See more synonyms for cleaner on
  1. a person who cleans, especially one whose regular occupation is cleaning offices, buildings, equipment, etc.
  2. an apparatus or machine for cleaning, as a vacuum cleaner.
  3. a preparation for use in cleaning, as a detergent or chemical bleach.
  4. the owner or operator of a dry-cleaning establishment: The cleaner said he couldn't get the spot off my coat.
  5. Usually cleaners. a dry-cleaning establishment: My suit is at the cleaners.
  1. take to the cleaners, Slang. to cause to lose all or a great deal of one's money or personal property, as through gambling or a bad investment: He got taken to the cleaners in the poker game last night.

Origin of cleaner

First recorded in 1425–75, cleaner is from the late Middle English word clener. See clean, -er1
Related formspre·clean·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for take to the cleaners


  1. a person, device, chemical agent, etc, that removes dirt, as from clothes or carpets
  2. (usually plural) a shop, etc that provides a dry-cleaning service
  3. take a person to the cleaners informal to rob or defraud a person of all of his money
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for take to the cleaners



mid-15c., agent noun from clean (v.). Meaning "shop that cleans clothes" is from 1873. To take (someone) to the cleaners "get all of (someone's) money" is from 1921.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with take to the cleaners

take to the cleaners


Take or cheat one out of all of one's money or possessions, as in Her divorce lawyer took him to the cleaners, or That broker has taken a number of clients to the cleaners. [Slang; early 1900s]


Drub, beat up, as in He didn't just push you—he took you to the cleaners. [Slang; early 1900s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.