Top of Tips
Clothing and Fabric Care Tips
Our business is to keep you and your clothing looking its best. For some fabrics special care is needed and stain removal can also be fairly tricky. We've provided some of the best practices and tips for you to use.
Whether it’s a new or well-worn, treasured garment, everyone hates to have clothing stains. We understand, and will always use our best efforts to make clothing stains go away. Sometimes it’s pretty easy – sometimes not. Either way, we have the professional expertise to do the job.
Successful removal of clothing stains depends largely on the nature of the stain, the type of fabric, and the colorfastness of the dye. Some fabrics and dyes simply will not withstand the use of cleaning or stain removal agents. Some stains, like ink and dried paint for example, can be impossible to remove. “Miracle” stain removers – guaranteed to remove clothing stains – are pretty much just that. It would be a miracle if they did the job.
Help Us Help You With Clothing Stains
Bring a stained garment to us as soon as possible to prevent the stains from setting. Show us the location of clothing stains (see “invisible stains”) and tell us any removal procedures you may have attempted before turning to us for help.
Never put a garment away for the season without it being cleaned. Every year we see garments that weren’t dirty “when I put it away for summer,” only to be taken out in the fall full of little holes and stains. The smallest unseen food crumb or spillage invites insect damage.
Don’t iron stained or soiled clothes trying to get just one more wearing out of them. Ironing dirty clothes will set stains and drive soil deeper into the fabric. Not good.
If You Must Do Something Before We Get Your Stains
Never rub clothing stains. Blot the stained area. This may help remove some of the staining substance while avoiding damage to the fabric.
“But It Wasn’t Stained When I Brought It In”
Some clothing stains caused by beverages, food, or oily substances may not be visible after they dry. But later, with exposure to heat or simply the passage of time, a yellow or brownish stain will appear. This is the end result of oxidation or caramelization of sugar or sweetening agents. It is the same process that makes a peeled apple turn brown after exposure to air. If we don’t know about it we can’t fix it, so let us know if you spilled something.
White Turns Yellow
This problem arises when white and pastel fabrics begin to yellow. When this happens, a little investigative work typically reveals a manufacturer defect in the optical or fluorescent whitening agent applied to the fabric. When this agent begins to break down as the result of exposure to light, atmospheric gases, or drycleaning or washing solutions, yellowing results. The problem cannot be corrected and can only be prevented by the manufacturer using stable brighteners.
Consumer-Related Sources Of Discoloration Stains
Perspiration – Body oils, antiperspirants, or perspiration left long enough on silk and wool garments will weaken the fabric. Frequently cleaning clothes heavily soiled with perspiration can lessen the likelihood of a problem.
Acids – Perspiration, deodorant, antiperspirant, even “all natural organic” products, fruit juice, or hair preparations can cause a change or loss of color along with weakening the fabric.
Alcohol – Perfume, cologne, skin freshener, aftershave, hair spray, medicine, and adult beverages can cause permanent stains or color loss.
Bleach – Home bleach, hair care products, disinfectant, skin lotion, acne preparations, whitening toothpaste, medicine, cleaning products, office supplies, and other such items can cause a change or loss of color or fabric weakening depending on the dye and fabric.
Alkaline Substances – Cleaning products, toothpaste, soap, detergents, shampoo, and skin preparations can also cause problems that may not appear until the stained area has aged or the item is exposed to heat during a cleaning process.
Salt – Perspiration, beverages and food, medicine, even wintry street gutter splash or snow removal slush can result in a change in color on wool fabrics.
Hair Preparations – Permanent wave solution or other hair care products can result in a change in color. This type of staining is easily recognized by the location in the neckline, shoulder, or back of a garment.
Here’s What We Do for Clothing Stains
We attempt to remove stains in accordance with professional practices. However, not all stains can be removed despite our best efforts. This usually means that:
- The clothing stains are very old, oxidized, and set in the fabric
- The delicacy of the fabric limits the degree of removal
- The fabric dye is soluble – that is, we would remove the dye along with the stains
The more information you provide and the sooner you give it to us, the greater the chance of satisfactory stain removal.
We know that creating that special ambiance in your home took time. Whether your home furnishing are custom-made or off-the-shelf, all need a thorough cleaning from time to time to extend their useful life. That’s where we come in.
We clean and restore a lot of draperies. With proper care, draperies made of an average grade of fabric can be expected to last three to five years. A higher price does not necessarily mean that they will last longer than less expensive draperies.
The greatest concern with draperies is the conditions they are exposed to in your home. That’s why we carefully examine and evaluate them before undertaking any cleaning procedures.
- Sunlight can discolor and weaken fabric resulting in a shredding of the drapes after a cleaning process.
- Exposure to moisture and humidity from rain, window condensation, leaks, or pet stains can cause dye bleeding and stubborn water rings that may be impossible to remove.
