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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Home Stain Removal

Over the years, we’ve shared a number of stain removal tips – from ice cream to mustard to strawberry jam, and we’ve tried to educate you on the different types of stains and knowing when to say when.  One thing we’ve said time and again is that there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ stain remover.  And as much as I share all this information with you, I am always one to try to remove a stain at home before bringing it to A Cleaner World.  My husband would tell you that it’s because I don’t like to be beaten;  I’ll tell you that it’s the mom in me – you know, I try to fix everything.

The truth is that there have been many times I’ve looked at a stain and the fabric and immediately determined it was beyond me.  When it comes to instances like a stain over a really large area, delicate fabrics, and heavy-duty grease, I don’t bother.  But many small, every day, common stains can be removed at home, and we recommend that you follow these general guidelines before proceeding.
  • Address all stains as soon as possible to prevent the stain from setting into the fabric.
  • Always read the care label before trying any stain removal method or products.
  • If you’ve never made any stain removal attempts on the garment, be sure to test for colorfastness first.  Just apply a small amount of the agent to an unexposed area of the garment, let it stand for about five minutes, then rinse.  If there is no color change, then it’s fine to use the product.
  • Never rub a stain.  Doing so could cause the stain to be worked deeper into the fabric.  Instead of rubbing, blot the area to help remove the substance without causing it to spread.  Rubbing is especially a no-no when dealing with a silk garments.  In fact, I never care for silk at home.
  • After spotting and laundering the garment, check to see if the stain has been removed before placing the garment in the dryer.  The heat from the dryer can cause the stain to permanently set into the fabric.  If the stain is still there, repeat the cleaning process or bring it to us. 
  • Never iron a soiled garment or a garment with a stain.  Again, the heat from the iron could cause the stain to permanently set.
  • Be mindful of oil-based stains.  Many times they dry invisible, so you won’t even notice them when pre-treating in preparation for laundering.  With time or after cleaning, they tend to turn yellow or brown and become even more difficult to remove.
  • Avoid being overly aggressive when trying to remove stains at home; too many attempts can lead to color loss or damage to the garment. 
If you’ve made an attempt at home and cannot get the stain or spill to come out, drop it by one of our locations.  When you do, point out the stain and tell us about your removal attempts, and we’ll be glad to take it from there.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Cleaning Up After a Pet

In August, we welcomed this little girl into our family:


Her name is Macy, and she is a rescue dog.  The process to adopt a rescue dog through the organization we chose was a bit involved.  There was the application, the background check, the references, and then finally we started meeting dogs.  But the biggest hurdle was Matt; Gray and I had to do some tall talking to get him to agree to a pet.  One of his reasons for voting against a pet was the mess it would possibly create.  Knowing what a clean freak I am, he was worried that I would drive myself even crazier trying to keep our house spotless.

While it’s true that I am a clean freak, I actually think I’ve handled the addition of Macy’s messiness quite well, and I don’t think I’m having to clean more than I did before.  Here are some tips to keep your home clean while having pets.   
  • Stop dirt at the door.  We leave an old towel hanging on a hook in the mudroom, and we wipe her feet whenever she comes in. 
  • Grooming.  I read that brushing your dog a couple times a week can help reduce shedding.  Brushing your dog outside will keep you from having to clean up the mess inside and will also help with airborne allergens.
  • Cover your furniture.  Or better yet, keep your pets off the furniture.  I know that can be a challenge, but we’ve trained Macy to stay off the sofa.  I will admit, however, that if I’m going to be gone less than an hour, I’ll leave her out in the house instead of putting her in her kennel and will throw an old sheet over the sofa in case she’s tempted.  Also, if you have dog hair on your furniture, try using a lint roller to remove it.
  • Dust, vacuum, and mop regularly.  While it would make sense to vacuum and mop regularly as pets typically mean more mess on the floor; but pets also increase the amount of dust in our homes.  If I look carefully around, I can see a few Macy hairs on the side tables and piano in our living room.  Dust first and then clean your floors; some dust will end up on the floor and vacuuming or mopping will pick up the remainder.
  • Tackle accidents immediately.  We’ve actually addressed this issue before, so here are links to blog posts on how to clean up pet urine and pet poo.
One final tip – A Cleaner World recommends that you have your rugs professionally cleaned every 12 – 18 months to keep your rugs looking great, but if you have pets, and especially if your pets have had a few accidents, you may want to have your rugs cleaned a little more often.  If you have questions about this, please feel free to give Greg a call at 336-804-0045.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Storing Winter Clothes

Spring will officially be here in 5 days, and there is not a person in the world that’s happier about that than me.  Not only am I a warm weather person, I like spring and summer fashions way better than fall and winter.  But even though I don’t love my cold weather fare, I do want to keep them looking good for next season, so while we’ve discussed this before, we want to share reminders on how to properly store away out of season clothes so that you don’t have any unexpected surprises down the road.
  • Make all repairs, like sewing sagging hemlines, replacing missing or secure loose buttons, mending split seams, before washing or cleaning garments.
  • Be certain that everything has been washed or dry cleaned before putting it away.  Clear spills and invisible stains will darken with time, making them more difficult to remove later.  Plus, dirt, perspiration, body oils, and food or beverage spills are invitations to insects.
  • Never store garments in hot attics, damp basements, or garages.  Instead choose areas that are cool, well-ventilated, and free from natural and artificial light.  The ideal location would be a cool, dark closet.
  • If you store your garments in a closet, simply drape a sheet or cloth over your things to protect them from dust and light.  If you are storing your clothing in another climate controlled area, place wool garments in cedar chests or other airtight containers.  To keep pests away, place cedar chips or blocks inside containers.  Mothballs also discourage pests, but they can leave a strong odor on clothing. 
  • For things like suits and dresses, hang on good quality hangers and place inside of garment or canvas bags.  Never hang knit items because the weight of the garment on the hanger will lead to distortion.  Instead, fold things like knits and sweaters and wrap them in white tissue to help reduce wrinkles.  If you do choose to hang knits and sweaters, fold them over the cross bar of a strut hanger.  
If your home is like mine and is limited on storage space, you can always store your out of season garments at any A Cleaner World location.  To learn more about our storage service, click here.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Restoring Stuffed Animals after a Fire

