Category >> Dry Cleaning

Mrs. Fix-it

Posted by: Sarah Moeck

I get a lot of customers that come into our store that ask if we do alterations. (We do; alterations and patch and fix-it work.) I get almost as many pieces of clothing that need to be repaired as I get items that need to be cleaned. (Maybe its more a 30-70 ratio; I was never very good at math.)

I have had people ask in the past ways to keep their clothes cleaner, ways to get out stains, etc. There have been multiple posts on this blog on that very subject. What I haven't ever been asked, that I think may help some customers, is how to keep your clothes more alteration free :)

It seems every customer that comes into the store with an alteration, they also have some piece of advice on the "avoidance of further alterations" subject. I am just going to share all of their suggestions with the broader audience:

1. From a Police man with a split seam all down the very back of his pants: "Do not play basketball in your uniform."

2. From the young man with a split up the entire front of his pants: "Don't Russian dance to your cell phone ring when the pants aren't as loose as your work-out pants. Especially if you are on a first date with a girl you are really interested in."

3. From the older gentleman with 3 pairs of Levi's: "Get the knees reinforced BEFORE they wear out, when you know they don't make this style in your size anymore."

4. The woman with the button down shirt which was devoid of any buttons: "Don't try to take off a button down when you are upset."

5. The young man with missing buttons on his collared shirt: "Have your mom teach you to sew a button before you move away from home."

6. The older woman who needed an entire coat zipper replaced: "When the zipper won't move that does not mean, 'try harder.' It means, stop trying to make the zipper work before you make a bigger mess."

7. The business man who needed both pants pockets sewn up: "Remember that there are holes in your pockets before you put money in there and then loose it because of the holes."

8. The doctor with burned holes in the front of his chemists coat, with a shrug: "At least it was the lab coat and not my shirt. I guess that's what lab coats are for right?"

9. The woman who needed her pants taken up half a foot: "When they don't see your size in the store, check on line before you buy something three sizes too long."

10. From the mother getting the hem of two small pairs of church pants let out:

"No one tells you when you want a baby that in four years they are going to be kids, then in ten more they will be teen-agers."


Be In Your Bonnet

Posted by: Sarah Moeck

Tagged in: Stains , spots , FAQ's , Fabric Care , Environment , Dry Cleaning

I was sitting on my couch last night, enjoying the visages of my chocolate Easter bunny and jelly beans, thinking about all sorts of Easter memories. My mother is a HUGE person for holidays, even the small ones like St. Patricks day, so she always goes all out for food and decorations and...

dress up's. For me, when I was younger, Easter meant a new wonderfully colored dress to wear to church and ....yes; the quintessential Easter hat. White and be-ribboned, colored and be-flowered...you name. I probably wore. And was proud to wear at that.

I think Easter past is what has given me my great love in life now, for hats in general. I have LOTS of them. Huge black ones like Audrey Hepburn used to wear, golfing hats, baseball hats, brimmed beanies, old fashioned reporter caps... you name it. 

Now that hats are coming back in fashion a little more (which I love by the way), and spring and summer are heralding the season for them, there is one question I hear a lot. From friends and from customers.

"How in the WORLD do you wash a hat?"

With straw, and ribbons, and buttons, and flowers, decals and stickers, cardboard inserts and stiff fabrics, hats are NOT something you can throw in with your delicate cycle. But hats can be dry cleaned. If your dry cleaners has the right facility to do so.

There are a few reasons why you should have your hats dry cleaned instead of just tossing them into the washer at home. The first is fit. Even those wool beanies you wear while you are snowboarding... people are really picky about the fit. You want the hat to cover your ears right? To stay the same shape? Washers and dryer can shrink, smoosh, and over all make a mess of a hat.  A dry cleaners doesn't use water so you don't have to worry about shrinkage. And we wont through your hat into a rotating machine, so no smashing.

The second reason goes along with the first. A dry cleaners doesn't use water. So those cardboard inserts that keep that baseball brim so stiff? They won't get ruined. The color won't run, the fabric won't shrink or loose shape. A lot of hats are made from other fabrics other than just your basic cotton. Exposing them to water can be a very bad thing. By dry cleaning your hat you can guarantee that its going to come back looking the same as it went in. Just cleaner.

