In today’s interconnected global economy, interstate armed conflicts can have profound and far-reaching impacts on various industries. While sectors like oil and gas, manufacturing, and technology often dominate the headlines, the laundry, dry cleaning, and textile care industry also faces significant challenges and disruptions in times of geopolitical strife. This article delves into how interstate armed conflict influences this industry, focusing on supply chain disruptions, operational challenges, and strategies for resilience.

Supply Chain Disruptions

One of the most immediate and tangible impacts of interstate armed conflict on the laundry, dry cleaning, and textile care industry is the disruption of supply chains. This sector relies heavily on a steady supply of chemicals, textiles, and machinery, much of which is sourced internationally.

1. Chemical Supply Shortages

Key chemicals used in dry cleaning and laundry processes, such as perchloroethylene (perc) and various detergents, are often imported from countries engaged in or affected by armed conflicts. When conflict disrupts production or transport routes, it can lead to shortages and increased prices. For instance, the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has had significant implications for the supply of chemicals, as both countries are major producers and exporters of various industrial chemicals.

2. Textile Supply Chain Interruptions

The textile industry is deeply interconnected, with raw materials often sourced from one country, processed in another, and then shipped worldwide. Armed conflicts can disrupt these complex supply chains at multiple points. For example, the Syrian civil war severely affected the availability of cotton from the region, which had a knock-on effect on textile manufacturers and, subsequently, the laundry and dry cleaning businesses relying on these textiles.

3. Machinery and Equipment Delays

Modern laundry and dry cleaning operations depend on sophisticated machinery, much of which is manufactured in countries prone to geopolitical tensions. Delays in the production and shipment of these machines due to conflict can hinder the ability of businesses to maintain and upgrade their equipment, impacting operational efficiency.

Operational Challenges

Beyond supply chain issues, interstate armed conflicts present a host of operational challenges for businesses in the laundry, dry cleaning, and textile care industry.

1. Labour Shortages

Armed conflicts can lead to significant displacement of populations, affecting the availability of labour. In countries directly involved in conflicts, workers may be conscripted into military service or displaced as refugees. This labour shortage can severely impact operations, particularly in regions where the industry relies heavily on manual labour.

2. Increased Operating Costs

Conflict zones often experience skyrocketing prices for essential services such as electricity, water, and fuel. These cost increases can put a substantial strain on laundry and dry cleaning businesses, which are typically energy-intensive operations. For example, the conflict in Yemen has led to a significant increase in fuel prices, making it more expensive for businesses to operate generators during frequent power outages.

3. Security Concerns

Operating in or near conflict zones poses significant security risks. Businesses may face damage to property, theft, or even direct threats to the safety of their staff. Ensuring the security of both employees and physical assets becomes a top priority, often requiring additional investment in security measures.

Strategies for Resilience

Despite the challenges posed by interstate armed conflicts, the laundry, dry cleaning, and textile care industry can adopt several strategies to build resilience and ensure continuity of operations.

1. Diversifying Supply Chains

One of the most effective ways to mitigate the impact of supply chain disruptions is to diversify suppliers. By sourcing chemicals, textiles, and machinery from multiple regions, businesses can reduce their dependency on any single supplier or geographic area. This approach not only spreads risk but also provides alternative options if one supply line is compromised.

2. Investing in Local Production

Where feasible, investing in local production of key inputs can help insulate businesses from international supply chain disruptions. For example, developing local sources of textiles or chemicals can reduce reliance on imports. Additionally, local production supports the economy and can provide a more stable supply base in times of international conflict.

3. Enhancing Operational Flexibility

Businesses can enhance their resilience by increasing operational flexibility. This includes cross-training employees to perform multiple roles, allowing operations to continue even if some staff are unavailable. Additionally, investing in modular and adaptable machinery can help businesses quickly shift production methods in response to changing circumstances.

4. Strengthening Security Measures

Investing in robust security measures is crucial for businesses operating in or near conflict zones. This can include physical security enhancements, such as reinforced buildings and secure storage areas, as well as cybersecurity measures to protect against digital threats. Employee safety programmes, including evacuation plans and emergency response training, are also essential.

5. Building Strong Relationships with Stakeholders

Strong relationships with suppliers, customers, and local communities can provide valuable support during times of conflict. Open communication channels with suppliers can help businesses stay informed about potential disruptions and explore alternative arrangements. Similarly, maintaining strong customer relationships can ensure continued loyalty and support, even when service delivery is challenged.

Case Study: The Impact of the Ukraine Conflict on the Textile Care Industry

The ongoing conflict in Ukraine provides a pertinent example of how interstate armed conflicts can affect the laundry, dry cleaning, and textile care industry.

Supply Chain Disruptions

Ukraine and Russia are significant suppliers of various raw materials, including chemicals and textiles. The conflict has disrupted production and export activities, leading to shortages and increased costs for these inputs. European laundry and dry cleaning businesses have had to source alternatives, often at higher prices, impacting their cost structures and profit margins.

Operational Challenges

The conflict has led to displacement of labour, with many workers either conscripted or fleeing the region. This has created labour shortages in the industry, particularly in Eastern Europe. Additionally, increased energy costs due to disrupted gas supplies from Russia have further strained operational budgets.

Resilience Strategies

In response, many businesses have diversified their supply chains, seeking alternative suppliers in Asia and other parts of the world. Investments in local production capacities have also been prioritised, with some companies developing in-house chemical production facilities to reduce dependency on imports. Enhanced security measures and robust contingency planning have helped businesses navigate the turbulent environment.


Interstate armed conflicts present significant challenges for the laundry, dry cleaning, and textile care industry, affecting supply chains, operations, and overall business stability. However, by adopting strategies such as diversifying supply chains, investing in local production, enhancing operational flexibility, strengthening security measures, and building strong stakeholder relationships, businesses can build resilience and continue to thrive even in the face of geopolitical turmoil.

Understanding and preparing for these impacts is crucial for industry stakeholders, enabling them to navigate the complexities of a world where armed conflicts remain a persistent reality. By doing so, the laundry, dry cleaning, and textile care industry can ensure continuity, support local economies, and maintain the essential services they provide to communities worldwide.