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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Why You Should Give A Kid A Coat

Did you know that children are less able to regulate their body temperature than adults?  Because of this, a child’s body temperature can drop much more quickly than in adults, leading to hypothermia.  Further, newborns are even more susceptible to hypothermia because of their large surface area per unit of body weight, small amount of subcutaneous and brown fat, and inability to shiver. 

How do children avoid hypothermia?

a.  Never leave the house
b.  Move to Florida
c.  Wear the appropriate clothing when going outside during the winter

Silliness aside.  Obviously having your child (or children) wear the appropriate clothing outside during winter would be the choice of every parent, but some parents must make hard choices.  Buy the kids coats or buy food?  Buy the kids coats or pay the heating bill?  Buy the kids coats or pay for medicine?

Here’s where my happy voice comes in.  Not because I’m making light of any difficult situation, but because we have Give A Kid A Coat.  For 31 years, folks in the Triad, Triangle, Roanoke, and Blacksburg have been checking closets for coats their children have either outgrown or no longer wear, and they graciously donate them at any A Cleaner World location.

Generously donated coats piling up in a blue A Cleaner World bin

Coat donations for North Carolina's Needy
Then our fantastic staff cleans, presses, and makes minor repairs to the coats.

A Cleaner World staff member cleans donations so they are ready for new owners

Give a Kid A Coat is one of A Cleaner World's favorite events
The folks at The Salvation Army pick them up, take them to their distribution points, and then are available to help as folks come in to select a coat.
A Cleaner world partners with the Salvation Army to provide warmth to Kids who need it
A Cleaner world can handle any number of size, material or mess
A mixed child with a grey hooded sweater, a new coat and a toy basketball
Down filled coats make for excellent protection from the elements
Our collection of coats grows every year, donate today to help our community stay warm!
Give A Kid A Coat is such a fantastic program not only because it helps keep folks warm in the winter, but also because it just seems to bring out the best in everyone.  Neighbors that donate coats walk away with a warm feeling; staff members that work hard to pull the campaign together, clean coats, or distribute coats happily work extra hours knowing how the coats bless others; and those that receive coats, well just looking at the photos tells you all you need to know.

The 2018 Give A Kid A Coat campaign kicks off at the A Cleaner World located at 2527 Eastchester Drive on Friday, January 5 and runs through February 10.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Common Holiday Table Cloth Stains

Red and White Tablecloths require very different cleaning processes
There are so many wonderful things that surround any holiday, whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, July 4th, or even a birthday, and that’s the fun and fellowship with family and friends around the dinner table.  There’s nothing better than sitting down at a long table, filled with yummy food, surrounded by people that you love, eating, telling stories, and laughing.  Sadly, there’s that moment when we all look around at the damage we’ve done and realize that someone (more likely several someone’s) is going to have to clean up the mess.

We have this standing joke at my parent’s house that whoever messes up mom’s tablecloth first is the one stuck with the job, and the best part is when they get caught making the mess, the catcher yells, “you goobered.”  Then the harassment begins.

Somewhere, someone is going to lose and be stuck with the cleaning up chore, so we’ve compiled a list of common table cloth stains that you may encounter this holiday season and have included tips on how to care for them at home.  Of course, you could always take them to a professional, telling what the stains are at drop off, so you don’t have to mess with them.  After all, we remove these sorts of stains all the time.
  1. Candle Wax – First, let me just point out that one way of avoiding getting candle wax on your nice table cloth is to not place and light candles on your table cloth.  We generally advise not to place burning candles on flammable surfaces.  But I know that someone somewhere in this world is going to ignore my advice.  In that case, gently lift off the larger pieces, treat with a solvent-based stain remover, and wash in the hottest water that’s safe for the fabric.  Check to see if the stain has been removed before placing it in the dryer.
    A glass of red wine is wonderful for the holidays, terrible for your tablecloth
  2. Coffee and wine – Move quickly by blotting with a plain white cloth or paper towel to draw out as much as the liquid as possible. Never rub.  Once the meal is over, rinse the area from the back with cool water, treat with a mild detergent, and launder according to the care label’s directions.  Check to see if the stain has been removed before placing it in the dryer.
  3. Salad Dressing – Oil-based stains are difficult to remove at home because grocery store pre-treaters cannot break them down.  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. Cranberry – Rinse the area from the back with cool water, then treat with a mild detergent and white vinegar before washing.
Two words of caution here.  First, time is of the essence; it is best to wash stained items or take them to a professional dry cleaner as soon as possible.  The longer you let stains sit, the more difficult they are to remove.  Second, don’t try too many attempts at stain removal before taking it to a professional; it is possible to try too many times and ultimately pull the color from the item or damage the fibers.  Once that happens, there’s no fixing it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

How to Care for Christmas Tree Skirts

I am not emotionally attached to our Christmas tree skirt.  I can’t tell you where or when I purchased it; likely because I picked it up right after Christmas when it was on clearance.  But for some folks, their Christmas Tree skirt is a valuable, sentimental treasure perhaps because it is a family heirloom, a special gift, or an unusually expensive purchase.  Whatever the reason, Christmas tree skirts, even if they were purchased on clearance, should be handled with care.

