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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.


Pop Quiz Results

Posted by: Sarah Moeck

Tagged in: just for fun , History , FAQ's , Dry Cleaning

Was that too hard of a test for you? Are your brains all fried? Well gird up your loins my friends- it is time for the answers! Check your own papers- lets use the honor system so no cheating all right?

1. B

2. C

3. B

4. A

5. B

6. A

7. C

8. C

9. B

10. C

How did you do? Any major mistakes? Did you prove yourself a fool or one of those lucky enough to really know all sorts about dry cleaning? Either way- thanks for participating and having a little fun with me!

And if you did prove yourself a fool, never fear, there are always ways to make up for that. For instance... there are three wonderful web pages of blog posts that you can look over for a little fun and knowledge :)


April Fools

Posted by: Sarah Moeck

Tagged in: just for fun , History , FAQ's , Dry Cleaning

I think April Fools is a fun day. I used to LOVE it when I was a kit. I would sit for days before trying to think of pranks I could pull on my family and friends. Often times my older brother and I would team up and we did all the usual ones: switching shampoo and conditioner, switching sugar and salt, removing the stopper of a shaving cream can and tossing it into the shower while someone is in there, switching the sticker on the faucet so hot and cold are backwards etc.

It was harder of me to think of something that I could do via the blog-o-sphere. I didn't want to do a prank blog because well, I might get in trouble depending on how upset people got over it. :) So I decided, instead of pranking you, we will just see how smart or "foolish" you might be; about dry cleaning.

I have devised a simple multiple choice test. Take it to the best of your ability and then get back onto the blog tomorrow where I will have posted the answers and see how well you did. (HINT: all the answers to these dry cleaning questions can be found in all of these blog posts! So if you have done your reading you will be good to go!)

Get ready- get set and..... GO!

1. The spot inside of a dry cleaning machine where you put the clothes is called:

a. the clothes hole

b. the drum

c. there is no special spot

2. If you get a stain on a shirt you should:

a. wait. Often times stains will come out on their own

b. wash it. That's what soap is for right? Wash and scrub!

c. soak it if the fabric can stand water, and take it to the cleaners ASAP!

3. Who does Dry Cleaning and Beyond team up with to get you awesome wedding discounts?

a. Your mom

b. Alyssa's Bridal

c. David's Bridal

4. What were the earliest dry cleaners called?

a. fullers

b. fillers

c. Um... dry cleaners... duh

5. What is starch used for?

a. Potatoes!

b. you know... to make things... stiff like

c. to whiten. Its like bleach

6. What kind of stains really say spring time?

a. Grass

b. beer- from all the spring break parties! Woohoo!

c. rain spots

7. How did dry cleaning start?

a. A woman realized her clothes got cleaner when she didn't use water, just natural air

b. it has always existed

c. A man spilled kerosene on his clothes

8. Why does the dry cleaners check your pockets?

a. because your mom does. Its a good practice.

b. finders keepers. What if there is something really good in there?

c. To keep what is in there from ruining your and other peoples clothes

9. What is crocking?

a. when you wear your favorite pair of crocks out

b. when the color of a fabric rubs off

c. What that Australian animal man does... doesn't he have a show?

10. Name on celebrity- whom we have picture proof of- that picks up their own cleaning?

a. Paris Hilton

b. Tom cruise

c. Hillary Duff




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.


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 :)

Why Loose the Magic?

Posted by: Sarah Moeck

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

My husband, as a general rule, does NOT like jeans. We differ greatly in that way. He just can't ever find a pair that fits, or feels, as good as a pair of khakis.

He owns- one pair of jeans. Yes, one.  In high school he took a trip with some friends and in a boutique he found a pair of jeans. For those of you have not seen, heard or felt a pair of these jeans I can sum them up for you in one single word:

Magical.

So my husband paid an INORDINATE amount for his one and only pair of perfect jeans. (Really though- who wouldn't?) When we first started dating we would often do our laundry together and I remember in my naive state being appalled that he took these coveted jeans to the dry cleaners.