The third, is that many people don't notice that even on the most basic hat, there is a grain. So even if you pick up a do it at home cleaning kit, if you don't have good lighting and don't pay enough attention, your going to just rub at the seams of your hat and realize when your done that something looks incredibly weird. It's the grain. You have to clean along it, just like you paint a house, with the grain to make it turn out right.

A dry cleaners is going to spot clean your hat. Usually the most dirty area is just the brim where the hat stays right by your head. Just like we can spot clean a shirt or pair of pants, a dry cleaners can do the same with your hats, making sure the areas that needs a really deep clean are going to get it.

Another thing a dry cleaners can do that is hard to do at home, is blocking. Most people only get their cowboy hats or Indiana Jones hats blocked, but you can do it with baseball caps too. Blocking is like those wooden inserts you put in Italian leather shoes to make sure they keep the same shape. When we do the cleaning we put the hat on a block to make sure it keep sit shape, and to even give it shape again. Your hat got trampled on during a rodeo? No worries. Not only can we get out the mud, we can put the wonderful crease back into the middle of it, and make it stiff.

If you are not following the new hair covering rage because you think what happens when it gets dirty? Don't worry about it! Dirt should never stop you from getting something that has the potential to make you look fantastic! My friends- go put a little something something on your head, hide those fly away frills, and feel amazing in a decorated, and clean, bonnet of your very own.


Mistakes

Posted by: Sarah Moeck

 

One of my favorite movies is Music and Lyrics. I love Hugh Grant, and though he is no Michael Jackson, I actually enjoy listening to him sing. One of my favorite songs comes at the very end of the movie (don't worry- no spoilers) where he is asking the heroine to forgive him by singing a song in concert. One of the lines in the song I love especially. It goes:

"Please don't write me off just yet."

To me it is such an epic plea for forgiveness, you know?

What made me think of this, was a customer that came into one of our companies stores the other day and said that they had been to a local dry cleaners recently, and the company had ruined the customers shirt in some way. When the customer went back to ask that the misfortune be corrected somehow,  the dry cleaners had sent the customer out the door without another word, and without making amends for the mistake.

I am sure that MOST dry cleaners have heard a story like this from a customer. Though we are here to fix and to clean your clothes, unfortunately, we cannot, as much as we would like to be able to, claim perfection. Sometimes- things happen, as I am sure all of you have experienced in your own line of work. Mistakes cannot be eradicated indefinitely.

However, we have discovered that the real mistake doesn't come in staining or ruining a garment. The real mistake that our customers previous dry cleaners made, was in not making up for their error.

Since Dry Cleaning and Beyond had been in business we have, yes, we will admit, made some mistakes. What we have and what we will continue to promise to do however, is to make up for the mistake IF you, as the customer, give us the chance to do so. We can replace missing buttons, re-sew loose hems and threads, get out stains from bleeding fabrics etc. If it comes down to it- we will even replace something if needed. And we will do it without charge.

So I guess though I have no voice or piano talent, I would like to make the same plea as Hugh Grant. Don't write us off with the first error. Bring the garment in and give us, or whatever dry cleaner you go to, the chance to show you how much we appreciate you as a customer by making up for what we did wrong.

Because we will make it up to you if you give us the chance. And that is something that we CAN promise.


Celebrity Dry Cleaning

Posted by: Sarah Moeck

I find celebrity gossip hilarious. I am one of those people that in the supermarket while I am comparing vegetable prices can't help pick up those tabloids and magazines that you are sure are either:

a. half full of crap or

b. making something out of nothing

I love the making something out of nothing; it nostaligacally reminds me of high school. What I love most about these tabloids and magazines however, is how excited paparazzi get about celebritys doing every day, human, normal things.

I'm talking about the headlines that say-

Katie Holmes Kisses Her Daughter Surri!

Brad Pitt Grows a Beard!

Paris Hilton Walks Her Dog!

Jennifer Lopez Drops Off Her Dry Cleaning!

