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Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Air-Drying Hands versus Using Paper Towels

I like touch-free public restrooms.  In my mind, I think they are cleaner than those where I have to manually flush the toilet, turn on the water, and push a button to get soap.  But when it comes to drying my hands, I don’t like using those automatic air-blowers.  When it’s time to dry my hands, I want to use paper towels; it’s completely a personal preference thing.  I’m impatient, so I never take the time to completely dry my hands when using the air-blowers, plus those things leave my skin feeling dry and needing moisturizer.

Here’s another reason to dislike those air-blowers: I found an article on webmd.com that stated that the air-blower hand dryers in public restrooms may spread more germs than using paper towels.  According to the article, British researchers conducted a study where they placed bacteria on the hands of volunteers, had them wash their hands and dry them using three different methods – warm air-dryers, high powered jet air-dryers, or paper towels.  Afterward, they measured the airborne bacteria levels and found higher amounts of bacteria around both air-dryers, with bacteria levels around the jet air dryers 4.5 times higher than the warm air dryers and 27 times higher than the paper towel holders.  Further, they found that bacteria hung around in the air long after the air-dryers were done being used.

Businesses typically choose air-dryers for drying hands to reduce the amount of time they need to spend replenishing supplies, emptying trash, and servicing their bathrooms, plus they believe they are more environmentally friendly.  But the truth is, you can still be environmentally friendly while using paper towels.  Here’s a start - Mike told me that all the paper that A Cleaner World Commercial Services uses is 100% post-consumer recycled.  Besides purchasing paper towels made from recycled materials, you could also: 
  • Put a separate bin in the restroom to collect paper towels because, while they typically cannot be recycled, they are compostable.  You could compost them yourself or work with a company that does that sort of thing.
  • Use a paper towel dispenser that limits the number of paper towels you can pull at one time.  Here are some options, all of which limit the number of towels dispensed at a time.
Georgia Pacific enMotion® Wall Mount Automated Touchless Towel Dispenser

Vondrehle Center Pull Dispenser
Vondrehle Mechanical Dispenser

  • Provide a paper towel that is thick enough to absorb most of the water so that folks use fewer towels.
  • Finally, all restrooms need regular servicing, and A Cleaner World Commercial Services, with the proper products, can help you reduce the amount of time spent servicing restrooms while keeping them more sanitary.
Depending on what type of business you have, your bathrooms could be used by employees only or both employees and customers.  Doesn’t it make sense to do your best to provide an environment where you reduce the spread of germs?  If your business’s bathrooms need some attention, give Scottie Springer a call at 336-870-6299 or send him a message.  He will be happy to help you reduce the amount of germs and bacteria that gets spread among your employees and around your place of business.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Back to School Preparation

Believe it or not, back-to-school preparation doesn’t begin the week before schools starts back up.  No, it begins, depending upon what part of the country you live in, anywhere from the end of August through mid-October of the prior year when you trade in shorts and t-shirts for jeans and jackets.  What I’m trying to say is that it’s so important to take care of clothing, including storing items away properly, to ensure they will last for more than one season.  Hopefully, you took the time to wash or dry clean everything to make sure invisible stains didn’t have the opportunity to yellow in time or be an attraction to moths or other insects.  We also hope you didn’t store garments in our plastic dry cleaning bags, which are not meant for long-term storage as they can trap moisture inside leading to mildew.   Instead of continuing, I will direct you to a blog we did last year on clothing storage tips so that we can move to present time.  Here’s where we are now:
  • Even if you had your kids try on their summer clothing when you pulled things out of storage, it might be a good idea to perform this exercise again before you head out for back to school shopping; we all know that kids can grow 6” in what seems like just overnight.  Just because it fit when school let out doesn’t mean it still fits.
  • As your kids try on clothes, check for possible hand-me-downs from older siblings.
  • Create two groups of clothing per child – one to keep and one to donate. 
  • As you place keep items back into closets and drawers, do two things.  First, organize garments so they are easy to find.  Hopefully this will help with the morning routine and cut down on your name being hollered dozens of times before 7 a.m.  Second, check garments to make sure that no repairs or touch-ups need to be made.  If they do, set them to the side to work on or simply drop them off at one of our locations and point out any issues.
  • Come up with a list of needs by child to help you stay on task and on budget.
  • Before you head out to shop, discuss budget limitations and uniform requirements with your kids to ensure a stress-free shopping experience. 
  • Start shopping now!  Most back-to-school sales begin in mid-July, and the longer you wait, the harder it may be to find needed items. 
  • Finally, don’t forget to ask for the classroom supply list before heading out.  My dad always said it is best to kill two birds with one stone. 
If you have back-to-school shopping or preparation tips that work for you and your family, please feel free to share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, or G+.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Picnic Stains

