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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Are There Garments That Shouldn’t Be Dry Cleaned?

Several years ago, we did a blog post entitled “Smarter Than the Label”, which talked about A Cleaner World’s philosophy of knowing when to follow the care label and knowing when to use a safer, alternative cleaning method.  Recently, I ran across the photos I used in the post, and I started thinking.  I don’t know if your brain works this way, but typically one thought leads to another which leads to another, and suddenly, I am half way to the South of France.  This time, however, I managed to stay on topic, and I started wondering if there were garments that shouldn’t ever be dry cleaned.  Seems the answer is ‘yes’, and that led me to more thoughts.

How can you tell if a garment shouldn’t be dry cleaned?  
  • Check the care label, and if it says, ‘do not dry clean’ then it likely shouldn’t be dry cleaned.  But keep in mind that garment manufactures are required to provide a reasonable basis for all care instructions and warnings.  The instructions are not hard and fast rules, and sometimes following them can lead to undesired outcomes.  
  • If the garment is heavily beaded or covered with sequins, it more than likely shouldn’t be dry cleaned.  Most beads or sequins are not resistant to the dry-cleaning process or solvents and could dissolve or come apart when cleaned.  But that does not mean that A Cleaner World cannot clean the item for you; we have alternative cleaning methods.  
  • Fabrics that are made up of plastic, PVC, or polyurethane can’t hold up to the solvents used during the dry-cleaning process; again, A Cleaner World can offer an alternative cleaning method. 
What are some reasons not to dry clean a garment?  

  • If you take it to a professional and after examination, they determine that following a dry clean only label could damage the garment, then you might want to consider an alternative cleaning method.  
  • Some garments and fabrics simply respond better to professional wet cleaning.  
  • Whites usually turn out whiter and brighter when professionally wet cleaned.
What if a garment cannot be dry cleaned, but you aren’t sure you can care for it at home?  
  • Take it to a professional.  Just because you drop off your clothes at the dry cleaner, doesn’t always mean they are dry cleaned.  For instance, most men’s dress shirts are laundered and then pressed, and of course, we’ve already mentioned professional wet cleaning as an alternative cleaning method.

With almost 50 years serving folks in North Carolina and Virginia, A Cleaner World can handle any of your garment care needs.  Feel free to call or stop by any of our locations with your unique clothing care issues. 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Laundering a Men’s Dress Shirt

Have you ever wondered, even when no starch is used, how a man’s dress shirt comes back from A Cleaner World smooth and taut, but not stiff?  Here’s how it all works.

When a man’s dress shirt comes in, we examine it for stains, broken buttons, check the pocket, scrub the collar, and place it in the appropriate load for the requested starch level.  Then it is laundered.

Once the cycle is completed, the load is removed and then ‘shaken out’.

Here’s the most fascinating part – the shirts are pressed while still wet.  “That’s because we place them on a stainless-steel press,” said Steve Plantone, Manager of the A Cleaner World in Hickory.  “The heat and pressure from the press causes the shirt to dry and leaves the shirt with a smooth, satin-like finish, almost like there’s starch.”  Of course, if you like your shirts to stand on their own, like my husband, purchase a 100% heavyweight cotton shirt and ask for heavy starch.  The thickness and weight of the fabric determines how much starch the shirt will hold, and heavyweight 100% cotton shirts are the only shirts that can be heavily starched.  Either way, starch or no starch, your shirts will still come out incredibly smooth.
Laundering and finishing a man’s dress shirt this way leaves you with that smooth, taut finish we mentioned earlier, without any wrinkles or puckering at the sleeves or collar area, and with rounded or barreled sleeves – which is the industry standard.

Once the shirt is pressed to perfection, it heads to the inspection area where it is checked for pressing quality, broken or missing buttons, and collar stay and collar support insertion.  If all is well, it is bagged and sent to the line to wait for pick up.


On a side note I’m sure you are wondering ‘Why aren’t women’s dress shirts done this way?’  There are two reasons really.  First, it comes down to fabric.  Most men’s dress shirts are made of cotton or a cotton/polyester blend, while women’s blouses are made of less durable fabrics like silk or often have a small percentage of spandex in them.  Putting a garment with that type of fabric on such a hot press would damage the fabric.  Second, men’s dress shirts have varied little in style for many years.  This has allowed equipment manufacturers to design and build automated shirt presses that will fit most men’s dress shirts. Operating these automated shirt presses takes a whole lot less time and labor to properly finish a man’s dress shirt.  But if a man’s dress shirt comes in with silk or another more delicate fabric, we would clean and finish it as we do most women’s blouses.

With our almost 50 years in the business, state-of-the-art equipment, and attention to detail, A Cleaner World provides not only the best quality for men’s dress shirts but for all your garment care needs.  Stop by one of our locations to see what I’m talking about.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Common Office Clothing Stains and How to Solve Them

My brother-in-law is a welder and a mighty good one at that.  His ‘uniform’ is one of a few pair of grungy pants and long sleeve shirts that he peals off as soon as he walks into the back door.  They go in their own laundry basket and are washed separately.  He doesn’t worry if the grunge comes off because they are just going to get grungy again.  On the other hand, my sister is a school teacher, and like many of us, wants to look clean and crisp.  So, unless you are a welder, you’re likely to fall into that category with the rest of us – you don’t want to show up at work looking unkempt, but you’re going to have some mishaps, and it’s important to know how to handle them.

Let’s talk about General Guidelines first:
  • Never rub at a spill, doing so will push it further into the fabric.
  • Time is of the essence.  Act quickly because the longer the spill sits on your clothes, the harder it is to remove.
Now let’s address specific Common Office Stains:

  • Marker and Ink -  These are common stains, especially when you work in some sort of office-type environment.   Our first piece of advice is to wait and address it when you get home; many times, a mark or a smudge can be treated with a grocery store spotter and laundered according to the directions.  But if it’s a leak from an uncapped pen, it’s highly possible that the stain cannot be removed.  Instead of trying something at home first, leave it alone and drop if off at any one of our locations as soon as possible.
  • Coffee – Sometimes it’s a little dribble from missing your mouth; other times, you accidentally knock over an entire mug, and it ends up covering your lap.  Whichever it is, coffee can sometimes be a difficult stain to remove because coffee with cream and sugar is a combination stain because there are three components in the mug.  You might be able to spray the stain with a good-quality pre-treater and then launder according to the care label’s directions.  If that doesn’t work, then try soaking in warm water with color-safe bleach, then laundering according to the care label.  Always check the area to make sure the stain has been completely removed before placing the garment in the dryer.  The heat from the dryer will set the stain.
  • Chocolate -  The afternoon munchies always get me, and that’s usually when I head for something chocolate.  Inevitably, unless it’s M&M’s, I end up with little chocolate shards sprinkled on me somewhere.  The best way to handle chocolate mishaps is to take an item with a blunt edge to gently scrape off the excess once it’s dry.  Once you are at home, turn the garment inside out and place under running water to help remove additional pieces (that’s assuming the garment is machine washable).  Then apply a stain remover or some liquid detergent to the area, gently massage in, then let set for a few minutes.  Wash the garment according to the care label’s directions, making you sure to check to see if the chocolate has been removed before placing it in the dryer.
The list continues with things like dry erase marker, copy toner, highlighters, soda; it’s all in a day’s work.  Luckily, A Cleaner World is an expert at stain removal, so anything you are uncomfortable with or unsuccessful with addressing, we will gladly pick up where you left off.  Just be sure to point out the stain at drop off; the more we know, the more likely we can remove the stain successfully and easily.
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