Recycling has been a normal practice in the dry-cleaning industry long before it was considered a paramount activity toward the preservation of the environment. Dry-cleaners follow guidelines that allow them to keep waste to a minimum, taking advantage of used solvents and even unclaimed garments! The following are an example of how cleaners recycle:
Contrary to a popular misconception, frequent dry-cleaning may actually extend the useful life of a garment. Since stains get harder to threat overtime, and accumulated dirt and oil affect the fibers’ integrity, keeping your garments fresh and clean will do wonders to maintain them in a wearable condition.
It often depends on the garment. Cleaners tend to follow the suggested care instructions found on the label of the clothes. However, the fact is that the Care Label Rule only demands to mention one suitable method or care. If you want your “washable” pieces dry-cleaned, the cleaner will usually ask you to sign a waiver.
The proper care of leather and suede involves the use of procedures and additives especially designed to avoiding color loss and maintain textures. To reverse the effects of color loss suede and leather sometimes can be redyed, but matching the original colors is not always possible.
Good professional cleaners have control over the dry-cleaning process and garment shrinkage is very rare.
Unless the bag is made of fabric, the recommended practice is to store the garments uncovered. The plastic bag you receive is just to protect your garments until you get it home.
The care instructions that any garment has on its label are the suggested method of care by the manufacturer and the cleaner will follow that recommendation when possible. Nonetheless, the cleaner can determine if a piece can be safely wet-cleaned by looking at several aspects such as fabric construction, colorfastness, fiber content, trims and others.
The following are some tips that can help you protect your investment in professional cleaning services:
Stains caused by clear substances, food or beverages, which are not visible immediately like white wine, for instance, are very important to treat quickly and properly because heat or the passage of time can make the stain set. It would help your cleaner to do a better job to tell them of any invisible stain you think could exist.
Silk and wool garments are particularly susceptible to perspiration stains. Perspiration and body oils, when left in a garment can lead to discoloration and strong odor. To delay the effects of perspiration, frequently worn garments should be cleaned regularly to avoid impossible to remove stains.
Numerous substances to which consumers are in contact almost every day can cause discolorations. This is a tricky subject because some of those substances only make color loos evident after the garment has been cleaned. The following is a list of the usual suspects for discoloration:
Sometimes the best way to ensure that the dry-cleaner will be able to do his job is to practice some basic principles:
Issued in 1972 and amended in 1984 by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Care Label Rule requires manufacturers and importers to list at least one method of safe care of textile garments. That information must be presented in the form of a permanent label attached to the piece.
In addition to being easily located, the Rule stipulated that the labels must remain legible during the garment’s lifespan and must not separate easily from it. Besides the suggested method of care, the label also may contain information concerning complementary instructions, often represented as symbols, or specify if any part of the recommended care method could be damaging to the garment or other garments being cleaned with it. In the cases where there is no method for cleaning the garment without damaging it, a warning should appear to state that.
Removing care labels is not a recommended practice. The method of care and other important information that they contain can be of great assistance to you and professional cleaners concerning the proper care of the garments. Therefore, removing or losing the care label could have a negative impact on the garments useful life.
Dry-clean. This process uses normal dry-cleaning fluid which can be combined with moisture, hot tumble drying (160o) and some forms of steam pressing. The equipment is standard commercial or coin-operated machines.
Professional Dry-clean. Professional cleaning uses processes and special methods that allow the control of variables such as moisture, heat and “no steam finishing”. The professional results can only be achieved with commercial dry-cleaning equipment.
Machine Wash. This term refers to the use of either commercial or home washing machines. Depending on the sophistication of the equipment employed is possible to control variables such as size of the load, drying procedures and washing temperatures.
Importers and manufacturers are only required to list one method of care for a garment even when there could be other safe methods of care available for a piece. For that reason, sometimes garments labeled as “washable” can be dry-cleaned safely but if it is not specified in the label, cleaners tend to ask for consent before applying any procedure.
If you or your cleaner follow the information and recommendations that the garment specifies in the care label and the garment is damaged, there are a few things you can do. In those cases, you should return the garment to the store and in case they do not solve the problem, you should ask for the manufacturer’s information and write to the company detailing the issue.
In addition, you should send a copy of the complaint to the Federal Trade Commission, c/o Correspondence Branch, Washington, D.C. 20580 to keep them informed and able to detect patterns or practices requiring their attention. You should also write to them in case you purchase a garment with no care label attached.
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