- If the fabric has not been properly preshrunk, drycleaning, laundering, or wetcleaning can cause shrinkage. Manufacturing industry standards allow two to four percent shrinkage in household fabrics—a significant amount on a ceiling-to-floor length drapery. Loosely woven fabrics or those made of rayon and acetate blends are more susceptible to shrinkage. Separate linings, on the other hand, may not shrink at the same rate.
- Insulated or reflective coated backing may degrade to the point that some of the coating actually comes off.
- The combined effects of age, moisture, light, heat, smoke, and other atmospheric soils can cause fabrics to become permanently discolored. Unfortunately, even with the greatest precautions, after draperies and other fabric window coverings are cleaned, existing damage will some times become evident. For this reason, we discuss possible results before cleaning and require customer consent prior to undertaking any requested service.
Bedspreads and Comforters
Sometimes we are asked to clean bedspreads and comforters simply because of their size. Other times it’s because the care instructions read “professional care is best.” Save any care instructions, as they may be on a temporary label or on the packaging instead of being attached to the item since care labels are not required on household items. We strongly suggest that all matching or coordinating items are cleaned at the same time. This way any color changes, however minimal, will be uniform. Whatever the circumstance, we double check all available information and examine the fabric and construction before beginning any cleaning process.
Upholstery is usually cleaned by a professional cleaning process while still on the furniture. This ensures that the cushion covers continue to match the rest of the furniture, and it reduces the possibility of shrinkage. The zippers on furniture cushions are generally used by the manufacturer to get the cushion into the upholstery covering, not to remove the covering for cleaning. Cleanability codes have been adopted by the American Furniture Manufacturers to help consumers better understand upholstery care. The codes can often be found attached to the upholstery item or may be found on a temporary label.
Cleanability Code W: Spot clean, using the foam only from a water-based cleaning agent, such as a mild detergent or non-solvent upholstery shampoo product.
Cleanability Code X: Clean this fabric only by vacuuming or light brushing. Water-based foam or solvent-based cleaning agents of any kind may cause excessive shrinking, fading, or possible pile distortion.
Cleanability Code S: Clean with pure solvent in a well-ventilated room. Cleaning by a professional furniture.
Leather and Suede
Leather and Suede
Leather looks good and you look good wearing it. To keep it that way, CLEAN IT EVERY YEAR. Our leather specialist knows how to best clean and restore your leather garment. Always clean all matching items at the same time. If staining occurs, bring it to us as soon as possible. DO NOT try to remove spots yourself.
And because we are very good at what we do, if there are concerns about a particular garment, we’ll take time to advise you before proceeding.
Selecting a Leather Garment
- Buy from a reputable retailer
- Look for careful matching of textures and colors throughout the garment; however, suede will never be completely uniform
- Avoid a snug fit. Some relaxation shrinkage can be expected in use and cleaning
- Read and save accompanying care information
To Keep Your Leather Looking its Best Between Cleaning
- Wear a scarf to protect the collar area from body oils and perspiration. Heavy staining of any kind and ground-in dirt is not a friend of leather.
- Allow leather to air-dry away from heat if it gets wet.
- When you’re not wearing it, keep it in a cool ventilated area. Leather can dry-out or mildew if stored in a hot or humid environment. Leather like the same comfortable environment that you like.
Never leave leather in a plastic bag.
It’s a natural animal hide-not a piece of fabric, so, even with the latest and best care technologies, some change of appearance can result. When you purchased your leather garment, it probably had a hangtag that emphasized the nature of the variances in color and textures as characteristics that make each garment unique. That’s a nice way of summarizing the following information.
- Hides from different areas of different animals are used. A good manufacturer tries to match hides, texture, weight, and color with uniformity. But variations may be accentuated after cleaning.
- Scar tissue and vein marks are inherent to natural hides. It is typical that scar tissue or other imperfections are ‘filled’ before dyeing. The result is cleaning may reveal these imperfections.
- Naturally occurring wrinkles are made less noticeable by the leather tanner through a special process. These wrinkles may reappear over time with natural ageing. The agitation of cleaning can accelerate this condition.
- The danger of overstretched hides – When cleaned relaxation shrinkage in one or more hides will cause a change in the dimensions of the garment. In most instances, when you wear your garment this snugness should dissipate, once again conforming to the size and comfort you enjoy. Snugness can also occur over time, as the various hides tend to return to their most natural dimension.
- Poorly formulated construction adhesives can dissolve during cleaning causing shaded areas. This is most often noticeable around seams and hems.
- Spots and stains. Protein stains such as blood, egg or milk are, at best, difficult to remove from a natural hide because leather is also a protein. Dyes used to re-color a garment typically will not completely cover the stain. Saturated ink stains are virtually impossible to completely remove. Our leather specialist always tries to go as far as possible to remove as much as possible.
