Unclaimed Items at the Dry Cleaners Are Helping Recovering Addicts Get Back on Their Feet


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Source: Leo Burnett London

Source: Leo Burnett London

One company from the U.K. is helping recovering addicts get back on their feet with a strong first impression.

The Dry/Clean Initiative is part of Action on Addiction, a U.K. substance-addiction organization. This past January the company teamed up with Leo Burnett to help “provide recovering addicts with unclaimed clothing left at the dry cleaners to wear on job interviews.”


“Getting over addiction is one thing, but actually getting back into society is hard, if not harder, because there are all these stereotypes about you,” art director at Leo Burnett, Laura Clark, shared with Today.

The idea came to Clark after a friend left a pair of pants at the dry cleaners for over six months.

“It got me thinking about what happens to all the items left at the dry cleaners,” Clark explained. “So I started to look into how many people leave their clothing at the dry cleaners and what happens to it when they do.”

Clark then made a major discovery. Turns out the dry cleaners take in about 80,000 pieces of clothing per year and about 15% of it gets left behind. Together that adds up to 12,000 unclaimed items that are available for donation. Formal wear makes up about two-thirds of the items left behind.

Most dry cleaners are responsible for keeping the items for about 90 days. After that the items are officially classified as “unclaimed.” This is where Action on Addiction works their magic.

The recovering addicts share their information and sizing with the company and a team sets out to help find them the right outfit for the job. Currently 39 local dry cleaners are involved in the project.

The program has helped many addicts get a job, including a recovering addicted named Debbie. Her substance abuse has been an issue since she was about 10-years-old and has continuously stopped her from getting a stable job.

“The drinks and the drugs had always come first, and that made it impossible to find work — I just need someone to give me a chance,” Debbie shared in the video (below). “Something as simple as a suit can turn someone’s life around.”

Learn more about Debbie and Action on Addiction below.


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