We all know that the purpose of Independence Day is to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, and I love the fact most of us celebrate it with a cookout or picnic, time with family and friends, and fireworks.  I have a thing for outdoor meals, especially when they are associated with a holiday; you can do all kinds of theme-related d├ęcor and food.  But there are always two things on the menu in the Mitchell home on July 4th – that’s burgers and corn on the cob.  Sadly, when I eat food like that while standing around or sitting on a blanket, I end up spilling something down my shirt.

I’d be willing to bet that I’m not the only one that struggles with this, so A Cleaner World has come up with a list of common picnic-related food stains and how to address them.
  1. Ketchup – Gently scrape off the excess and then leave it alone until you can work on it at home; keep in mind that scrubbing a spill pushes it further into the fabric’s fibers.  When you can spend some time on it, flush the area with cold water, running it through from the back side of the garment.  Spray the area with a grocery-store spotting agent and let it soak in for 20 minutes, then launder according to the care label’s directions.  Before placing the garment in the dryer, check to see if the stain has been completely removed.  If not, try soaking in some color-safe bleach before attempting to launder again.  If the stain is still there after the second attempt, then we recommend taking it to a professional.   Too many attempts could pull the color from the garment.
  2. Mustard – Mustard is an incredibly difficult stain to remove with the ingredients of mustard seed, color from turmeric, and liquid; it’s considered a combination stain that usually requires multiple steps. Trying to clean it at home will likely remove the dried-on portion, but the discoloration from the turmeric will remain.  If you want to try at home, here’s what we recommend.  Act quickly, addressing the stain as soon as possible.  Start with removing the excess, then rinse the stain with cold water, working the fabric with your fingers.  Try pouring a small amount of liquid detergent directly on the spill and let it sit for a few minutes.  Rinse and then see how much of the stain remains.  Next try applying a stain remover, letting it sit, and then laundering in cold water with detergent (provided the care label indicates laundering as the preferred method of cleaning).  Once the wash cycle is complete, remove the garment from the washer to see if the stain is still there.  If it is, do not place the item in the dryer as the heat from the dryer will set the stain.  If it is still there, we recommend taking the garment to a professional.
  3. Butter, Grease, Oil – Grocery store pre-treaters cannot break down oil-based stains; dry cleaning solvent is a degreaser, and any professional dry cleaner can remove this type of stain easily.  If you are determined to get this one out on your own, try treating the area with a liquid detergent that contains a degreaser, launder according to the care label’s directions, and check to see if the stain has been removed before placing it in the dryer. 
  4. Mayonnaise – Mayo is oil-based so try the steps in number 3, making sure not to place the garment in the dryer if the stain still persists.
  5. Ice Cream – Carefully remove the excess, then, assuming it is a machine washable garment, wash as soon as possible after the spill.  First, rinse the area with cold water, running the water through from the back of the fabric.  Second, treat the area with a liquid laundry detergent that contains enzymes or a color-safe bleach, and allow it to sit for 10-15 minutes.  Next, launder according to the care label’s instructions but avoid using hot water.  Finally, check the garment before placing it in the dryer to make sure the stain has been removed. 
Of course, A Cleaner World is always here to assist with any sort of stain challenge.  Just bring your garment by one of our locations, and we’ll be happy to offer advice or clean it for you.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