On December 21st, when most of us were dealing with holiday festivities, the Watkins family was dealing with a tragedy – a home fire.  Thankfully they were out when it happened, but a fire started in their chimney and quickly spread to the attic, causing a fair amount of damage to the home but more importantly, a great deal of smoke and water damage to their personal items.  Jan said they lost a number of items but she estimated that about 50% of their stuff was salvageable.  Initially, she tried washing many of her everyday things in hot water only to find that caused shrinkage, so she and her husband, Thad – a Thomasville City Fireman, decided to take their nicer garments and textiles to the A Cleaner World in Thomasville, and they in turn sent them to our Fire Restoration Division.  Mike, of course, quickly cleaned much needed items and returned them to the family within two days, and he and his crew then continued working on the rest of their order.

Here’s where the story takes a sweet turn, for in the balance of their order was this little fellow.


In the photo above, he is on the way to our warehouse to be cleaned and made smoke-free.  Jan purchased him before their daughter Finlee was born just because he was soft and she liked him, and as Finlee grows, each month Jan takes her photo with the elephant to see Finlee’s progress.  Finlee is now 9 months old but has sadly missed two photos with the elephant because of their family tragedy.  Because this little guy is so important to the Watkins family, we’ve taken a special interest in him.  We also decided to take a few photos to show his family how he went from sooty and smelly to clean and fresh:
















As we lovingly restored him back to his like-new condition, we kind of got attached to ‘the elephant’, so we started including him in our daily activities.  Here he is hard at work:









As you can see, he is very talented and capable.  We’ve had such a good time with this little guy, and we are happy to say that the Watkins family has the rest of their stuff and is doing quite well.  The community really rallied around them and helped them get set back up in a different place.  Jan is hopeful for the future.  She said their plans all along have been to save money and build a new home, and they are continuing on that path.  “The important thing is that we weren’t at home,” she went on.  “I could be sharing a different story if we had been.  But things can be replaced, and I now have a new understanding of what others in similar situations have been through.”

A Cleaner World Fire Restoration is so thankful that we were able to help the Watkins family and that they are on the road to returning to some normalcy.  “The Fire Restoration business is such a personal business,” said Mike Feudale, Manager of A Cleaner World’s Fire Restoration Division.  “Customers trust us to bring their intimate, personal things back to life, and we can’t begin to put into words just how much we appreciate the confidence folks like Jan and Thad and others put in our abilities and the treasures they allow us to care for.”



Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Caring for Bedspreads

We only use our bed comforter for show; I purchased it solely because it went with a specific chair that I wanted to use in our bedroom.  Every night, I remove the comforter, fold it up, and lay it in the corner.  In the morning, I make the bed up and place the comforter back on, topping it with decorative pillows, and smile as I walk away because I like the way the room looks.  I take great care of this comforter because I don’t want to have to invest hours (again) in trying to find another one that goes so well with the room.  You’re thinking, just have it cleaned.  But the truth is that I’m concerned about shrinking and fading; even if I follow the care label and use the proper cleaning procedure, it could fade or shrink.  Why is that?  Many times, comforters are finished with a special glaze to give them a nice shine or are colored with dyes that are not colorfast to both dry cleaning and washing.  After they are cleaned, by either washing or dry cleaning, they may appear streaked, have an overall dull appearance, or experience light fading that is noticeable when place with matching items that haven’t been cleaned.  Then there’s the batting on the inside that can get clumpy. 

Sadly, comforters and quilts aren’t covered by the Care Label Rule, so how do you go about making sure they continue to look lovely over the years?  Look for quality when purchasing:
  • Check to make sure there is a care label and read the care instructions.
  • Find out if the bedspread has been preshrunk. If it wasn’t, then it could shrink even during an acceptable cleaning method, which could cause it to not fit properly and to look too small.
  • If you are thinking of purchasing a down or fiber-filled comforter, make sure they are well-quilted, with stitches that run both vertically and horizontally with quilting lines running about 8-10” apart.
  • Check to make sure the stitching is strong and secure.  Loose stitching will allow the filling to shift during cleaning.
  • Read the label to see what kind of batting the comforter uses; wool batting can shrink and distort if washed in a washing machine.
When caring for your bedspread or comforter:

  • Remember that light exposure over time will lead to color fading.
  • Clean any spots or spills immediately to prevent them from becoming permanent.
  • Before washing or having items cleaned, make sure there are no loose stitches, cuts, or tears.  When a quilted item gets wet, it gets heavy and small imperfections can turn into larger ones.
  • Follow the instructions on the care label.  If there is no care label, take it to a professional.
  • Wash or have all matching items cleaned together to ensure they will continue to look uniform.
  • If you are concerned about color loss, take it to a professional so they can test an inconspicuous area to see if it might possibly fade.
  • Bedspreads and comforters that are filled with heat-sensitive fibers can pucker or shrink during the cleaning process or if the items was not preshrunk, even if the instructions are followed exactly.  A professional dry cleaner can test an inconspicuous area to see if this could happen to your bedding. 
The bottom line is that if you are in doubt, check with a professional dry cleaner.  A Cleaner World has 32 locations throughout North Carolina and Virginia, and we would be happy to take a look at your bedding and offer advice or simply just take care if it for you so that you don’t have to worry about it.
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