When a garment’s label says “washable”, does this mean it cannot be dry-cleaned?
Not necessarily. The Care Label Rule states that only one suitable method of care must be on the label. Our drycleaners follow the care instructions, unless otherwise requested. If you want your washable items dry-cleaned, we may ask you to sign a damage waiver. Additionally, due to the large number of clothing manufacturers that do not thoroughly test cleaning methods on special garments, we may ask you to sign a waiver on items with beads, sequins or special decorations and most dry-clean only household items
Does frequent dry-cleaning shorten the life of a garment?
On the contrary, frequent cleaning prolongs the life of a garment. Not only do stains set with age, making the garment un-wearable, but ground-in dirt and soil act as abrasives, like sandpaper, causing rapid wear of fibers. Also, insects, some too small to be seen, are attracted to soiled clothes and will cause further damage that is often not apparent until cleaned.
How Can You Help Your Clothes and Comet?
- Bring your garments in for professional cleaning as soon as possible after staining occurs. Stains or soils left too long may become permanent.
- Discuss any stains when you drop your items.
- Keep perfumes, lotions, deodorants, antiperspirants, toothpaste and other toiletries away from your clothes. These products likely contain alcohol or hydrogen peroxide bleach which will damage some dye.
- Protect garments, especially those made of silk, from excessive perspiration, as this can cause dyes to discolor.
- Have matching pieces of an ensemble cleaned together so the dyes will remain uniform.
- Protect your garments from prolonged exposure to direct light.
- Don’t press stained or soiled clothing, as the heat may set some stains.
What is Dry-cleaning?
The actual cleaning process for dry-cleaning is similar to the washing process. Clothes are separated by weight, finish, and color. Heavyweight clothes are separated from lightweight clothes. Delicate clothes are further separated and cleaned separately. Finally, light colors and dark colors are cleaned separately. Clothes with spots are also separated for spot cleaning.
The clothes are cleaned in machines that look like large, over-sized front load washing machines. However, this machine requires cleaning solvent, which is used over and over and continually cleaned during the cleaning process by recycling the solvent through filters and distillation.
Two types of solvents are currently used for dry-cleaning; perchlorethylene (PERC) and petroleum. While both perform essentially the same function, their structures and properties are different. Comet Cleaners uses both types of solvents to maximize their benefit in different cleaning situations.
Solvents that are appropriate for use in dry-cleaning perform a number of functions. Dry-cleaning solvents dissolve solvent-soluble soils, such as oils, waxes, and greases. They also act as a carrier for insoluble soils. Solvents carry detergent, which in turn carries water to remove water-soluble soils. Lastly, in combination with mechanical action, solvents produce a flushing action on fabrics to aid in cleaning.
There are two types of dry-cleaning machines used in the industry. One type is the dry-to-dry machine, in which the clothes are put in dry and come out dry, ready to finish. The other type is the transfer unit, in which the clothes are cleaned and extracted in one machine and dried in another machine before finishing. Again, we use both types of machines depending on each situation so we can provide fast, convenient, and affordable service to our customers.
Finally, after the clothes are removed from the machine, they are checked for spots and additional cleaning is done if necessary. The clothes are steam pressed, inspected, and bagged to be returned to the customer.
What is Laundry?
Laundry is the processing of clothing that is most similar to what your washer does at home with a few exceptions. Everything from the water temperature and softness to the chemical balance of the detergent and starch are carefully monitored and adjusted to provide the best care for laundered garments. Clothing is not dried, but pressed on large presses that evaporate the water, further process the starch, and enable the garments to retain creases and the crispness.
Wear Life Expectancy
Determining how long a shirt should last is difficult due to the variances in frequency of wear. The number of launderings is a better measuring method. The average shirt should have a wear life of 35 to 50 washings. This will fluctuate depending on the amount of abrasion and strain placed on the shirt during wear, the fiber content, the type of fabric, and the starch preference.
Most dress shirts are difficult to shrink. The manufacturer has already allowed for the normal two percent and progressive shrinkage requirements. This shrinkage is usually not enough to cause a complaint. Shrinkage beyond this is usually due to poorly stabilized materials. Shrinkage complaints can easily be resolved by measuring the collar and sleeve length. Measure the collar from the end of the buttonhole to the center of the button. Measure the sleeve length in a straight line from the center of the back of the collar at the seam to the end of the cuff. If these measurements correspond to the shirt size, it has not shrunk.
Holes and Tears in Oxfords
Tiny holes can appear at random throughout an oxford shirt due to the weaving process. These should not be confused with damage from bleach. We do not use bleach at Comet unless absolutely necessary and in a separate and controlled area. Oxford consists of two thin warp yarns to every soft, thicker yarn in the filling direction. The unbalanced construction causes the thin yarn to break, leaving tiny holes. Manufacturers could use a higher twist in the yarn to retard the development of holes, but eventually any oxford weave will develop tiny pinholes. In addition, tears in oxfords occur in the direction of the softly twisted, thicker yarns. All the yarns in an oxford receive the same care process, but the constant abrasion in wear causes the thick yarns to weaken and tear.
Buttons may crack during pressing even though the press padding is in excellent condition and the procedures used are correct. The reason for this is that there is an inherent problem in the button or the way the button was applied to the shirt. The majority of shirt buttons are made from a polyester resin. The strength of the button depends on the amount of polyester in the resin; some imported buttons contain less polyester. Some manufactures use less expensive, off-quality buttons to save money but this sometimes results in higher than average breakage. We inspect each shirt and replace broken or missing buttons, free of charge, as an added service to our customers.
Perspiration and Antiperspirant Damage
Perspiration, if allowed to stay in the shirt, will eventually stain and also weaken the fabric, allowing the weakened area to be damaged during washing. Aluminum chlorides found in antiperspirants will also weaken the fibers under the arm. Controlled use of antiperspirants and frequent washings immediately after wear may minimize this type of damage.
The Care Label Rule states that the color in a garment must withstand the recommended care procedure. If the dyes in a multicolored shirt are not colorfast, bleeding will occur. The dye will migrate into adjacent areas during the cleaning process. Some dyes dissolve in water and are partially removed during laundering. After the first laundering, the lightening of color may be apparent, or it may be progressive and only noticeable after several care procedures.
Interfacing puckering and excess fabric in the shirt collar and cuffs after laundering is caused by shrinkage of the interfacing within the collar and cuffs. If the shirt is laundered, and the interfacing shrinks excessively, it will cause the puckering of the outer fabric. The manufacturer must select an interfacing, which is compatible with the shirt fabric. Collars and cuffs can have a mottled gray or shiny look in specific areas when excess adhesive is used to fuse the collar or cuff fabric and the interfacing. This excess adhesive softens in pressing and penetrates the outer fabric of the collar and cuffs. This can be prevented by the correct selection of an adhesive by the manufacturer, which is compatible to laundering.
Stains and Spills
Stains from medicines, acids, cleaning products, the acidic or sugary residue of foodstuffs and beverages, or liquid chlorine bleach, can easily damage clothing. Spillage of these types of normal household products cause localized fabric weakness or color loss in the area of contact with the fabric. This type of damage may not show up until after washing. This type of staining is usually permanent and can only be prevented by avoiding contact with these products.