The Effects of Perspiration and Antiperspirant on Your Clothes

I like working up a good sweat when I run; it makes me feel like I’ve worked really, really hard.  But when I’m finished with my morning run, I shower and dress for the day, and then I’d prefer not to sweat at all again until the next morning’s run.  Unfortunately, given the time of year and the amount of time we spend outside, that’s not likely to happen.  So what do I do?  I load up with antiperspirant – sometimes a couple times in the same day.  This too can be problematic because most antiperspirants contain aluminum salts, a product that is designed to block sweat glands from producing sweat.  As the day wears on your antiperspirant wears down, rubs on your clothes, and eventually fails resulting in perspiration.  Over time, the aluminum salts combine with the minerals in sweat and both penetrate the fabric of your garments and discoloration begins to show.  But not only can perspiration impact the color of your clothes, if left untreated over time, it can actually weaken the fabric’s fibers (which could lead to tears).  Further, some fabrics are more susceptible to damage – like silk – than others.
 
So it seems we have two problems here; the impact of perspiration on our clothes compounded with the use of antiperspirant.  What do we suggest?
  • We sort of suggest giving up antiperspirant.  Take a look at the ingredients in your antiperspirant, if it contains aluminum chlorohydrate, which tends to clump in cotton and damage fibers, consider switching to another product – like an aluminum-free or neutral pH type of deodorant.
  • Allow your deodorant to dry before dressing, which may help a bit with getting too much of it on your clothes.
  • Wash or dry clean the garment right after wearing to remove as much of the perspiration and antiperspirant as possible.  Fresh perspiration is easier to remove than the dried, caked-on, yellow, crusty, old stuff.   
  • If the stain remains, don’t place the garment in the dryer or iron it; heat will permanently set the stain into the fabric. 
  • There are two soaking options.  First, soak garments in cold water and a dish soap that contains de-greasers straightaway.  After soaking, rinse, and wash according to the care label’s directions.  Second, soaking in a mild color-safe bleach could help, but never use chlorine bleach to try and remove a perspiration stain, particularly on white cotton garments.  The proteins from the sweat will react with the bleach and make the stain darker. 
  • Sadly, there are times when the damage is too much, and the garment is past being restored. 
If you have a garment that’s been adversely affected by perspiration and antiperspirant, please bring it by one of our locations, and let us take a look at it.  We are here to help.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Wearing a Vintage Wedding Gown

Did you hear about the bride, Abby Curtis that was the 11th bride in her family to wear a lacy Victorian 120 year old couture wedding gown on her wedding day?  It was originally her great-great grandmother’s dress, dating back to 1895.  Talk about some fantastic preservation work.  But she did go on to say, that because of its fragility, she only wore it for the cocktail party and to sign her official marriage license.  I cannot imagine how cool it would be to wear something with so much family history on such a special day.  According to the 2012 American Wedding Study, 46% of brides preserve their wedding dress for their children or grandchildren, and I suspect that number will continue to rise.

So how is wearing a vintage gown different from wearing a new gown? 

  • First, you need to consider what sort of condition it’s in.  Was it stored in an acid-free, museum-quality, archival wedding chest lined with fabric or acid-free tissue or was it covered by a plastic bag and sitting in someone’s closet?  If gowns are not stored in ideal conditions, they are likely to yellow significantly and have discoloration spots.  If you are thinking of wearing a vintage gown, take it to a professional dry cleaner and allow them to inspect it carefully.  After the review, discuss the options with your cleaner before moving forward.
  • Second, proper fit could be an issue.  When selecting a brand new gown, you have the luxury of finding the best size for alterations.  With a vintage gown, there are no sizing options – you start with what you have.  Do some research and find a seamstress that specializes in wedding gown alterations.  Taking the dress in is no problem, but what about letting it out?  There are lots of options here: you can let out seams and darts, add side pieces in the bodice and sleeves from the train, find matching fabric, or remove zippers and add a corset back. 
  • Finally, as with any gown, have it cleaned and preserved by a qualified specialist as soon as possible after your big day; the longer you wait, the less likely it is that all stains and spills can be removed.  My guess is since you’re wearing a vintage gown, then you probably want to keep it.  Then be sure to inspect your gown before it is put into the preservation container, which should be a completely acid-free, museum-quality, archival wedding chest lined with fabric or acid-free tissue.  And once you have the gown home, never store it in an attic or basement where there are extreme temperature changes and humidity.
With the proper care, your gown will remain the well-preserved treasure it is and will be safe, secure, and waiting for the next family bride that wants to wear it on her special day. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Flag Day