- Chemical burns. Spots appear as puckered areas with a hard center. Caused by contact with moisture combined with heat or other staining substances containing salt, this circumstance results in permanent damage that cannot be reversed.
Tips On Silk
In an emergency, should I use club soda to treat the stain?
First, there is nothing special about club soda as a stain remover agent. If you are attempting any do-it-yourself stain treatment just remember this: BLOT, DON’T RUB. Silk will chafe easily or develop light areas if rubbed while wet. Get the garment to us ASAP.
- Apply perfume, cologne, deodorant, and hair spray before dressing to prevent color loss and staining.
- Exercise great caution with household products. It’s almost a sure-fire way to ruin a terrific garment if left untreated.
- Never use chlorine bleach or products containing chlorine on silk. It will permanently change the color.
- Store garments in a dark area. Long exposure to sunlight or even strong lights can cause streaks and fading.
- Blot, don’t rub silk when wet.
We have the experience and knowledge to carefully clean all of your silk garments.
Silk garments are no longer limited to high-end designer labels or neckties. Everyday silk casual wear for men and women is very popular. We know because we clean a lot of silk garments. It drapes, looks and feels great. But, like other fabrics, silk is susceptible to conditions of wear, stains, and color loss.
Should I dryclean or wash my silk garment?
We know that silk responds well to drycleaning. Washing silk at home may result in shrinkage, limpness, and considerable fading. We recommend following the manufacturer’s care label instructions with a reminder that, in most instances, a garment with a washable label can also be safely drycleaned.
I did wash it at home and now look at it. Can you help me?
Regrettably, some ‘washable’ silk dyes do not react well to water. Oftentimes vibrant colors fade in washing, resulting in fading or multi-colored dyes will run into one another. We see it especially when light and darker dyed fabrics are combined. We routinely double check colorfastness before we begin any cleaning process. You should too when washing at home. From time to time, we can brighten faded colors with a special professional process. However, it is only a temporary fix.
Can you get the underarm stains out?
Well, yes and no. We know how to address this problem and we do. But, sometimes perspiration and other conditions of wear result in a permanent color change.
Also, contact with chloride salts weaken silk. In addition to perspiration, chloride salts are present in many types of beverages, food, medicines, and yes, salt water. The most common type of chloride damage is the result from perspiration or contact with an antiperspirant.
If you perspire in it, clean the garment as soon as possible. This may help avoid permanent staining, irreversible fabric damage, color loss, or color changes. Use of underarm shields may minimize some of these conditions.
It looks like the color is gone in certain areas. What happened?
Loss of color in localized areas usually occurs because the fabric came in contact with a substance during consumer use. Contact with any of the following can cause discoloration:
- Hand sanitizers
- Body sprays
- Deodorants and other consumer and household products
- Moisturizers and other skin care products
- Perfume or cologne
- Hair spray
- Home detergents and dish liquids
- Facial cleansers
- Products containing chlorine
- Mouthwash and other astringents
My sueded silk looks lighter in some areas and darker in others. What’s going on?
Sueded silk refers to a slightly brushed fabric finish which makes the fabric feel and look like velvet suede.
Areas that are repeatedly rubbed during wear may lose this finish, creating lighter areas or a shaded appearance. We typically see this occurrence in the seat, waist, inner thigh, elbows, or other areas of wear. The edges or folds at the lapels, hems, collar, and cuff may show loss of the sueded finish as well.
Home Dry Cleaning Kits
Drycleaning & Laundry Institute, the premier trade association for garment care, utilized its research and testing expertise to gauge the effectiveness of home drycleaning kits, and found that in general they do not provide complete removal of all types of stains. They also cannot remove ground-in soil. These products can freshen garments by removing odors and imparting a pleasant fragrance.
What do you get in a home drycleaning kit?
Garments are freshened when they are placed inside the dryer with the cloth, which is activated by the heat of the dryer. Up to four garments can be placed in a bag (along with the dryer-activated cloth) when using one of these products. The stain removal solution (which is dispensed form a plastic bottle) is applied directly on the stain, while the user holds an absorbent pad underneath the stained fabric.
Consumers are instructed to apply the solution until the stain is no longer visible or until it is evident that the stain cannot be removed. For kits that employ only a dryer-activated cloth, consumers are advised to use the cloth to remove stains. All kits recommend removing stains before garments are placed in the dryer.
What can you expect?
In general, most of the products work well on freshening or removing odors such as smoke. Therefore, these products can be successfully used to freshen garments; for example, removing odors from sweaters after winter storage.