At that point in my life I don't think I had ever dry cleaned anything. I avoided the "dry clean only" tag like the plague. As I know many people do. But my husband was adamant. His PDCs would NEVER meet with a washing machine and store bought detergent. I asked the same question that many, many people have asked me since they heard about this blog:

 "Why do I need to dry clean my clothes?"

Great question. And what's lucky for you is that while I was confused back in the day, I now hold the coveted answer.

Why dry clean? Because not all fabrics are created equal.

That means, though you can toss your cotton shirt into the washing machine and have no issues, you MAY not want to try that with say... silk. Or linen. Or satin. Or a pair of PDCs.

Believe it or not, but water can actually damage a lot of fabrics out there. Those clothes that you buy that say dry clean only on them? That is why they say it. The fabric that that garment is made out of is not meant for water or modern detergents.

It's not just a conspiracy between the textile industries and the dry cleaners I promise.

The great thing about dry cleaning, is that while it not only takes care of those products that can be ruined by water, it can also prevent water damage on clothes that should be able to withstand the washing machine.

Water, as I am sure everyone has experienced, can fade, shrink, and even change the feeling of a fabric. By dry cleaning an item you retain all of what you would have lost in your washing machine.

Have an item that has already been ruined by your washer? No problem. Bring it to the dry cleaners. It is not guaranteed, but often your cleaners will be able to even return some of the original feel, and shape of the garment.

Are there more reasons to dry clean your clothes? Certainly.

Do you have any items that say hand wash only? Those are suppose to be done that way because the make, and sometimes the fabric of the garment, cannot withstand the tumble and high pressure wash that a washing machine, or a dryer, would give it.

The great thing is that dry cleaning can treat that item with the same delicacy your hands can. Don't worry- I know the tag says hand wash only. You just have to read between the lines. When something says hand wash only it really means, "Hand wash only OR if that is too laborious for you, take it to the dry cleaners. Just please don't throw this in your dirty clothes bin with your gym socks."

Dry cleaning is also a GREAT means of clothing preservation. Ever had beads on your shirt that all got undone in the wash? Sequins that melted in the dryer? A sweater that pilled? Embroidery that came loose? Though these items can technically all be done in your machine, a lot can go wrong when you mix them in with your non expensive jeans and well... your gym socks.

If there is anything you are unsure about, whether it be the magical quality of your clothes, or the embellishments on your sweater, be safe. Take it to the dry cleaners. We are always here! Willing to take the work load from your hands, and save your clothing paranoia.


Q and A: The Skinny on Starch

Posted by: Sarah Moeck

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

In my experience, the most popular item that people come in to have dry cleaned are suit shirts. The most popular question I ask when people bring their suit shirts in to be cleaned is: "And would you like any starch on these?"

My most popular answer? A blank look and the question, "I'm not sure what you mean. Starch?"

Yes starch. Everything that you may have ever wanted to know about starch, and what in the world it has to do with dry cleaning will be answered below. So read on!

 

Starch is something green plants produce to use as an energy store. It is also the most important carbohydrate that a human can consume and exists in foods like potatoes.

However, starch had a wide variety of uses outside of the human diet. Starch is actually derived from the Middle English word Sterchen. Which means to stiffen.

Starch is a white, tasteless, ordorless powder, and though it is insoluable in cold water and alcohol, when it is mixed with warm water, it creates a thick paste that even as far back as the Egyptians, has been used as a thickening, stiffening, or gluing agent.

The Egyptians used starch to stiffen cloth that they were trying to waeve, to make the process easier. They also used it in their paper making, as did the Romans. Starch is still used today in the making of paper, and is a properity in most adhesives. Its most widely known use however, would be in laundry.

In laundry, vegetable starch is mixed with water and used mostly as a stiffening substance. As far back as the 16th and 17th centruies, nobels used starch while they laundered their clothes, to stiffen collars and ruffs that were made from fine linen.

In the 19th and 20th centuries starch was applied to clothes during the ironing process to stiffen mens cuffs and collars, and womens petticoats. They discovered then that starch was also helpful because when used, dirt and sweat would bind itself to the starch instead of to the fibers of the garment being worn, making it easier to wash.

