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3 Tips to Clean Your Fall Clothes the Right Way
You’ve Got the Style, But How Do You Clean It?
Fall fashion is here, and your winter wardrobe is near. We’re all guilty of wearing our favorite garments a couple extra times before cleaning it, but is that OK to do? Absolutely, but there are risks involved. There are obvious signs of “Clean Me Now!” such as noticeable stains or odors that we simply cannot cover. At this point you should get your items cleaned by either washing them or taking them to the cleaners. It’s the not so obvious factors that can harm the fibers of your favorite go-to item or most prized outfit, and once discovered these are the ones that hurt.
Lucky for you there are articles, resources, and your mother’s wisdom to help you protect your favorite fall clothes for the long haul. Here are 3 tips to protect your clothes by cleaning the right way.
Own a wool, cashmere, or angora sweater? Read this. Sweaters should be dry cleaned. If you wash them at home the garment could lose its softness, acquire a fuzzy or old look, or worst of all shrink. If you store them in your closet without cleaning them after each use you run the risk of falling victim to moth damage the next time you clean your sweater.
Clothing moths can cause considerable damage to materials containing wool, fur, or other animal derived products. Their larvae like to feed in dark protected areas making closets a nice landing spot. They are attracted to stains or perspiration in the fabric. Damage from moth larvae occurs from feeding on the fibers and weakening the material. Unfortunately, the real damage is typically seen after dry cleaning a garment because the agitation of the cleaning process causes the weakened area to give out. This results in small single hole (or often in clusters).
Note: This info also applies to wool suits and scarfs
Here are a few tips to reduce or avoid moth problems:
-Thoroughly clean storage areas
-Store clothing in tightly sealed containers
-Deterrents such as cedar, mothballs, or sprays can be helpful, but won't guarantee protection.
Raincoats or Outerwear
Raincoats and outerwear don’t need to be cleaned that often, but when you’re ready make sure to check the clothing care label! Often the best way to clean them is by hand wash or a delicate wash cycle. Do not use fabric softeners when washing. Hang them to dry, and they are ready for another wear. Many care labels state “Dry Clean Only,” but be cautious of a material called Polyurethane. Often abbreviated as P.U., this material is extremely dangerous to dry clean because it contains a coating to keep it soft that can easily dissolve in dry clean solution. If the manufacturer’s coating isn’t stable, the material can stiffen up, blister, or flake off.
Leather / Suede
A fall favorite, leather and suede garments are a great low maintenance choice. Make sure with both materials to avoid water at all costs. Exposure to rain can be dangerous, as can trying to wash these items like your normal clothing. Washing with water or standard dry cleaning won’t cut it. Your quick fix is to blot with a white rag to remove surface stains, but try to avoid excess moisture. Do not rub these garments, as it can cause discoloration or color loss. The best solution to clean them is to have a professional leather and suede cleaning service do the job. Most reputable dry cleaning companies will over this specialty service or can recommend someone if they can accept the item at their store. This service comes at a cost, but it is worth it! Curious how it’s done?
- Stains are worked on first
- The item is cleaned in a machine with peanut or olive oil to keep material soft
- Fatty soaps are then used on the item (Same concept as using lotion for your skin)
- The item is cured and dries naturally with air
- Pressed warm without steam
- Bagged and sent back to customer.
What Happens After I Drop Off My Clothes?
There is a lot that happens beyond your initial drop off. Take a look.
Tagging and Stains
In reality, after check-in, we tag your items so the cleaning team can keep track of them through the upcoming process. Then we check for stains. If we find any tough stains, we’ll remove them based on their chemistry. Stain removal is part art and part science. Some stains are tougher than others but our team can handle 99.9% of them.
Next, we place your garments into the cleaning machine. It’s like a large home washer since the clothes are placed in a metal cylinder. During cleaning, your items bathe in an EPA-approved fluid to dissolve grease and oily stains. Centrifugal force removes most of the fluid and soils just like in a home washer, the rest comes out in drying. Your clothes come out ready to be pressed.
Examples of Finishing
We press pants one leg at a time blast wrinkles with 300-degree steam while a hot flat coated iron flattens and creases each leg (or not depending on your preference). We get wrinkles out of the waist and seat with “puff irons” or a specialized “pants topper” device. If they pass our quality inspection, they're ready for you.
Shirts are a little more involved. We press sleeves on a machine called a “sleever,” or many times by hand. We do collars and cuffs together on another specialized machine. Full-body machines press the front and back perfectly flat. Then, we place the shirt on a form to give the collar it’s natural round shape.
Inspection & Assembly
Following the finishing process, we inspect each item before it is assembled with the rest of your order. We also give the items a detailed final quality exam upon bagging.
