Using a conventional Raman experimental apparatus, we demonstrate that the photoluminescent (PL) yield from ultrasonication-exfoliated transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) (MoS2 and WS2) can be increased by up to 8-fold by means of a laser etching procedure. This laser etching process allows us to controllably pattern and reduce the number of layers of the solution-exfoliated material, overcoming the key drawback to solvent-based exfoliation of two-dimensional (2D) semiconducting materials for applications in optoelectronics. The successful laser thinning of the exfoliated 2D crystals was investigated systematically by changes in both Raman and PL spectra. A simple proof-of-principle of the scalability of this laser etching technique for solution-exfoliated TMD crystals was also demonstrated. As well as being applicable for individual materials, it is also possible to use this simple laser etching technique to investigate the structure of solution-generated van der Waals heterostructures, consisting of layers of both MoS2 and WS2.