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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Smarter Than the Label

Recently, Alan Peatross gave me a lesson on the differences between pressing khakis at home versus at A Cleaner World.  Somewhere in the conversation he said to me – “we have to be smarter than the label.”  Of all my years working at A Cleaner World, I’d never heard anyone use that phrase.  I was intrigued.  Who coined that phrase?  Where did it come from?  Enter Mike Smith.

When Mike, our Vice President of Operations, started in the dry cleaning business some 25 years ago, 95% of the garments that came through our doors were dry clean only.  Period.  But over the years, fashion and fabrics have changed.  And while garment manufacturers and importers must provide a ‘reasonable basis for all care instructions and warnings’, we’ve found over the years that cleaning only by the label’s instructions can result in undesired outcomes.

Case in point –

A customer brought in a black and beige outfit.

The label said dry clean only.


But when the manager closely examined the garment, he found that a portion of the garment was made of polyurethane.  He immediately knew not to dry clean the garment.  If he had followed the manufacturer’s instructions, the polyurethane portion of the garment would have become brittle and would have cracked and broken into pieces like hard candy.
“The tag isn’t exactly accurate,” said Mike.  “Dry clean only means dry clean in any solvent.  What it should have said is dry clean only in petroleum-based solvents.  If it cannot be cleaned in any solvent then the tag is supposed to reflect that.”  When dry cleaning isn’t an acceptable method of cleaning, our alternative method is professional wet cleaning.  Cleaning clothes these days is so much more technical, but because Mike and our staff believe in “we have to be smarter than the label”, this outfit, along with countless others every single day, was cleaned successfully and returned to a satisfied customer.

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