A dry cleaners uses starch in the same way: to stiffen a customers clothes. Its most popular use is in mens shirts, but if you like your pants or blouses to feel a little stiff, do not be afraid to ask your cleaners if they can put some starch in those items as well!

What you do need to know, is that there are different levels of starch, from light to heavy. When using light starch, you have to have a fine feel to tell the difference from no starch. It is usually most easily seen in the cuffs or collars of a shirt.

 Heavy starch is what people like Frankenstein here like: your shirt will be able to stand on its own :)

Also, starch DOES build up in clothes over time. It takes four or five washes with no starch, to get one dose of heavy starch out of your clothes. So if you notice your items growing more stiff than you like, the next few times you bring them into the cleaners, ask for no starch, or very light starch.

Also, every fabric will take to starch differently. Some won't take to it all. If you are curious, feel free to ask. And if your dry cleaners doesn't know either, take the chance and see :)


The Positive Pick Pocket

Posted by: Sarah Moeck

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

I was talking to a friend the other day about work and they asked me, knowing that I work at the front desk of a dry cleaners, what's the most important thing I could do in my job.

 I thought about it for a moment and then I replied, "Checking pockets."

It's ironic when you think about it. I spent the first half of my life being taught by my mother to keep my hands OUT of peoples pockets. And then in college, when I spent a summer in the UK, I spent months trying to keep other peoples hands out of my purse and backpack pockets.

However, working for a dry cleaners, I have had to complete re-work the way I think when it comes to this. Because when people bring in anything for dry cleaning, checking their pockets has to be my first, automtic, reaction. And here are a few reasons why:

1. Left behind items 

Can I tell you, since I have worked here, how many frantic phone calls from customers I have had? "I left a very important business card/ my credit card/ my phone/ my favorite pen/ a pair of gloves/ a LOT of cash/ a pack of gum in my pants pocket! Do you happen to find it?"

Its a wonderful thing to be able to tell them, "Why yes, I did! I have it here in a little white paper bag with your name on it and you can come and get it whenever you want."

2. Items in pockets can not only ruin your clothes, but other peoples.

Ever had a ball point pen explode in your hand? Imagine that on hundreds of delicates that have been entrusted to a dry cleaners care. We know a customer would get upset if they had pen on their clothes when we brought it back, especially if they knew they weren't the ones with a pen in their pocket.

Gum and Crayons can make the very same mess, only gum becomes more of a sticky issue and it gets into everything! Crayons make a more colorful waxy mess:) Gum, pens, crayons can all gum up not only a customers clothes, but the dry cleaning machines as well.

 3. Collar stays.

They are just as important to check for as checking pockets, which is why I added it here. A lot of shirts today are coming with collar stays that are sewn into shirts. These are great because they have been developed to work with the heat of a cleanersmachines.

Removable stays however, were meant to be removed. Because of the heat of the shirt and pressing machines at a cleaners, plastic stays can actually melt to the fabric of the shirt. Sometimes this works out without a problem, but many times when the melted stays get old they crack breaking the fabric of the shirt at the same time. They can also melt funny and cause puckered fabric and discoloration.

Newer metal stays, though they don't melt, can get stuck in dry cleaning machines and cause problems with how they work. Or, they just fall on the floor and cause messes for later.

 So next time you drop off your clothes at the cleaners, and you notice the counter employee digging into your pockets and pulling out stays before they have even rung you up, don't be alarmed. This is for your benefit :) And anything we find comes right back to you we promise.


Facts about color failure

Posted by: Administrator

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

Facts about Color Failure and Dry Cleaning

color-fading-dry-cleaningSince earliest time fabrics have been enhanced by the addition of color. Colored fabrics are produced in several different ways. Some fabrics are woven from dyed yarns, some fabrics are dyed after weaving, and some fabrics are colored by printing the surface, often with several different colors. Modern technology has brought great improvements in color performance, but color failures may still occur from a variety of causes.