In terms of stain removal, DLI found that most of the products work well on water-based stains such as cola. Stains that are oil-based (ketchup, lipstick) presented more of a challenge for the home drycleaning kits. In some cases, these products caused the stain to spread, which created a bigger stain. None of the products removed ground-in soils, which consumers typically see as "ring around the collar" or dirty cuffs.
Can home drycleaning kits cause damage?
When using a home drycleaning kit, consumers should beware of the following types of damage they could induce when using the stain removal solutions: rings, chafing, broken fibers on a loose weave, local shrinkage on crepe or water-sensitive fabrics.
DLI's testing found that home drycleaning kits failed to completely remove stains such as ketchup, lipstick, and cuff soil, resulting in a less-than-satisfactory appearance.
Home drycleaning Kits versus Professional drycleaning
Home DC Kit
Removes water-based stains (cola, wine, milk)
Removes oil-based stains (vegetable oil, shoe polish, butter)
Removes difficult stains (ball-point ink*, lipstick, makeup)
Cleans (removes dirt, body oils)
Restores creases and pleats
Imparts crisp, tailored appearance
*Ball-point ink stains may be set when initially treated with water-based stain removal solutions.
All About Shirts
You never get a second chance to make a good first impression. A fresh, laundered and well-pressed shirt is essential.
We successfully launder hundreds of shirts every day. And we are very good at it. But, like all things, shirts can outlive their useful life or exhibit other problems. Whether your shirts are store bought, custom-made, expensive,or inexpensive, the problems below identifies and explains are those we encounter from time to time.
“I can’t wear my favorite shirt anymore.” The Drycleaning & Laundry Institute tells us that the average life expectancy of a shirt is about 35–50 washes, or roughly two years. But even this will fluctuate depending on the amount of abrasion and strain placed on the shirt during wear, the fiber content, and how the shirt is constructed. Sometimes they simply wear out.
“Do you really have a person whose only job is to crack buttons?” No. But we do quickly check every shirt for cracked or missing buttons and replace them before it is returned to you. Do we sometimes miss a button? Yes. But should this happen, you need only point it out and we will immediately take care of it.
“It’s a brand new shirt and the color has run all over it! You must have washed it wrong.” The Federal Trade Commission’s Care Labeling Rule states that all components in a garment must withstand the recommended care procedures. If one or more dyes in a multi-colored shirt are not colorfast, bleeding will occur whether you wash it at home or we launder it for you. Significant dye failure is attributable to poor manufacturing and should be returned to the retailer.
“The collar and cuffs are full of wrinkles!” Puckering and excess fabric in the collar and cuffs is often the result of the interfacing shrinking leaving an overabundance of outer fabric. We can’t reverse this circumstance. The manufacturer is responsible for using interfacing that is compatible with the shirt fabric.
“What happened to my pinstripes?” At first glance it may look like color loss from bleach, yet a close examination will reveal that only the colored pinstripe yarns are missing, leaving a skeletal framework of the white yarns. Here’s why: the colored yarns were dyed with fiber-reactive or sulfurbased dyes that degrade with repeated laundering. As the shirt nears its life expectancy, the colored yarns can simply wash away.
“Why are the underarm stains still there?” Most damage in the underarm area is directly related to consumer use. Perspiration, if allowed to stay in a shirt will eventually stain and weaken the fabric. Aluminum chlorides, a key ingredient found in antiperspirants, also weaken the area under the arms. Frequent laundering after wear may minimize this type of damage.
“What are these gray stains on my sleeve seams?” Discoloration or gray or shiny specks on the shirt seams, collar and cuffs, or placket occurs when the shirt manufacturer uses excessive and improperly applied adhesive to fuse interfacings with the outer fabric. In most cases, prevention of this damage is not possible since it cannot be identified prior to laundering.
“You shrunk my shirt.” Typically, when a shirt is made, the manufacturer has allowed for two to three percent shrinkage by cutting fabric a little larger. Finished dimensions that exceed a pre-determined allowance may become too tight in the neck, too short in the sleeve length, and too tight around the middle. When this happens it is usually the result of poorly stabilized fabric and other elements of construction. There is very little we can do as professional cleaners that will cause excessive shrinkage.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires that garment manufacturers attach a label providing directions for at least one safe method of care. The care label must be easy to find, permanently attached, and remain legible throughout the life of the garment. The manufacturer must have a reason for the recommended care instructions and must warn about any part of the care method that would harm any component of the garment or other garments that may be drycleaned or laundered with it. A care label must also warn when there is no method for cleaning— these typically read: “Do Not Dry Clean,” “Do Not Wash.” The Care Label Rule applies to all clothing except: suede and leather garments, hats, gloves, socks, footwear, reversiblegarments, and household items such as draperies, linens, and upholstered furniture.
American Care Symbols
The Care Label Rule allows for the use of the American Care Symbol System. The symbols may appear along with or in place of written care instructions. We rely upon our professional affiliation with the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute as a resource for interpreting non-conforming instructions and symbols.
