I may be wrong, but I have always understood that one of the componenents of high quality dry cleaning is that the garment was returned to the customer in as close to "like new" condition as possible. This included odor. If you look at the IFI quality rating forms from several years back, one of the items included on the rating form was odor. Garments should be returned with no odor or smell. When you go back over the last 15 years or so, it appears that in the opinions of some of those in our industry (this includes manufacturers and dry cleaners alike), the idea of odor free cleaning no longer applies.
Fragrances have always been used in the dry cleaning industry. Mostly this was used to cover up poor housekeeping conditions that resulted in bad smells in the finished garments and only used until that problem could be corrected. Sometimes when doing restoration dry cleaning a fragrance would be added to help those garments that had odor that couldn't be totally removed. But in the mid 90's we started to see detergents imported into the U.S. with strong fragrances added. The marketing that accompanied these products seemed to insinuate that this "fresh" smell could be equated to a garment that was actually cleaner even though the actual soil removal was not any better than those products without fragrance added and in many cases was worse. This proved to be a good marketing tool for those with the products with fragrance added and soon all manufacturers were offering a product that had a fragrance added. So now we have detergents with fragrances added, additives that can be used to cover smells and solvents that have their own particular smell.
As a dry cleaning plant owner, all of this talk about smells would make me very nervous. What smells good to one person does not always smell good to the other. (For a great article on why we like different smells, check out The Dana Foundation website). In fact what smells good to one person can be downright offensive to another. Can you afford to offend those customers who may not like the smell of your finished garment?
Whether you add a fragrance or not is a business decision that you must make. I know what I would do. If you do use a detergent or additive for the fragrance, I would never rely on this to cover up poor housekeeping and maintenance procedures in your dry cleaning plant. Distill your solvent, change your filters regularly, clean your water seperators, clean your base tanks and make sure you are reclaiming as efficiently as your equipment will allow.
One of the Merriam-Websters dictionary's definitions of smell is "to have an odor or scent". My question to all dry cleaners is how does your dry cleaning smell? Is it an odor or scent?