Color Loss in Dry Cleaning

Some dyes are soluble in dry cleaning solvent. This may result in severe color fading if such an article is dry cleaned. If two or more dyes have been used and only one is solvent soluble, a dramatic color change can occur. For example, the yellow component may be removed and leave a green garment blue. The only clue of the former color may be the thread, which was dyed by a different method.

The same color on two different garments may also be affected differently. For example, you may buy a dress with a coordinated jacket in a blue and white print. When they are dry cleaned, the dress, which was vat dyed, may be unaffected, while the blue print of the jacket may fade so the blues no longer match.

Color failure is frequent in household items such as bedspreads and draperies. Often the fading does not appear severe, but it can be very noticeable when the item is compared with a matching item. For this reason, matching bedspreads and draperies should all be cleaned at the same time.

Water-soluble Dyes

Some dyes bleed when wet. This can occur in laundering or simply upon exposure to perspiration, rain, or water spillage. Some stains require water and water-soluble chemicals for removal, so even a dry cleanable item should have dyes with some resistance to water.

Sizing Disturbance

Fabrics often have sizing to give them body. Sometimes water spills can cause sizing to migrate and form dark rings or streaks as it dries. This can be a problem with rayon, which is often heavily sized. Sizing can also become lightened on exposure to water. These discolorations are difficult to remedy on dry cleanable fabrics because they require additional water to remove the sizing buildup, and this may aggravate the problem.

Crocking

Crocking is the rubbing off of color from the fabric surface. Crocking may occur from wear alone, along edges of hems and creases. Crocking can also occur in washing or dry cleaning. This phenomenon is expected in some garments, such as denims, but the technology exists to produce deep colors that do not streak or fade.

Fading From Light Exposure

Eventually most dyes fade on exposure to light, especially sunlight. But sometimes color failure occurs rapidly on exposed areas such as shoulders, collars, and sleeves. Usually sunlight is the cause, but artificial light can also cause fading. Many blue, green, and lavender dyes are particularly light sensitive, especially on silk and wool fabrics.

Chemical Damage

Many common substances found in any household can cause chemical changes to dyes. Exposure to perspiration or to alkaline substances, which are present in many toiletries, can cause color change. Dyes used on silk can fade on exposure to alcohol. Even acid from lemon juice can cause bleaching on some dyes. And spillage of chlorine bleach is a very common cause of color loss and even fabric damage.

Fume Fading

Fume fading is the result of a chemical change in the dyestuff. Acid gases that form in the atmosphere as a product of combustion react with some dyes to cause a gradual color change. This type of change can occur even while a garment is stored in your closet. It is usually not uniform, but is more noticeable on exposed areas such as shoulders and sleeves. Sometimes this type of color change may not be noticed until after washing or dry cleaning, but these immersion processes cannot cause this localized type of change. Fume fading is most common on acetates.

Whites

White is actually a color, too. In their natural state, many fabrics have an off-white or yellowish cast and are therefore often bleached to remove this natural color. In addition, many white fabrics are treated with whiteners during manufacture. These optical brighteners, also called florescent whitening agents, change the reflective quality of the fabric to make it appear whiter and brighter.

Different brighteners are used with different types of fabric. Some of these agents are unstable and may break down and lose their whitening power, so that the fabric reverts to a yellowish or grayish appearance. Some fabrics may take on a pinkish or greenish blue. When a fluorescent brightener breaks down due to light exposure, the unexposed areas will be unaffected. For example, the front of a sweater laid out to dry in the sun may turn yellow while the back remains white. Brighteners are especially sensitive to light exposure when garments are wet. This is why some care labels specify drying out of direct sunlight.

Another cause of yellowing of white may be resins added to impart a permanent press quality. These resins can yellow when they are exposed to chlorine bleach. In this case, the yellowing will be uniform. It can be avoided by following the care label and using only nonchlorine bleach when this is specified.

Some white fabrics lose their whiteness just from normal wear, oxidation, and exposure to atmospheric soils. This process can be reversed in some fabrics by careful wetcleaning and bleaching, but often yellowing is not reversible. dry cleaners sometimes add a fluorescent brightener to their dry cleaning procedure, and many laundry detergents include brighteners, but severe cases of yellowing cannot be corrected in this manner.


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