Common Care Label Terms and What They Mean
DRYCLEAN: Any drycleaning process can be used and may include moisture, pressing by steam or steam-air procedures, and drying up to 160ºF.
PROFESSIONALLY DRYCLEAN: The item may be cleaned by varying from a normal drycleaning process. The care label must provide specific instructions.
SPOT CLEAN ONLY: The only thing that can be done is stain removal without immersing or otherwise cleaning the entire garment.
HAND WASH: This is a gentle soaking process with very limited agitation by hand. Other information may include specific water temperature and drying requirements.
MACHINE WASH: This instruction indicates that use of either a commercial or home washer is acceptable. The type of cycle may be specified, such as a gentle cycle. Other information may include specific water temperature, drying requirements, and bleaches that can or cannot be used.
BLEACH: Care labels on washable garments will usually indicate if bleach can be used and, if so, which type is appropriate. Common terms include: “Do Not Bleach,” “Non-Chlorine Bleach Only,” or “Bleach When Necessary.” If the type of bleach is not specified, any type may be used.
TUMBLE DRY: Most garments have tumble or machine drying instructions along with recommended temperatures such as low, medium, durable or permanent press, hot, or no heat. If no temperature is recommended, the garment can be tumbled in a hot dryer.
LINE AND DRIP DRY: This instruction means that the garment should be placed on a clothesline or hanger when removed from the washing machine. If a garment is heat sensitive, the label may state, “Line Dry Away from Heat.”
DRY FLAT: Usually found on garments susceptible to stretching when wet (such as sweaters), this instruction entails placing the garment on a towel in order to absorb moisture as it dries or using a drying rack with an open grid that allows air to circulate completely around the garment.
IRON: If ironing is recommended, iron or temperature settings are usually stated. Instructions may include: “Cool/Low Iron,” “Warm/Medium Iron,” “Hot Iron,” “Iron on the Wrong Side Only,” “Steam,” “Do Not Steam,” “ Iron Damp.” If no temperature or setting is stated, the highest setting can be used.
Does Washable Also Mean Drycleanable or Vice Versa?
It may or may not. The manufacturer is only required to list one method of safe care no matter how many methods could also be used safely. And they do not have to warn if other methods would damage the garment.
Using a Care Method Not Specified on the Label
If a different care method is undertaken, there is some risk. We may, at times, suggest an alternative method based upon our knowledge, skill, or the type of soil or stains on the garment; or you may request a different method. Either way, we will carefully consider all options and advise you before beginning any requested process and may ask that you sign a release from responsibility form.
If There Is No Label
All garments sold in the United States must have a care label. An appropriate care label must also be made available when purchasing fabric that will be used for clothing. Removing the care label entails some risk since care information or warnings are no longer available.
What If There Is a Problem After Care Instructions Are Followed Exactly?
If a garment is damaged or ruined at home even though care instructions were followed, you should return the garment to the retailer. If the retailer is not helpful, you may wish to contact the state or local Office of Consumer Protection or locate manufacturer contact information on the Internet.
If the garment was damaged at our store, speak with us directly. If we did not follow the care instructions, we have a responsibility for the results. If we did follow the care instructions, we may be able to assist you with a settlement from the retailer. To make contact and resolution with a retailer go more smoothly, you should:
- Be prepared with a purchase record or an estimate of approximately when the garment was purchased
- Estimate of the number of times the garment has been washed or drycleaned
- State a resolution that would be satisfactory
We appreciate and value your business.
©2010 Drycleaning & Laundry Institute
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommend discarding contaminated garments resulting from sewage spills, groundwater runoff, or water from rivers or streams if they cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried. These items remain a source of microbial growth. Due to the amount of mold growth, very dark stains and large stains probably won’t be removed by any process.
Wear gloves when handling items contaminated with mildew or floodwater. When handling grossly contaminated items, wear goggles and an organic respirator in addition to gloves. Discard textile items such as pillows, stuffed toys, or clothing that have been in floodwater for weeks. The odors and contaminants may be so embedded in the items that they cannot be successfully cleaned.
Types of Fabric Damage
Mold and fungal growth can damage many fabrics. The affected areas may lose strength and will be further damaged by any mold removal process. However, fibers and fabrics don’t respond to mold in the same way—reactions vary by type.
- Cellulose fibers such as cotton, linen, ramie, and rayon will be weakened by the mold if it has been allowed to remain in the fabric.
- Rayon of all types is very easily damaged by mold, and soils increase the ease with which mildew forms on the fabric.
- Mold won’t damage acrylic fibers, but mildew growth can cause severe stains.
- Polyester isn’t damaged by mold, but mold may attack some finishes making it difficult to restore the item.