Hilarious. This week while I was looking for pictures to include in a few other posts, somehow by typing in the word "dry cleaning" into the search engine, it pulled up LOTS of celebrity pictures of them dropping off, and picking up their dry cleaning.

So for a little fun today I decided to include a few of my favorite photos. And now when you drop off your dry cleaning you can stand up a little taller and think- "I have something in common with someone famous! I have dry cleaning!" :)

Here we see Mandy Moore- just after picking up her cleaning:

 
Here we see Brittany Spears getting ready to drop off her dry cleaning. She's very excited.
 
Adam Brody doing the impossible- picking up dry cleaning!
 
Hillary Duff, like the average American- picks up her own dry cleaning. Who would imagine?
 
Natalie Portman picking up her dry cleaning- who knew she could be so... human?
 
 
 Kim Kardashian gets her own dry cleaning- and even holds the door open! My goodness!


Difficulties

Posted by: Sarah Moeck

Tagged in: Dry Cleaning

We wanted to apologize for the lack of blogging that has gone on the past few weeks. We have been experiencing some technical difficulties that kept us from being able to post very much.

However, we are back on line now and VERY happy about it!  We hope to be able to make up some space and time these next few days and post a lot.

In the mean time, enjoy a comic about dry cleaning. Just a little something from us to you in hopes that you can smile at least once today.

 


Feeling the Love Day 3

Posted by: Sarah Moeck

Tagged in: Stains , spots , FAQ's , Fabric Care , Dry Cleaning

To celebrate Valentines day, our blog is writing a post every day this week, detailing something that we love. On our first day we expressed our love for children. On our second day we expressed our love for the earth. Today, our third day, we will be expressing our love for:

Food.

I am doing a similar "Feeling the Love" blog post on my personal blog, and what I wrote there today, inspired me for today's shout out for THIS blog. This morning on my personal blog, I felt the need to write about my undying passion for peanut butter. (Yes- I am addicted.) Which led me to think about how I, the company of Dry Cleaning and Beyond, the dry cleaning community in general, and I am sure every human out there, is VERY much in love with food.
Not only is eating necessary to life, but I am pretty sure that most individuals do it for fun as well. There is eating because something tastes good (I am thinking of... peanut butter?), eating for social situations (Valentines day is the perfect social eating situation I feel), and eating because it makes you feel good (nothing like pasta before a run, and a nice grilled chicken sandwich after). However, with this particular eating love also can come trouble- as with most any loves. The first and most obvious of which would be an overindulgence which takes away the feel good aspect. But also because I am sure we have all had the experience of what food, and good food, can do to our clothes.
You don't just have to have kids, or have been a kid, to have experienced this. I think I spill something in my home everyday, much to the chagrin of my very neat and careful husband. And unfortunately, many of those things that we really love leave horrid stains. I am thinking of mustard, chocolate, wine, fruit punch and any other dark fruit juices, spaghetti sauce, salad dressing, oil, sticky residue from gum and candy, and many, many others.
I'm not sure there is anything worse than getting all ready for the day and then spilling your morning cuppa all down your newly cleaned shirt. Thankfully, we can help. The owners to our company wrote a great blog last year about how to help keep stains such as coffee from setting into your clothes. For those stain removing tips from their own genius minds, I am including the link to the post "Removing Stubborn Stains and Spots." And I am going to add a few points of my own more rudimentary wisdom:
1.
DO NOT DO THIS. Rubbing is probably the WORST thing you can do for a stain. When you rub at something, it is actually DIGGING that food stain deeper into the fibers of the fabric making the stain harder to remove, though it may appear to be lightening.  

2.
You may want to consider doing this, though you don't necessarily have to be WEARING the clothes to soak them :) Soaking something that is tolerant in water, (so maybe NOT your silk dress,) can be very helpful because the water can keep the stain from setting in every further.
3. The best thing you can do is get the spotted garment over to the cleaners as fast as you can, where they have the chemicals, technology, and know how to remove those food bombs that taste oh so good. The longer you wait to do so- the more set the stain gets, and the harder it becomes to get it out.
So, this Valentines day we celebrate the popular fast food refrain "if it doesn't get all over the place, it doesn't belong in your face." Love your food, and let us take care of the... all over the place part :)

How Does Dry Cleaning Work?

