You bring your clothes to your professional cleaner, drop them off with the person at the counter, and a few days later you return to pick them up looking as good as new. But what happens to your clothing in between? To many people, professional cleaning is a mysterious process and you may be surprised to learn that professional cleaning is a lot more than one process. In fact, your cleaner might employ a number of techniques to give your garments that "like new" appearance. Basically, professional cleaning can be broken down into three general categories - drycleaning, wet cleaning, and laundering. Let's take a look at what's involved with each process.
Drycleaning uses fluids to remove soil and stains from fabric. In fact, the term "drycleaning" is misleading; it is called drycleaning because the fluid contains little or no water and does not penetrate the fibers as water does.
Among the advantages of drycleaning is its ability to dissolve greases and oils in a way that water cannot. Natural fibers such a wools and silks dryclean beautifully, but can shrink, distort, and lose color when washed in water. Synthetic fibers such as polyester also respond well to drycleaning, while they can retain oily stains after washing. Drycleaning helps to return garments to a "like-new" condition using precautions to prevent shrinkage, loss of color, and fabric distortion.
The drycleaning process begins with the pretreatment of spots and stains using special cleaning agents. The garments are then loaded into a machine resembling an oversized front-loading home washer. It produces similar mechanical action to loosen embedded dirt. Throughout the cleaning process, the fluid is filtered or distilled to ensure its clarity. Distillation is the key to dry cleaning.
Based on the care label instructions and your professional cleaners's expertise, wet cleaning might be the best method selected for some garments. Since the 1972 Care Label Rule requires that clothing manufacturers only list one method of proper care even if other methods can be used safely, garments labeled "washable" may or may not dryclean satisfactorily.
Like in the drycleaning process, wet cleaning starts with the pretreatment of spots and stains using special cleaning agents. Wetcleaning is the professional process of removing soils from garments and other textile items through the use of water and additives (such as detergents) and using precautions to prevent shrinkage, loss of color, and fabric distortion.
Professional laundering for shirts and other "washable" items is another process your cleaner uses to keep your garments looking their best. Special detergents, additives, and finishes set commercial laundry apart from home laundering. This process enables your cleaner to offer consistent quality shirts at reasonable prices. Collars come, cleaner and the professional pressing affords a crisper finish.
If you request a method of cleaning that is not listed on the care label, your cleaner may ask you to sign a consent form showing that you accept the potential risks of cleaning the garment.
Professional cleaning involves many different operations, all performed by skilled people and designed to give your garments a fresh and clean appearance.
1. Checking the labels for adequate care instructions and fiber content.
2. Classifying the garment according to fabric type, color, and degree of soiling.
3. Removing spots and stains using special equipment, special stain removal agents, and water.
4. Drycleaning, wetcleaning, or laundering, only if so labeled.
5. Reapplying any sizing, water repellency, and other finishes when necessary and possible.
6. Finishing the garment on professional pressing equipment to restore its original shape and appearance.
7. Replacing missing or damaged buttons and performing minor repairs whenever possible, according to plant policy.
8. Packaging the garment neatly in a protective wrapping.
Here are some tips that can help you get the most from your cleaning dollar:
• Bring a garment in for professional cleaning as soon as possible after staining occurs. Stains and soil left too long can be impossible to remove and will shorten the life of your garment.
• Do NOT put anything on the stain if there is any possibility you are planning to bring the garment to the cleaners. This can set the stain, making removal impossible.
• Discuss any stains with your cleaner. Be especially sure to point out light-colored or invisible spills) such as those from soft drinks, fruit juices, or white wine. It is also important to point out and identify any other beverage or food spillage so that the drycleaner can treat the stain prior to putting the garment through the drycleaning process.
• Keep perfumes, lotions, deodorants, antiperspirants, and other toiletries from coming into contact with your clothes. These products likely contain alcohol, which can affect some dyes. Allow them to dry before you dress.
• Protect your garments from excessive perspiration, especially silks. Perspiration left on fabric can cause many dyes to discolor.
• Have matching pieces cleaned together, including bedspreads and drapes, so that any color loss will be uniform and the pieces will still match.
• Protect your garments from prolonged exposure to direct sunlight or strong artificial tight. Keep in mind that even normal lighting can affect some dyes.
• Don't press stained or soiled clothes. The heat may set some stains.
Q. Does frequent drycleaning shorten the life of a garment?
A. On the contrary, frequent cleaning prolongs the life of a garment. Not only do stains set with age, making the garment unwearable, but ground-in dirt and soil act as an abrasive, like sandpaper, causing rapid wear of fibers. Also, insects are attracted to soiled clothes and will cause further damage.
Q. When a garment's label says "washable" does this mean it cannot be drycleaned?
A. Not necessarily. The Care Label Rule states that only one suitable method of care must be on the label. Cleaners usually follow the care instructions, unless otherwise requested. If you want your washable items drycleaned, the cleaner may ask you to sign a damage waiver.
Q. Are suede and leathers cleaned the same way as other fabrics?
A. No. Special procedures and additives are used on leathers to help retain their color and texture. Sometimes suedes and leathers are re-dyed to replace color loss. It is not always possible to replace or match the colors.
Q. Does drycleaning shrink clothes?
A. No. The drycleaning process is carefully controlled by professional cleaners. Excessive shrinkage is usually caused by improper preshrinking by the manufacturer.
Q. Can the cleaner safely stretch fabrics?
A. Cleaners can steam-finish and stretch fabrics that have relaxed in drycleaning. This does not damage the fabric.
Q. Should I store my clean garments in the plastic bag they are returned in?
A. The bags are provided by the cleaner to protect the garment until you get it home. It is best to store garments uncovered or in fabric garment bags.
Remove certain stains. The nature and age of the stain, plus the color and construction of the fabric, sometimes make stains impossible to remove without damaging the garment.
Prevent some colors from bleeding or fading. If the manufacturer does not thoroughly test the dyes to make sure they are colorfast to both solvent and water, some color may be lost during the cleaning process. This is considered the manufacturer's responsibility.
Prevent excessive shrinkage. If the manufacturer has failed to adequately preshrink all component parts before the garment is constructed, shrinkage may occur.
Reverse worn or torn areas caused by wear, perspiration, damage caused by insects, or liquid spills. Such holes or rips may not appear before cleaning, but they result from a previous weakening of the fibers.
Prevent or correct holes caused by insects or acid spillage. Such holes may not appear before drycleaning, but they result from a previous weakening of the fibers.
Correct excessive shine on clothes caused by wear or extreme heat and pressure used in home ironing.
Correct poor home spot removal procedures such as color loss caused by excessive rubbing of delicate fabrics or color reactions or holes in the fabric caused by failure to rinse stain removal agents from the fabric.
If you have any specific questions you feel you have not found information on here, call us at (972) 713-7826 or email us.