeated queries of people, cabbies, and even a baby at one frustrating point just gave me stares, vague pointing, and a general refusal to admit they didn’t have a clue. I finally saw someone walking by with a dry cleaned outfit and asked them where the cleaners were.

Up on a hill, I saw the Morton Dry Cleaning sign, and although I was now soaked with sweat, I was happy to know I would have clean pants. I dropped them off, asking for a Monday delivery, as this weekend, I was Togo bound with Efex Executive.

But don’t think this story ends to nicely. When I went to pick them up at 7am on Tuesday (they were to be ready on Monday) the pants were nowhere to be found. A shouting match later, they promised they would find them and bring them to me at my hotel by 8am, since I needed to wear them to my full day of meetings on Tuesday. I was also leaving Tuesday afternoon for Nigeria.

I set a time of 8am, and headed back to my hotel to shower and pack. Just as I tried to call the dry cleaners, livid that yet again, Africans didn’t know time, the Morton guy arrived with my clean pants.

The best part: the delivery guy came back after handing me the pants just to say “We’re at your service when you need dry cleaning again”. Like I want to have another Ghana dry cleaning experience.