Posted by: Administrator

Tagged in: Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning MachineA dry-cleaning machine is similar to a combination of a domestic washing machine, and clothes dryer. Garments are placed into a washing/extraction chamber (referred to as the basket, or drum), which is the core of the machine. The washing chamber contains a horizontal, perforated drum that rotates within an outer shell. The shell holds the solvent while the rotating drum holds the garment load. The basket capacity is between about 10 and 40 kg (20 to 80 lb).

During the wash cycle, the chamber is filled approximately one-third full of solvent and begins to rotate, agitating the clothing. The solvent temperature is maintained at 30 degrees Celsius, as a higher temperature may damage it. During the wash cycle, the solvent in the chamber (commonly known as the 'cage') is passed through a filtration chamber and then fed back into the 'cage'. This is known as the cycle and is continued for the wash duration. The solvent is then removed and sent to a distillation unit comprising a boiler and condenser. The condensed solvent is fed into a separator unit where any remaining water is separated from the solvent and then fed into the 'clean solvent' tank. The ideal flow rate is one gallon of solvent per pound of garments (roughly 8 litres of solvent per kilogram of garments) per minute, depending on the size of the machine.

Garments are also checked for foreign objects. Items such as plastic pens will dissolve in the solvent bath and may damage textiles beyond recovery. Some textile dyes are "loose" (red being the main culprit), and will shed dye during solvent immersion. These will not be included in a load along with lighter-color textiles to avoid color transfer. The solvent used must be distilled to remove impurities that may transfer to clothing. Garments are checked for dry-cleaning compatibility, including fasteners. Many decorative fasteners either are not dry cleaning solvent proof or will not withstand the mechanical action of cleaning. These will be removed and restitched after the cleaning, or protected with a small padded protector. Fragile items, such as feather bedspreads or tasseled rugs or hangings, may be enclosed in a loose mesh bag. The density of perchloroethylene is around 1.7 g/cm³ at room temperature (70% heavier than water), and the sheer weight of absorbed solvent may cause the textile to fail under normal force during the extraction cycle unless the mesh bag provides mechanical support.

Many people believe that marks or stains can be removed by dry cleaning. Not every stain can be cleaned just by dry cleaning. Some need to be treated with spotting solvents; sometimes by steam jet or by soaking in special stain remover liquids before garments are washed or dry cleaned. Also, garments stored in soiled condition for a long time (two months or more) are difficult to bring back to their original color and texture. Natural fibers such as wool, cotton, and silk of lighter colors should not be left in dirty or soiled condition for long amounts of time as they absorb dirt in their texture and are unlikely to be restored to their original color and finish.

A typical wash cycle lasts for 8–15 minutes depending on the type of garments and degree of soiling. During the first three minutes, solvent-soluble soils dissolve into the perchloroethylene and loose, insoluble soil comes off. It takes approximately ten to twelve minutes after the loose soil has come off to remove the ground-in insoluble soil from garments. Machines using hydrocarbon solvents require a wash cycle of at least 25 minutes because of the much slower rate of solvation of solvent-soluble soils. A dry-cleaning surfactant "soap" may also be added.

At the end of the wash cycle, the machine starts a rinse cycle wherein the garment load is rinsed with fresh distilled solvent from the pure solvent tank. This pure solvent rinse prevents discoloration caused by soil particles being absorbed back onto the garment surface from the "dirty" working solvent.
After the rinse cycle, the machine begins the extraction process, which recovers dry-cleaning solvent for reuse. Modern machines recover approximately 99.99% of the solvent employed. The extraction cycle begins by draining the solvent from the washing chamber and accelerating the basket to 350 to 450 rpm, causing much of the solvent to spin free of the fabric. When no more solvent can be spun out, the machine starts the drying cycle.

