The Clean Show Story – A History

In its 36th year, the Clean Show remains the premier event for the commercial laundering, drycleaning and textile service industry. Thousands of people from all points of the globe come to see and learn about the newest and most technologically advanced products the industry has to offer. Named recently as one of the Fastest 50 Shows by Trade Show Executive Magazine, The Clean Show is the largest textile care exposition in the world that features working equipment.

In a mid-1970s downturn in the country’s economy, industry manufacturers and suppliers found exhibiting at several annual shows costly. They expressed interest in consolidating into one biennial industry-wide exposition. As a result, three associations joined together for a 1975 show they called the Clean Show.

Following that show, three additional sponsors joined in to form the World Educational Congress for Laundering and Drycleaning, and today’s Clean Show was born in 1977. Representing every facet of the industry, current show sponsors are:

Association for Linen Management

(formerly National Association of Institutional Linen Management) serves managers of institutional laundries in hospitals, hotels, nursing homes and public facilities.

Coin Laundry Association (initially National Automatic Laundry and Cleaning Council) represents coin/card laundry and drycleaning store owners, distributors and manufacturers.

Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (formerly International Fabricare Institute) represents retail/neighborhood drycleaners, launderers and wetcleaners nationally and internationally.

Textile Care Allied Trades Association is the association of manufacturers and distributors of commercial laundry and drycleaning equipment and supplies.

Textile Rental Services Association of America (initially Linen Supply Association of America) represents companies engaged in textile maintenance, uniform and linen rental, mats and dust control services to commercial, industrial and institutional businesses.

Sponsors provide educational sessions at the show focusing on the specific needs of their members, generally focusing on new technologies, training, business management and environmental issues. Recognizing the importance of education in a time of technical and environmental changes, the show invites other related associations from the U.S., Canada and Europe to participate in the formal educational program.

Initially, the Clean Show was in Chicago, where it has been held four times. Atlanta hosted the show twice and Dallas once. As the show grew, Las Vegas (five times), New Orleans (five times including 2013) and Orlando (twice) became the only venues that can accommodate the show’s size and its unique utility requirements. In 2015, the show will go back to Atlanta because of new renovations allowing the convention center to accommodate the utility demands. Because the Clean Show features working equipment, it uses more steam than any other trade show in the world. The equivalent of about 100 neighborhood drycleaning establishments is built on the exhibit floor.

The Clean Show’s audience includes store owners, plant operators, technicians, institutional laundry managers, distributors, consultants and buyers. According to Clean Show surveys, more than 94 percent of attendees are business owners, executives or managers, including 56 percent who are business owners. Exhibitors can meet people who are planning to expand or re-equip their businesses, and distributors seeking to expand or enhance the product lines they carry.

The show also has moved with the times technologically, with the Internet and social media playing an ever-increasing role in communication, promotion, registration, and housing. It now features a Cyber Café where attendees can check their e-mail, plus this year will be the first time the show has offered a Clean Show app for use on all smartphones allowing attendees to virtually connect with exhibitors, organize their day, and navigate the show floor.

In 1992 the show, which had been managed by Coin Laundry Association, had grown in size and stature to the point that the sponsors decided to engage professional show management. Riddle & Associates, an Atlanta-based trade show management and consulting firm, was hired to produce Clean ’93. John Riddle, the company’s president, had worked with the Clean Show’s operations since 1981, so it was a natural fit.

Over the years, the Clean Show has become the most anticipated event in the industry. The Clean 2013 theme is “Be There!” emphasizing that it is the individuals who exhibit and attend that contribute to the show’s success.