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One of the dry cleaners worst enemies are “invisible stains” like spray from a grapefruit or apple, hair spray or perfume. It is normally these stains that a consumer sees on their freshly cleaned garments and exclaims “That wasn’t there when I gave it to you!”.

What has happened is that these types of stains are not visible until the heat associated with the drying cycle or pressing made the stain visible. The sugar of the apple stain caramelized and the oil stains oxidized making them visible.

Dry cleaning in and of itself will not remove these stains and depending on the material some can be removed after showing up with only the most expert of technicians. Some may never be removed.

If you know of any such invisible stain conditions point them out to the dry cleaner that he may flush them out before the dry cleaning and setting of the stain.

Spot cleaning a garment is basically what the title implies. A garment is hand cleaned only in the areas where spots are noticeable. Spot cleaning is performed if a portion of the garment is not capable of withstanding an overall cleaning method or if the garment is basically clean and a small area has a stain.

Spot cleaning is accomplished on a stain removal board with steam, vacuum, and the appropriate stain removal agents as necessary.

One method to find a reputable cleaner in town is to contact your fine garment retailers. Ask a manager or two from the upscale departments, try a couple of stores. If there is a general consensus, you have probably found one of the best cleaners in town. The stores are in the business and it is to their advantage to see that the clothing they sell is properly cared for.

A fine dry cleaner these days should do a lot of hand washing and wet cleaning, be sure and ask. On your first visit ask to see some of their work. If the place is dirty with soda cans all over the place say thanks and keep looking.

If your clothes are returned to you from the dry cleaner and smell of solvent, it’s time to change cleaners. This smell is a sign of impure solvent and bacteria growth in the system, not too strong a solution as commonly thought. This bacteria holds on to the garments and the solvent molecules and slowly releases the solvent, thus the smell.

It is often thought that the cleaners start with new solvent on a particular day of the week. Only a small amount of solvent is received and added to replace that lost to evaporation. Distilled solvent should be used on every load to properly care for your clothes. A properly maintained dry cleaning system should produce odor free clothes with every cleaning.

Dry cleaning is a method of removing stains and dirt from garments and fabric by using little or no water. Actually, dry-cleaning is not “dry” as solvents, or liquids, are used to perform the cleaning, but with little or no water thus the term “dry”.

Dry cleaning machines are similar to washing machines in that a large tumbling drum is used to facilitate the cleaning process. Garments are placed in this drum that is partially filled with solvent and tumbled in a manner in which they drop through the solvent. This agitation and flushing action of the solvent are responsible for the majority of the cleaning.

Certain elements must be present in a dry-cleaning system. 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. Other components that may or not be found include vapor absorbers or refrigerated condenser for capturing solvent vapors, moisture injection system, computer or card controllers, and others.

The solvents most widely used are percloroethylene and hydrocarbon. The cleaning solution is comprised of approximately 98% pure solvent, 1% water, and 1% sizings and detergents. If impurities comprise any more than an additional 1% of the cleaning solution, the cleaning quality can be detrimentally affected by odor and dinginess.

Some of the more difficult stains are removed with the use of chemical agents, water, steam, air, and vacuum on what is called a “spotting board”. This technique is performed both before and after cleaning and the stains are removed individually.

The short answer is yes only if you will be wearing them soon. It is not advised for storing the garments for a long period of time.

Plastic bags inhibit the fabric from breathing and can promote the formation of mildew and cause fume fading. Fume fading will yellow whites and discolor colored garments.

We recommend storing garments in cloth garment bags that are breathable and will provide some protection to insect and moth damage.

Club soda, considered for so many years to be a “cure all” for practically every mishap, usually just spreads out the stain and can make removal of oily stains like butter and gravy almost impossible.

If you rub a stain with a napkin dipped in water or club soda, it breaks the fibers and causes color loss (crocking). It appears to be helping, when in fact the majority of the time a very expensive piece of your clothing investment is being ruined.

It is best to blot the stain with a clean dry napkin or towel then STOP. Be very careful with a damp or wet cloth as color loss or a water ring may be the result.

We are trained stain experts and at work we have all the right tools, and agents, but at home or in a restaurant we are as powerless as you. We have preached to our customers not to attempt daring feats of stain removal because it simply ruins clothes. Our customers now announce proudly, “I left the stain alone as you taught me”, and their expensive garments will live to be worn again.

The following is a partial list of factors that determine the stability of a garment to different types of care.

-Was the material pre shrunk? Dry-cleaning generally induces less shrinkage than machine washing.
-Dye stability; some dyes are stable in one, either, or neither water or dry cleaning solvent.
-Finishes; optical brighteners, sizing, shrinkage control, and other finishes can react differently depending on the cleaning method.
-Embellishments; many beads, sequins, leather trim, and other embellishments can severely limit the serviceability and care of garments
.As you can see, one cannot select the care method based on the material alone and must rely heavily on the care label and past experiences.