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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Caring for Cashmere

When I put on a cashmere sweater, I don’t instantly think ‘goat’.  But I should because there is a type of goat – the Kashmir goat – in parts of Asia, such as Mongolia, Tibet, Northern India, Iran, Afghanistan, and Southwest China, that moult each year from March to May.  In the moulting process, they develop a mixture of coarse hair and fine undercoat.  At some point, the goats are shaved, the hair is processed, dyed, and finally woven into yarn.  The most interesting thing is that one Kashmir goat produces around 4 ounces of hair each year, and as a result, it usually takes 3-4 goats to produce one average-sized 2 ply cashmere sweater.

When I put on a cashmere sweater, I typically think about how warm, soft, and luxurious it feels.  Then I look in the mirror, and I admire how beautiful it is.  And with any luxury garment, it requires special care to ensure it retains its like new feel and look for years to come.  Here are some tips to help accomplish that:
  • Wait for deodorant, lotion, perfume, and hair products to dry before putting on your sweater.       
  • Use caution with purses, jewelry, belts, and seat belts because they can abrade the fabric and cause pilling, snags, and even a hole.
  • Don’t put or let anyone put an adhesive name badge on your sweater. (Just FYI - The same holds true for suede and leather items too.)
  • To avoid distortion, don’t push up the sleeves and use care if it is a pullover sweater so that you don’t stretch the neck area.
  • The best way to store a cashmere sweater is to fold each side of the sweater inward by a third, smooth the arms down, fold in half, and either place or a shelf or in a drawer.  Never hang a cashmere sweater because the weight of the fabric and the pull of gravity will cause shoulder dimples and overall distortion. 
Finally, follow the care label when it comes to cleaning the garment.  Cashmere sweaters are delicate items, and if you have any doubts, we recommend you take it to a professional

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

How to Decipher those Care Label Symbols

Before I start researching how, I often want to first know why.  For instance, why did someone decide to create symbols to put on a tag inside your clothes instead of just writing ‘machine wash cold water, tumble dry low heat until dry, immediately hang or fold’?  Here’s how the story goes: in the 1950’s, several textile conferences were held which resulted in the creation of GINETEX, the International Association for Textile Care Labeling, and they ultimately chose to use a symbol form of communication to avoid any confusion given that there are over 6,000 languages floating around the world. 

While that makes complete sense to me, I work in the garment care industry and even I don’t have all the symbols memorized.  And why should you have any of these memorized?  Unless you want to carry a chart around with you, you should know the basics to help you as you pick out new clothes, and these are the 5 you should recognize.

Each one has variances to them.  For instance, under wash there are subcategories with numbers or dots for temperature, an X for don’t machine wash, and a hand meaning hand wash.  But if you know these 5 basic symbols, you’ll be able to decipher if something is hand wash only, dry clean only, or cannot be ironed.  Sometimes the amount of care a garment needs can be a deciding factor as to whether you make the purchase or not.

More importantly, once you get a garment home, you need to know how to care for it properly, if you want to get more than just one use out of it.  This is the very reason why I have the following guide posted in my laundry room:


This guide has saved me from ruining more than one garment, and we hope you find it helpful too.  Of course, if there is ever something you are uncertain of, please feel free to stop by or call one of our locations.  Our garment care professionals are trained to understand these symbols and to provide the best care for all your wears. 

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Caring for Tights

I hate pantyhose; I’m certain that a man created them.  There’s something about the material that just makes my skin crawl, and perhaps it is because when I am forced to wear pantyhose, it’s usually in the summer.  I am thankful that these days we can mostly get by with wearing summer skirts and dresses with sandals or pumps and skip the pantyhose altogether.

But tights, well that’s a different story.  I love tights.  In fact, I broke my tights out when we had that little cold snap back in October.  While tights, as compared to other garments, aren’t terribly expensive (the brand I like costs about $15 a pair), the last thing you want to do is wear them 2 or 3 times only to find a run or hole in them.  Tights, with the proper care, can last a long time.  Here’s how we suggest caring for tights:
  • Never wash your tights in the washing machine, even if they say machine washable.  See the instructions below on how to hand wash tights.
  • Don’t wad them up in a ball and throw them in a drawer after you’ve taken them off.  Instead, fold them in thirds – neatly.
  • Put them on gently by sitting down, rolling up one foot at a time.  Avoid tugging and yanking.
  • Clear nail polish could get you out of a jam if you see a run starting while you are out and about.
  • Quality is important.  You don’t need to buy the most expensive pair of tights you can find but remember tights with Lycra and thicker fibers will stand the test of time better.
To hand wash your tights:
  • Fill a sink or basin with warm, soapy water.  Use a mild detergent.
  • Turn your tights inside out.
  • Place the tights in the water and gently massage them from top to bottom.
  • Drain the soapy water and rinse the tights in clear water until all the soap is removed.
  • Gently squeeze to remove most of the water, then pat dry with a towel.
  • Finally, hang them on a drying rack or even across your shower rod until they are completely dry.
  • Once completely dry, fold in thirds and place in a drawer.
Following these tips will help keep your tights looking great for the rest of the season.  If you have any questions, feel free to e-mail me at wildwednesday@acleanerworld.com.

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.
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