Unfortunately, there are no step-by-step instructions when it comes to caring for Christmas tree skirts.  Because they are typically embellished with beads, sequins, lace, felt, quilted, multicolored prints, and decorative trims, they cannot be safely laundered or dry cleaned.  Eventually they will get dirty, especially if you have a live tree or perhaps a critter that likes to lay underneath your tree.  So
A Christmas Tree skirt under the tree, sans gifts, plus beagle
here are a few things you can do at home to keep your Christmas tree skirts looking festive:
  • Always follow the directions on the care label.
  • If you spill water on your tree skirt, carefully blot the area dry with a clean, white cloth or paper towel.
  • If you need to remove a stain or spill, test an inconspicuous area before attempting to remove the actual stain to see if there is any color bleeding or color loss.
  • Local stain removal treatments may be the only safe way to clean tree skirts, and it is possible that stains may not be able to be removed without damaging the skirt.
If you have questions or need help with your Christmas tree skirt, bring it by one of our locations to see if our stain removal experts can help. 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Purchasing and Caring for Down Items

A large white freshly cleaned down comforter
In March we wrote on caring for bedspreads but heavily insulated comforters, sleeping bags, and garments can pose a challenge to clean thoroughly. Down, a natural product, and fiberfill, a polyester fill, are both terrific products to help keep you warm; the problem comes in when the item is poorly constructed. This is especially true when it comes to inadequate quilting because that can cause the filling to move around or lose its shape. 

What specifically should you look for when purchasing down items?  Below are some tips:
  1. Check the quilting.  Quilting stitches should run vertically and horizontally with quilting lines about 8” – 10” apart.
  2. Check the construction.  Make sure the stitching strength is strong.  If the stitching is loose, then the down or fiberfill will shift.
  3. Check for fullness.  Thicker filling means more insulation.
We recommend taking down and fiberfill items to a professional dry cleaner for two reasons.  First, A Cleaner World’s staff has been trained in the best practices for bedding and to say we have experience handling these items would be an understatement. Second, many times down and fiberfill items are large and bulky, which can lead to overfilling, spills, and sections that weren’t fully saturated by detergent.       

If you choose to care for down and fiberfill items at home, we recommend the following:
  1. Follow the instructions on the care label.  Keep in mind that these items might take a longtime to air dry.  If the care label indicates that it is safe, tumble dry keeping the temperature below 140 °F (medium heat) to prevent shrinking.
  2. Always clean the item and repair any tears, snags, or broken fasteners before storing it away for the season. 
  3. Never put it away before it is completely dry; doing so will lead to mold and mildew issues. 
  4. Store in a cool, dry, dark space that isn’t subject to extreme temperature changes. 
  5. Finally, don’t compress the item or place it in plastic bags while in storage.
Of course, A Cleaner World is always available to answer any questions about down and fiberfill garments, comforters, and sleeping bags, or any garment for that matter.  Simply call or stop by one of our locations.  We are always here to help.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Caring for Sweaters

Me in a gray knit sweater with an ACW expert
I have oodles of sweaters; that’s because I am forever cold.  In the spring and summer, I carry around a cardigan sweater, that matches my outfit of course, because I freeze in the air conditioning.  In the fall and winter, I wear multiple layers, usually ending with some sort of sweater on top.  But not only do I love sweaters because they keep me warm, I also love them because of the variety and style they can add to any ensemble.

There are so many styles and fabrics out there plus many sweaters have decorative trims and embellishments; therefore, sweaters require special attention.  If you have a sweater with trims like suede, leather, snakeskin, fur, sequins, or beads, we suggest you take it to a professional for cleaning or at the very least for advice before cleaning it on your own for the first time; many of these features require special attention.

If you’d like to care for your sweaters at home, we recommend using these general guidelines:
  • Before washing or dry cleaning, check your sweater for any unraveling, fraying, and loose yarns and have the problem mended before cleaning.  Proceeding with cleaning before mending any issues could lead to further unraveling or damage.
  • Always follow the instructions on the sweater’s care label.
  • If the care label indicates it is fine to tumble dry, then do so on the lowest temperature possible.  If not, then lay the sweater out flat to dry.
  • As with any garment, always treat stains immediately.
  • If you are concerned about shrinkage, make a pattern of the sweater by tracing its outline on a piece of brown paper.  This will allow it to be blocked back to its original size should it shrink.
  • Never put a wool sweater (or any garment for that matter) away wet.  First allow it to dry at room temperature, away from heat, then brush with the nap.
  • To store sweaters, either fold them over a strut hanger or fold and place in a drawer or on a shelf.  Never hang a sweater from the shoulders; the weight of the sweater will cause it to stretch.
If you need help caring for your sweaters, feel free to stop by one of our locations.  We are happy to answer any questions you might have, and we will, of course, be there to provide the best care for all your garments, including your sweaters.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