When I was a little girl, my dad was a member of the local Elks Lodge.  My sister and I spent plenty of time up there while my dad volunteered.  Sometimes it was fun because we got to get a Coke and a bag of M&M’s, and other times it was simply boring because we had to dress up and sit quietly while the adults talked --- for a really, really long time.  Like during the annual Flag Day ceremony; in the eyes of an eight year old little girl, it was torture.  If only I’d understood the significance back then like I do today.

Back then, I had no idea what the Elks Lodge was about; I had no idea about their involvement in Veterans programs, youth programs, and Americanism.  Looking back, it seems altogether fitting that an organization like this would like to acknowledge and show respect for the American Flag and all that it represents.  I searched for a photo of my dad at one of these ceremonies but was unsuccessful; however, my mom and I did find this one at the Elks Lodge in Mount Vernon, Indiana.  He's the handsome dude on the right in the super-cool jacket.


The thing is, you don’t have to be the member of a special organization to show respect for the American Flag.  One of the easiest ways to honor the American Flag and our country, is to keep its colors looking bright and strong, and the best way to do that is to have it regularly cleaned.  But don’t go thinking that you have to do this yourself because A Cleaner World cleans American Flags for free – every day.  We always have; we always will.  If it will fit in the machine, we’ll clean it for you.  No questions asked.  Just check out this huge flag we cleaned at our Thomasville location.


All you have to do is drop it by one of our locations, and we’ll gladly clean it for you and have it ready when promised – at no charge. 

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

5 Misconceptions about Dry Cleaning

  1. Frequent dry cleaning causes clothes to wear out more quickly.  Actually it’s the opposite.  First, dirt and soil that build up on clothes eventually acts like sandpaper and causes the fibers to wear down more quickly.  Second, products like deodorant, toothpaste, make up, and lotions end up on clothes.  If left for a long time, they can cause discoloration or color loss.  Third, insects are attracted to dirty clothes.  Placing dirty clothes back in your closet is like hanging a neon welcome sign for insects to start munching on dirty fibers.  Finally, spills that are left untreated for a long period of time become part of the fabric.  See number 2 for more information.
  2. All stains can be removed.  We’ve talked about this before and sadly they cannot, for various reasons.  First, a stain left untreated for a long period of time becomes part of the fabric, so if the stain can actually be removed, the fabric where the stain once was is now a different color.  Second, certain stains on certain fabrics can be especially difficult to remove without causing damage to the garment.  Third, not knowing what the stain is can make it more challenging to remove, and too many attempts at removal could again cause damage to the fabric.
  3. Garments don’t shrink.  Actually they can if the material hasn’t been properly preshrunk.  Most of the time, shrinkage occurs gradually.  Most manufacturers consider a 2-3% shrinkage factor acceptable, but if there’s a lot of shrinkage after the first cleaning, then that’s considered excessive shrinkage.  The bottom line is that shrinkage goes back to the way the garment was manufactured.
  4. The care label is always right.  Sadly it’s not.  In 1972, the Federal Trade Commission launched the Care Labeling Rule, which required manufacturers to label their clothing with instructions for at least one safe cleaning method.  But according to the Dry Cleaning Laundry Institute, ‘that 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.’  With our years of training and experience, we’ve learned that we have to be smarter than the label. 
  5. Dry cleaning harms the environment.  Perchloroethylene, the dry cleaning solution we use, is from the same group of cleaning supplies used in household cleaners and swimming pools.  While the dry cleaning industry is heavily regulated with high standards, A Cleaner World’s internal standards are even higher.  Not only do we continuously purify and recycle our cleaning solution to minimize waste and increase efficiency, we also regularly test air quality in our plants, keep our equipment running safely and efficiently, and recycle our poly bags and hangers.  A Cleaner World is committed to doing our part to keep the environment safe and clean.

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