- Mold may discolor acetate fibers and result in some weakening of strength.
- Wool has good resistance to bacteria and mildew. However, if left untreated, mildew can eventually destroy the fiber.
- Wool that has been subjected to certain types of bacteria, moisture, and soil for long periods of time will decompose.
- Silk resists attack by mildew and most other bacteria and fungi.
Saving Washable Clothing and Household Items
The first step is to separate salvageable items that cannot be washed from those that are washable. Wear gloves when handling these items. For items that can’t be washed, see the section on cleaning non-washable clothes and household textiles on the second page of this fact sheet. For washable items, do the following:
- Take all items outside.
- Rinse off any wet or muddyitems.
- Allow all items to dry and shake out dried mud and dirt.
- Drying in the sun will help prevent the growth of mildew.
- If your laundry equipment is no longer safe to use, you will need to take the items to a laundromat or dry cleaner to be cleaned.
Washing Well—A Step-by-Step Guide
The following are recommendations for washing salvageable, washable clothing and household textiles.
- Be sure water supply is clean and safe.
- Use hot water, the recommended amount of heavy-duty laundry detergent, and 1/2 cup of water conditioner sold in grocery stores.
- Do not overload the washer.
- Use a disinfectant in wash water to kill bacteria, mildew, and other microorganisms. According to the CDC, the word “disinfectant”and an EPA registration number must appear on a cleaning product label if the product meets the standards required as an effective disinfectant.
- Use chlorine bleach if safe for fibers and dyes of fabric. Chlorine bleach can cause rust stains to appear on fabrics if there is a large amount of iron in soil deposits or water. Fill the washer with water and add the bleach before putting in the laundry, or use the automatic bleach dispenser on the washer.
- If chlorine bleach is not safe to use with some of the textile items, use another type of disinfectant, such as one of the pine oils or other types of disinfectant products. Look for brands that carry a manufacturer label statement indicating the product is safe to use for laundering textile items.
- Wool, spandex, nylon, and silk fibers are damaged by chlorine bleach. Hydrogen peroxide may help remove stains if the item can handle cleaning in water.
- Never mix bleach with ammonia or ammonia-based cleaning products—the combination creates toxic fumes.
- Work in a well-ventilated area when using any cleaning product.
- Use the regular wash cycle and high water levels. For permanent press or synthetic fabrics, use the permanent press cycle.
- The heat of tumble-drying also helps kill germs, so tumble dry items on the regular drying cycle. If drying in automatic dryer may cause excess shrinkage, hang these items in the sun to dry.
- Use appropriate detergents and safe disinfectants for items that require hand laundering.
- Ironing also helps kill germs on cellulose-based fabrics (cotton, linen, ramie, rayon) and blends of cellulose fibers with synthetic fibers (polyester/cotton).Steam pressing helps kill germs in items that are air dried away from the sun.
Cleaning Non-Washable Clothes and Household Textiles
After separating out the items that cannot be washed, do the following:
- Take the items outside.
- Brush off any wet or muddy items.(Don’t rinse! Water could have an adverse affect.)
- Allow all items to dry and shake out dried mud and dirt.
- Drying in the sun will help prevent the growth of mildew.
- Take the items to a dry cleaner to be cleaned.
The solvents used in dry cleaning, the flushing action, and the steam used in the finishing process are effective in reducing bacteria to safe levels. However, dry cleaning alone will not remove water-soluble impurities left in the items or the stains caused by mildew or fungal growth. Therefore, full restoration may be impossible on these items. Treatment with ozone will also kill fungal growth, but the remaining stains will require additional treatment.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Textile and Clothing Laboratory has identified four categories of products that can be used to disinfect home laundry. Follow the manufacturers’recommendations for use and be sure that the product is designed to be used for laundry.
- Pine oil disinfectants such as Pine Sol, Real Pine, Spic-n-Span and Lysol Pine Action. They should be added at the beginning of the wash cycle.
- Phenolic disinfectants such as Lysol.
- Chlorine bleach.
- Quaternary disinfectants aren’t as readily available as other products. One example is Amway’s Pursue.
Not all colored fabrics are created equally. Although color performance has improved with modern technology, failures may still occur. Here are some things that we have to be aware of.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires manufacturers to attach a permanent care label to textile garments providing directions for their care. That care label is intended to provide both consumers and garment care specialists guidance on how to care for a garment. A garment labeled “Dryclean” should have dyes that can withstand drycleaning, and “Washable” garments should have dyes that will perform well when washed.
The best way for manufacturers to determine care procedures is through testing. Unfortunately, this is not always done and sometimes can mean less than satisfactory cleaning results.
Here are some tips to ensure the best color performance of your garments:
- Always read and follow care instructions.
- Protect white and colored garments from excessive exposure to light.