5 Ways to Help Reduce Clutter

Son Gray with a yellow kids stethoscope to add yet more clutter
A few weeks ago, Matt’s dad was in the hospital; Gray and I were visiting when a nurse came in and offered to show Gray around and answer any questions he might have.  I loved that he really wanted to go see other patients, check out the monitors, and ask questions.  But then the thought occurred to me; the last time this happened, he came home with a pile of hospital supplies.  Sure enough, it happened again.  More stuff. More clutter.

With two ‘collectors’ in my house, I am forever battling clutter.  Here are some tactics I use to help reduce clutter in my home:
  1. Just say no.  My first tip is – don’t let the stuff come into your house.  Unless you are absolutely, positively, without-a-doubt sure that you cannot live without it and will use it every day of your life, then don’t even bring it home.  If you haven’t had this widget before and didn’t miss it, chances are you can live without it now.  I say no to my child – a lot.
  2. Purge.  If it did make it into your house, then how often do you use it?  If I use something regularly, say weekly, then it has a home, like a cabinet or closet, somewhere in our house.  If it is a few times a year, then it goes in the storage room off the bonus room or in our shop.  If I haven’t used it in over two years, I donate it.
  3. Get rid of multiples.  I once asked my husband, ‘How many blade screwdrivers does a man need?’  He turned around and asked me, ‘How many pairs of khaki pants does one woman need?’  Point taken.  I am down to three pair.
  4. One in, one out.  I’ve mentioned in past blog posts that I adopted this plan, but in particular, I really apply it when it comes to home décor and my clothing.   
  5. Evaluate your décor.  I don’t have tons of knick-knacks, photos, and mementos on display.  Limiting the number of things you have out helps keep the room from looking cluttered; it also helps when it comes to cleaning time – less to dust.
To me, clutter=chaos=stress; the less clutter in our home, the more relaxed I am.  If you have tips on how you keep your home clutter-free, please share them with us on Facebook, Twitter, and G+.  

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Cleaner World is More Than a Dry Cleaner

A Man buttoning the top button on a very white shirt in a very white background
Whenever someone asks me what I do for a living, I usually cut my explanation short by saying ‘I’m a blogger’.  If the person seems interested, then I provide a little more information by saying something like ‘I do social media marketing for a family-owned dry-cleaning chain that has stores in North Carolina and Virginia.’  Most of the time, unless we are at a function that requires you to sit around and chat, that’s about as far as I get.  But recently I found myself talking in great detail about A Cleaner World and my job.  That’s when I figured out that I’d been selling myself and my company short.

The thing is, A Cleaner World is way more than a dry cleaner.  Sure, we take in dirty clothes, remove the stains, press them into crisp perfection, and return them in pretty packaging, but have you thought about A Cleaner World in the following three ways?
Khakis being folded after proper cleaning and pressing at A Cleaner World

  • Image Maker – Have you ever placed a pair of khakis that you ironed next to a pair of khakis that A Cleaner World professionally finished?  The difference is astounding, and that’s because the two processes are completely different.  (Follow the link on professionally finished to find out how.)  You know, we all have our own individual style, but stop and think about how you feel when what you are wearing is crisp, clean, and professional looking versus looking a bit disheveled.  A Cleaner World takes disheveled and turns it into wow, bumping your individual style to a crisp, clean, personal brand. 
  • Time Saver – The one thing we all seem to run short of is time.  Ironing is one of my least favorite tasks, and it seems I’m not alone.  I checked several sites and found relatively close numbers on all, stating that 70-76% of the population claims to hate ironing.  When I take my clothes to A Cleaner World, I drop them off dirty and then pick them up in impeccable condition – no more ironing!  It’s not just ironing, check out all the ways A Cleaner World saves you time: folded dress shirts, replaced buttons, alterations & repairs, wedding gown cleaning and preservation, uniform rental & commercial services, rug cleaning, and fire restoration.
  • Happiness Maker – Along the lines of no more ironing and other time-stealing tasks, several articles came out in August sharing the fact that ‘Money Can Buy You Happiness.’  The study showed that people that do spend money on time-saving services are less stressed and more satisfied overall.  Who knew that having to care for your clothes could dampen your mood?
A gentleman in a navy suit and tie with matching handkerchief
Stop by one of our locations to see how we can help you create a personal brand, save you some time, and, most importantly, make you incredibly happy.
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