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FrEquently Asked Questions

What is dry cleaning?

Actually, dry cleaning is not technically "dry" because liquid solvents perform the cleaning, but little water is used, thus the term "dry." Dry cleaning is a method of removing stains and dirt from garments and fabric by using little or no water. Dry cleaning machines are similar to washing machines. A large tumbling basket facilitates the cleaning process. Garments are placed in this basket, which is partially filled with solvent, and tumbled to drop through the solvent. This agitation and the flushing action of the solvent do most of the cleaning. A dry cleaning system requires certain elements. These include a rotating wash cylinder, a tank for storing solvent, a pump to circulate the solvent, a dryer, filters, a distillation system, and, of course, the solvent itself. Optional components include vapor absorbers or a refrigerated condenser for capturing solvent vapors, a moisture injection system, computer or card controllers, and others. The solvents most widely used are perchloroethylene and hydrocarbon. The cleaning solution consists of approximately 98% pure solvent, 1% water, and 1% sizings and detergents. If impurities make up any more than an additional 1% of the solution, the cleaning quality can be compromised by odor and dinginess. More difficult stains require removal with chemical agents, water, steam, air, and vacuum, applied on what is called a "spotting board." Cleaners perform this technique both before and after cleaning to remove stains individually.

What is spot cleaning?

Spot cleaning a garment is basically what the name implies. We hand clean a garment only in the areas with visible spots. We use this technique if portions of the garment cannot withstand an overall cleaning method or if the garment is basically clean with a small stained area. Garments are cleaned on a stain removal board, using steam, vacuum and appropriate stain removal agents, as necessary. In addition to spot cleaning, we also "freshen up" a garment. We clean the garment entirely by hand and then hand press it. Cleaning includes servicing the underarm area, wiping down the lining with a solvent, spot cleaning and pressing.

I would like to wear my grandmother's wedding dress,
but it's 40 years old and the lace has yellowed. What can I do?

We have had excellent success restoring lace that has yellowed with age. Successful restoration assumes the lace has not become overly brittle and can withstand the necessary processing. Please bring the gown to one of our store locations for an evaluation of the lace condition.

I had a dress dry cleaned and it came back with a strong smell.
Is this normal?

If your clothes return from the dry cleaner and smell of solvent, it's time to change cleaners. This smell indicates impure solvent and bacteria growth in the system, not an excessively strong solution as commonly thought. The bacteria cling to the garments and solvent molecules and release the solvent slowly, producing the smell. We use fresh solvent on every load to care for your clothes. A well maintained dry cleaning system should produce odor-free clothes with every cleaning.

Is it okay to leave my clothes in the plastic bags I get from
my cleaners?

Only if you plan to wear them this season! Plastic bags prevent the fabric from breathing. They can also promote mildew formation and cause fume fading. Fume fading yellows whites and discolors colored garments. We recommend storing garments in cloth garment bags, which are breathable and offer some protection against damage from moths and other insects. They often have a plastic view window so you can see the contents without unzipping them. Bags also fold for travel, with convenient carrying handles.

I left my coat in a bag, and now it has white spots. When I wipe
them off, they return. What could cause this problem?

Those white spots you see are mold. Wiping the spots only removes the fungus from the surface. Spores remain in the fibers, and the fungus quickly returns. Do not leave your clothes in the plastic garment bags. Most likely, you will need to address a problem with excess humidity in your closet.

Why do spots sometimes show up after dry cleaning that weren't
visible before?

Among a dry cleaner's worst enemies are "invisible stains" like spray from a grapefruit or apple, hair spray or perfume. It is normally these types of stains that consumers see on freshly cleaned garments, making them protest, "That wasn't there when I gave it to you!" These stains become visible when exposed to heat during the drying cycle or pressing. The sugar in the apple juice caramelizes and oil stains oxidize, making them visible. (As a kid, did you ever make invisible ink with lemon or apple juice? Same concept.) Dry cleaning alone will not remove these stains. Depending on the fabric, an expert technician may be able to remove the stain but not always. If you know of the potential for such invisible stains, point them out to our garment care specialists so we can flush them out before cleaning the item and setting the stain.

Will dry cleaning remove perspiration from a wool suit with a
nylon lining?

By itself, dry cleaning does an unsatisfactory job on perspiration. Our cleaning technicians will need to pre-treat the perspiration before cleaning to remove it. Please inform us when you take the garment in.

Is there anything I can do to remove ink from a suede garment
at home?

Ink is a tough stain to remove even for an experienced suede cleaner. Dyes on suede and leather garments are not as colorfast as one would like. Cleaning often requires removing some dye along with the ink and then replacing the dye. This is a difficult process, depending on the color of the suede. Before you hire a cleaner, ask how well they handle ink stains.

What about using club soda and other at-home remedies for stains?

If you rub a stain with a napkin dipped in water or club soda, it breaks the fibers and causes color loss, or crocking. This home remedy may appear to help, but most of the time, it simply ruins a very expensive piece of your clothing investment.

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