- When in doubt, ask us before you do anything.
Washable & Water-Based Dyes
Some dyes are water-soluble resulting in discoloration when laundered or exposed to rain, perspiration, or water. Since many stains require water and water-soluble agents for removal, even drycleanable items should have water-resistant dyes.
Water can also cause problems with sizing that is applied during manufacturing to provide body in fabrics such as rayon. Water spills may cause sizing to migrate and form dark rings or streaks as they dry. This occurrence is particularly difficult to remedy on drycleanable fabrics because it requires additional water to remove the sizing disturbance.
Color Loss in Drycleaning
A dye that is soluble in drycleaning may fade during care. If two or more dyes have been used and only one is soluble, there is a good possibility of a dramatic color change. For example, if a yellow dye component of a green garment were to break down, you could be left with a blue garment! There is no way of knowing this in advance. Another dramatic example of color failure could be a blue garment that retains its color, while its blue and white surface-print may fade so that the blues no longer match. Occurrences such as this example are rare, but they can happen in the first cleaning or progress with each subsequent cleaning.
Fading may occur in household items such as bedspreads and draperies. Often the fading may not be noticeable until the item is compared with a matching item. We recommend that all matching items be drycleaned or laundered at the same time to ensure color uniformity.
Dye Deterioration from Light and Chemicals
Most dyes eventually fade with exposure to sun or artificial light. Color failure may occur rapidly on exposed areas of garments such as shoulders, collars, and sleeves. Particularly sensitive are blue, green, and lavender dyes, especially those used on silk or wool fabrics.
Common household substances can also be culprits of color loss. Be careful not to expose fabrics to alkaline toiletries such as toothpaste or shampoo. Hairspray, perfume, and deodorant contain alcohol which may cause color loss on silk or rayon. Even the acidity of lemon juice affects some dyes. Color loss as a result of these situations might not be visible until after the garment is cleaned. Bleach, a component in many household cleaning products and skin or hair preparations, is one of the most common causes of color loss and fabric damage.
Fact and Fiction
Our business depends upon keeping your clothing looking its best. Yet misinformation continually creeps into media reports. Here are the facts regarding the most frequent areas of misinformation.
Spots and stains allowed to remain without treatment will gradually oxidize, set, and become permanent. We are trained and equipped to deal with stains, and if anyone can safely remove them, we can.
Don’t iron stained or soiled clothes trying to get just one more wearing out of them. Ironing dirty clothes will set stains and drive soil deeper into the fabric. Not good.
Never put a garment away with a stain on it. Stains containing sugar and even small amounts of any food are a tasty treat for insects, leading to holes from eaten fibers. Also, putting clothes away without cleaning them almost guarantees some discoloration or oxidation of stains.
Drycleaning will remove perspiration and body oil. That’s a good thing because these two elements contribute to stains and fabric degradation – and will eventually produce a lingering odor if left untreated.
In more than 100 years of textile research and testing, the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute has never seen any indication of the various drycleaning processes wearing out fabrics during a useful lifespan. Failure to have a garment professionally cleaned on a regular basis can result in an unusable or ruined garment with stains, holes, odors, or fabric distortion.
FICTION – Pricing discriminates against women.
FACT – Prices are based on our costs of doing business without regard to gender, race, color, religion, marital status, age, national origin, or sexual orientation, of the person who owns or wears the garment.
We strive to charge the same for all garments of a similar type. However, customer care associates are instructed to check closely for any detail that may require specific handling requirements and to charge for that item accordingly.
FICTION – All stains can be removed.
FACT – No they can’t.
Whether it’s a new garment or a treasured, well-worn garment, everyone hates it when they spill something on their clothing. We understand, and will always use our best efforts to make that accident go away. Sometimes it’s pretty easy – sometimes not. Either way, we have the professional expertise to do the job. Successful stain removal depends largely on the nature of the stain, the type of fabric, and the colorfastness of the dye. Some fabrics and dyes simply will not withstand the use of cleaning or stain removal agents. Some stains, like ink and dried paint for example, can be impossible to remove.
FICTION – Care labels are always correct.
FACT – No. Most manufacturers never test garments before the required care label is attached.
Understanding and following care label instructions is almost an art – requiring a combination of knowledge of care symbols, instructions, and practical experience.
The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Care Label Rule does not require testing before care instructions are assigned to a garment – only that a manufacturer have a ‘reasonable basis’ for their care instructions. Further, they are not required to provide instruction for the best care procedure – simply one that works. Sometimes it’s right and sometimes it’s wrong. We always attempt to alert our customer to a potential problem beforehand.
FICTION – The damage is your fault because it was just fine when I brought it in.
FACT – We strive for error free operation, but mistakes can happen. When we’re wrong we will make it right.
