All clothes become soiled in use and sooner or later they will require cleaning to maintain their appearance, as well as for hygienic reason. Everyone will be familiar with washing with water and soap powders but dry cleaning remains a mystery. Dry cleaning is the use of organic solvents to remove soil and stains from fabrics. It is called dry cleaning because the process contains little or no water. When washed in water, natural fibres such as wool and silk can shrink, distort and even lose colour, because the dry cleaning process does not ‘wet’ the fibres, these problems are unlikely to occur. Synthetic fibres such as polyesters also respond well to dry cleaning. Dry cleaning solvents actually dissolve and remove grease and oil stains. Water by itself cannot do this. Other stains require specialised treatment to remove them, known as spotting. Whilst many can be removed quickly with steam, others require a high level of professional skill and expertise from the cleaners. Dry cleaning does not cause creasing or distortion, neither does it remove unwanted creases or restore the loss of shape caused by wear. The skilled dry cleaner, by steam pressing, will be able to re-shape the garment, replace the required creases and eliminate unwanted wrinkles. The term ‘dry cleaning’ is generally understood to cover the whole process of cleaning in solvent, spotting and pressing, carried out in sequence. Competent Dry cleaning covers more than just cleaning, it is many different operations; all performed by skilled people and aimed at giving your garments as near new appearance as is possible.
The procedures include: • Checking the garment for a care label which will give cleaning instructions and fibre content • Classifying the garment according to fabric type, colour and degree of soiling • Selecting and carrying out the correct cleaning process • Removing marks and stains • Replacing water repellent and re texturing agents when necessary • Pressing the garment with steam to restore its original shape and appearance
Even the most Competent Cleaner is not able to:
Remove years of ingrained dirt and grime – Frequent cleaning will eliminate this problem Remove all the stains – The nature and age of the stain, plus the colour and construction of the fabric, sometimes make stain removal impossible Recover worn or torn areas – In some cases, small holes can be rewoven, but this is the owner’s responsibility Prevent holes – Caused by insect or acid spillage. Such holes may not appear before dry cleaning, but they result from previous weakening of the fibres.Once again, small holes may be rewoven Remove shine – caused by excessive heat and pressure used in home ironing Correct the effect of poor home stain removal – such as excessive rubbing Frequently asked Questions
Q: Is dry cleaning good for clothes? A: Yes. It removes grit, dirt and grease that can damage the fabric if left in it too long. Dry cleaning not only prolongs the life of the garment, but keeps it looking smart for as long as possible.
Q: Should I inform the cleaner what has caused the stain? A: Yes. The quicker stained garments are taken to the cleaner the better. Some stains affect fabrics permanently if they are left unattended to long.
Q: Should I have all matching pieces cleaned together at the same time? A: Yes. If all pieces are cleaned together any colour loss is likely to be uniform and variations will be minimal. However beware! There are exceptions, some two pieces are made as separates and different cleaning instructions may be found on each piece. If this is the case, advise your cleaner.
Q: Does dry cleaning shrink clothes? A: No. Not if the dry cleaning process has been carried out correctly in accordance with the care label.
Q: Are Suede’s and Leathers cleaned in the same way as other garments? A. No. A professional cleaner is skilled in keeping his solvent clean, and following proper dry cleaning procedures your garments are returned free of all smells.
Q: Can I store my clean garments in the plastic wrapping they are returned in? A: The wrapping provided by the cleaner is to protect the garment until you get it home. It is always best to store garments uncovered.
How you can help to get the best from your dry cleaner?
Have your garments cleaned regularly Bring the garment in for professional care as soon as possible after staining occurs Discuss any stains with your dry cleaner and be especially sure to point out light coloured spills Avoid garment contact with solutions containing alcohol, such as perfume, as this can cause colour loss Protect your garments, especially silk, from excessive perspiration as this weakens silk fibres Allow deodorants and antiperspirants to dry before you dress Protect your garments from prolonged exposure to direct sunlight Do not iron stained clothes, as heat can set stains.
The above information was complied by the Textile Service Association (TSA) as part of helping professional dry cleaners with customer service.