During the drying cycle, the garments are tumbled in a stream of warm air (63°C/145°F) that circulates through the basket, evaporating any traces of solvent left after the spin cycle. The air temperature is controlled to prevent heat damage to the garments. The exhausted warm air from the machine then passes through a chiller unit where solvent vapors are condensed and returned to the distilled solvent tank. Modern dry cleaning machines use a closed-loop system in which the chilled air is reheated and recirculated. This results in high solvent recovery rates and reduced air pollution. In the early days of dry cleaning, large amounts of perchlorethylene were vented to the atmosphere because it was regarded as cheap and believed to be harmless.

After the drying cycle is complete, a deodorizing (aeration) cycle cools the garments and removes the last traces of solvent, by circulating cool outside air over the garments and then through a vapor recovery filter made from activated carbon and polymer resins. After the aeration cycle, the garments are clean and ready for pressing/finishing.


History of Dry Cleaning (part 2)

Posted by: Administrator

Tagged in: History , Dry Cleaning

Dry cleaning uses non-water-based solvents to remove soil and stains from clothes. The potential for using petroleum-based solvents in this manner was discovered in the mid-19th century by French dye-works owner Jean Baptiste Jolly, who noticed that his tablecloth became cleaner after his maid spilled kerosene (paraffin) on it. He subsequently developed a service cleaning people's clothes in this manner, which became known as "nettoyage à sec," or "dry cleaning" in English.

 

Early dry cleaners used petroleum-based solvents such as gasoline and kerosene. Flammability concerns led William Joseph Stoddard, a dry cleaner from Atlanta, to develop Stoddard solvent as a slightly less flammable alternative to gasoline-based solvents. The use of highly flammable petroleum solvents caused many fires and explosions, resulting in government regulation of dry cleaners.

After World War I, dry cleaners began using chlorinated solvents. These solvents were much less flammable than petroleum solvents and had improved cleaning power. By the mid-1930s, the dry cleaning industry had adopted tetrachloroethylene (perchloroethylene), colloquially called "perc," as the ideal solvent. It has excellent cleaning power and is stable, nonflammable, and gentle to most garments. However, perc was also the first chemical to be classified as a carcinogen by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (a classification later withdrawn). In 1993, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) adopted an airborne toxic control measure (ATCM) to reduce perc emissions from dry cleaning operations. The dry cleaning industry is now beginning to replace perc with other chemicals and/or methods. At this time, dry-cleaning was carried-out in two different machines — one for the cleaning process itself and the second to dry the garments.

Traditionally, the actual cleaning process was carried-out at centralized "factories"; high street cleaners shops received garments from customers, sent them to the factory, and then had them returned to the shop, where the customer could collect them. This was due mainly to the risk of fire or dangerous fumes created by the cleaning process.

This changed when the British dry-cleaning equipment company, Spencer, introduced the first in-shop machines (which, like modern dry cleaning machines, both clean and dry in one machine). Though the Spencer machines were large, they were suitably sized and vented to be fitted into shops. In general, three models, the Spencer Minor, Spencer Junior, and Spencer Major, were used (larger models, the Spencer Senior and Spencer Mammoth, were intended for factory use). The cleaning and drying process was controlled by a punch-card, which fed through the "Spencermatic" reader on the machine. Also, Spencer introduced much smaller machines, including the Spencer Solitaire and one simply called the Spencer Dry Cleaning Machine, for use in coin-operated launderettes. These machines resembled coin-operated tumble dryers; to be as small as they were, they simply filtered used perc, rather than distilling it like the commercial Spencer machines. Solvent had to be changed far more frequently as without distillation, it quickly became discoloured, and could cause yellowing of pale items being cleaned. A coin-operated version of the Spencer Minor, which automatically carried out all the distillation and solvent-cleaning operations of the standard version was available but rarely seen, presumably[citation needed] due to its greater cost and size than the other coin-operated machines.

During the 1970s and 1980s, Spencer machines were extremely popular, with virtually every branch of Bollom possessing either a Spencer Minor or a Spencer Junior. Spencer continued to produce machines (introducing new modular and computer controlled models, such as the Spencer Sprint series) until the late 1980s, when the company closed. Spencer machines may still occasionally be seen.

Click here to see our first post on  The History Of Dry Cleaning