Statistics from the International Textile Analysis Laboratory (ITAL) demonstrate that the overwhelming majority of problems are the result of improper care instructions or damage that is not readily visible. We sometimes rely upon a determination from ITAL to resolve where responsibility should be placed.
Wrong Care Instructions – In general, the safest way to clean an item is to carefully follow the care instructions. If damage occurs after following the manufacturer’s recommendations, then rightfully, the manufacturer is at fault.
Consumer Related – Occasionally chemical damage occurs as the result of use and wear, but it remains invisible and unknown until the article is cleaned. In cases like these, the flexing of the fabric during cleaning causes already damaged fibers to fall out, leaving holes or a loss or change of color. The usual culprits are perspiration, alcohol, bleach, various acid and alkaline-based products, salt, and hair preparations.
Household Damage – Environmental conditions can cause damage to fabrics. This may include surface soiling from an accumulation of smoke, dirt, and dust or direct exposure to sunlight or artificial light. Discoloration or degradation of fabric may not be evident until these contaminants are removed.
FICTION – Shirts (and sometimes other garments) don’t shrink.
FACT – Yes they can if the material has not been properly preshrunk or some other element of construction has not been properly stabilized.
When it begins, shrinkage usually becomes progressively noticeable. Typically, manufacturers consider a two to three percent shrinkage factor acceptable. But when shrinkage or some other element of construction exceeds this factor, the result is shrinkage around the chest, sleeves, and neck. This is a problem associated with manufacturing and is beyond our control.
FICTION – Drycleaning harms the environment.
FACT – The drycleaning industry is possibly the most heavily regulated small business in America. Air and water regulations are comprehensive and farreaching. Safe operating practices, handling, and disposal of any chemicals entail strict monitoring and enforcement measures.
Your wedding gown is one of your most precious possessions. It is a symbol of an important event in your life and, as such, should be treated with special care.Whether you are borrowing it from a relative or buying it new, your gown deserves your attention, both before the wedding and afterward.
Today’s bridal gowns are made from a wide variety of fabrics. The gown you have selected may be satin, taffeta, chiffon, organza, brocade, and lace, and accented with delicate trims, such as beads, crystals, sequins, embroidery, silk flowers, and appliqué, all of which require special care.
We've had the privilege of caring for gowns of every type and style, however it is important that we inspect your gown carefully and discuss problems or concerns you may have before cleaning and preparation of the gown for safekeeping. We would like the privilege of completing this care and suggest that the cost of our services be included as part of your wedding budget.
Wearing an heirloom can make your special day that much more memorable. Allow at least a month for professional care as well as any alterations. Typically older gowns need more attention than newer ones because many fabrics naturally yellow with age and old stains may not respond to our professional treatments. Before you decide to wear a cherished heirloom, allow us to assess and discuss the pros and cons with you.
After the wedding whether having worn a new gown or a cherished heirloom, most brides want to preserve their gown as the most outwardly visible symbol of that special moment in time as well as perhaps preserving the opportunity for their own daughter to wear on her wedding day. That’s why it is important to allow us to clean and repair rips and tears as soon as possible and before storing. Stains cause fiber damage and become more difficult to remove the longer they remain on the fabric. You may think your gown has no stains and is okay to put away without cleaning. Don’t do it. Food and beverage stains (perhaps not even immediately visible), body oils, and make-up, if not carefully addressed as soon after the big day as possible, may prove impossible to safely remove—even by our skilled personnel. Drycleaning & Laundry Institute experts confirm that a gown once worn should be carefully cleaned before it is stored.
Your gown requires specific cleaning instructions and special care. The Federal Trade Commission’s Care Label Rule requires your gown to have accurate care instructions addressing all parts of the gown, including decorative trim, beads, and sequins. We strongly advise you to examine the care label before purchasing your gown to make sure you understand the care instructions. If you have a question, ask us before you buy the gown. We will do our very best to adhere to those instructions and will complete our testing prior to cleaning. Gowns that fail to withstand the prescribed care procedure must be dealt with at the retail level.
Together we can preserve that special lifetime moment. After we have completed our services, here are our suggestions for maintaining your gown.
If you are storing the gown on a hanger we’ll return it to you with straps sewn to the waistline to relieve pressure on the shoulders from the weight of the skirt. Although you will receive the gown encased in protective plastic, Drycleaning & Laundry Institute and museum conservators recommend that you remove the plastic, stuff the bodice with white, acid-free unbuffered tissue paper, and wrap the dress in a protective white sheet or unbleached muslin covering.
- If you have selected storage in one of our specially constructed gown boxes, your treasure will already have been carefully stuffed with white, acidfree, unbuffered tissue paper to prevent wrinkles. As long as the headpiece does not have a metal wire frame or colored flowers, we will enclose it with your gown.