Customer Corner


Dry-Cleaning is a Clean Business in more Than One Way

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:

  • Dry-cleaning Solvents. The recycling of dry-cleaning solvents is accomplished by combining several special processes, that include filtration, distillation, and drying, through which the solvent is restored to be crystal-clear and ready to be used again; even solvent vapors are recaptured and condensed back its liquid form.
  • Hangers and Garment Bags. Polyethylene garment bags and hangers are often recycled by taking advantage of programs sponsored by some supply distributors.

How Does Dry-Cleaning Affect The Lifespan Of A Garment?

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.

Can Garments Labeled As “Washable” Be Dry-Cleaned?

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.

How Do You Clean Special Garments Such As Leather And Suede?

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.

Will My Clothes Still Fit Me After Dry-Cleaning Them? Does This Method Skrinks Them?

Good professional cleaners have control over the dry-cleaning process and garment shrinkage is very rare.

Should I Store My Clean Garments Wrapped In The Bag They Are Returned In?

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.

How Safe Is It To Wet-Clean A “Dry-Clean Only” Garment?

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:

  • Act quickly. Concerning the effect of stains or soil on your garments, time is not your friend. If you leave your clothes filthy for too long it may be impossible to get back your garments to a pre-staining condition.


  • Give your cleaner as much information as you have regarding any stains. Discussing light colored or hardly visible stains are especially important to keep the lifespan of your garments intact.


  • Most toiletries and personal care products such as lotions, perfumes, and antiperspirants can affect the dying of your clothes. To prevent their negative effect you should allow them to dry before getting dressed.


  • Perspiration can also affect the dyes and cause discoloration. Make sure to protect your susceptible garments from your sweat, especially silks.


  • It is always a good idea to clean together bedspreads, drapes and other examples of matching pieces. This way, any potential color loss will be uniform.



  • Direct strong light or strong artificial light can affect the integrity of some dyes. When possible, keep your garments away from prolonged exposure to any of them.


  • Be careful when applying heat. Pressing stained or soiled garments can make things worse.

What About “Invisible” Stains?

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.

Perspiration Stains

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.

Garment Discoloration

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:


  • This is not restricted to only alcoholic beverages. Hair care products, colognes, perfumes, disinfectants, lotions, medicine, and general cleaning products contain some degree of alcohol that could affect the original color of a garment.


  • Have you ever seen a blue dye turn orange or white? Home bleach and other products that may contain it can create those effects depending on the types of dyes used on a fabric.


  • Usually invisible at first, stains caused by acids appear over time or with exposure to heat. From fruit juices to deodorants, hair products, and natural perspiration, if you see an orange or red discoloration in an area of a garment, contact with acid may be the cause.


  • Another typical cause of invisible stains. Personal care products, cleaning products, and sometimes, perspiration can cause yellow, green or cream color discoloration in some fabrics.


  • Wool fabrics are typically susceptible to stains when they are in contact with salty water from the ocean, snow or any other salty substances or products.

You Can Help Your Cleaner Do A Better Job

Sometimes the best way to ensure that the dry-cleaner will be able to do his job is to practice some basic principles:


  • If you do not want a stain to set, never store a stained garment in your closet. Heat and exposure to artificial or natural light are stain-setting contributors.
  • Time is of the essence. Sometimes the only way to successfully remove a stain is to treat it as soon as possible. Do not let more than a few days pass before bringing in your garment to your cleaner.
  • Applying heat to soiled or stained garments will only get thigs worse and harder to resolve. Do not iron filthy or stained clothes.
  • Test for colorfastness before attempting to remove any stain with water or any cleaning fluid.
  • Rubbing a stain is an especially damaging action, especially for silks. Blot the stained area; rubbing may spread the stained area.
  • Even when stains are no longer visible, giving information to your cleaners about the location and what you have used to treat a specific stain can help them to do their job more efficiently.

Let’S Start With Some Context

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.

Should Care Labels Be Removed?

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.

Cleaning Methods - Definitions

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.

Can The Garment Also Be Dry-Cleaned If The Care Label Reads “Washable”?

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.

What Could I Do If I Follow The Label’S Instructions And The Garment Is Damaged?

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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