Items identified as less-than-100% Ready to Wear go back for correction. The real magic of professional cleaning is how you feel 100% confident because you know you look your best. You know because you trusted the experts, us. Our only job is making you look your best.
How the Sun Can Damage Your Fabrics
Big Brother Big Sister Discount at any Rick’s Cleaners
Show a Rick's staff member your Big Brother Big Sister ID card
when dropping off and get discounted dry cleaning!
To view more businesses in Austin who offer discounts to BBBS mentors please click here
6 Tips To Make Your Curtains Last
1) To protect drapes against yellowing due to excess staining and soiling, clean the drape at least once a year.
2) It is best that you have your drapes cleaned by a cleaner who is experienced in the cleaning of drapes and is knowledgeable in drapery problems.
3) Protect drapes from prolonged dampness. Moisture from rain, leaky pipes, or condensation from window panes can result in water marks and mildew.
4) If possible, rotate draperies periodically to vary the amount of light exposure received.
5) Protect drapes from abrasion damage by avoiding constant rubbing on window sills or furnishings while in use. Abrasion damage can also be caused by a family pet snagging the fabric with sharp claws.
6) Keep draperies away from the kitchen, wood stoves, or fireplaces. Smoke from wood stoves, fireplaces, and cigarettes; cooking fumes; and other atmospheric contaminants can contribute greatly to drapery soiling
Wedding Season Has Arrived – Care For Your Gown
Brides often want to preserve their gown as a keepsake, particularly if the gown is an heirloom. We recommend having your gown cleaned as soon after the wedding as possible.
The gown may have invisible stains from food, beverages, and body oils. If these stains are not properly cleaned, they may become permanent. It is important to point out any stains or spills before cleaning. Most wedding gowns include decorative trim. It is important to inspect these trims with your cleaner prior to cleaning since some may not withstand the cleaning process. Often these trim pieces can be removed and cleaned separately, then reattached.
Most of all…congratulations!
What is dry cleaning?
Contrary to popular belief, dry cleaning does not mean your clothing tumbles around in a dry basket of air. Clothes are deep cleaned in a safe liquid solution, the solution is extracted out, and then your clothes are steam pressed. During the cleaning process your clothes are wet from our cleaning solution. Dry Cleaning is a great way to safely clean garments and remove stains such as oil and grease. It is great method for cleaning your specialty items or everyday wardrobe.
Is commercial laundry the same thing as doing laundry at home?
Commercial laundry is very different from doing laundry at home. Your laundry is washed with soap and starch of your preference, and then placed wet on our state of the art equipment to give them the absolute best press. 100% cotton is the safest material to process in commercial laundry. Anything else we recommend dry cleaning.
My garment doesn’t have a care label. Do you know how to clean it?
Yes and no. Although we’re the experts and have a good idea on how each item should be cleaned, there is no certainty without the care label. The Federal Trade Commission laws require clothing care labels to state exactly how the garment needs to be cleaned. Dry cleaners must assume that the garment as well as any extra decorations or attachments such as beads or sequins on the garment can be cleaned according to care label.
This spot wasn’t here when I brought it in!
You’re probably right. However, there are many types of stains that are not visible prior to cleaning that can be activated during the dry clean process and can leave your garment with an easily noticeable stain. These are called “invisible stains.” Invisible stains are the most frequent problem we face at the dry cleaners. These stains are caused by a reaction between the heat of our drying/pressing process and a sugar-based or oil-based stain. Sugar based stains can caramelize from the heat (causing a difficult to remove brown stain) of the process and oil-based stains can oxidize; if either happens a “new” stain that wasn’t visible prior to cleaning appears. Remember to always let a Rick’s team member know if you spilled anything on your clothing so we may give it proper attention prior to cleaning.
Common sugar-based stains: Coffee, sodas, tea, beer, milk, fruits, etc.
Common oil-based stains: Hair Spray, cosmetics, lotions, etc.
Once stains either caramelize or oxidize, it is extremely difficult and sometimes impossible to reverse the effect. However, if you spot this on one of your items, we will try our best to remove it on a redo attempt.
What risks are there when dry cleaning items with beads or sequins?
Beads are typically held on by thread and over time those threads may come loose (just like they could in your washer at home). Sequins are typically fastened by an adhesive, or glue, which can weaken over time or even the first time sent through cleaning.
The Federal Trade Commission laws require clothing care labels to state how the garment needs to be cleaned. Any extra decorations or attachments such as beads or sequins must fall under the care label cleaning guidelines as well. However, there are often times when these add-ons are not able to withstand the dry cleaning process. There is also always a risk of the fastening adhesive or color of the sequins/beads transferring on surrounding areas of the garment. This is due to poor garment construction, and unfortunately, there is no way of being able to determine this outcome prior to cleaning. When dropping off garments with beads or sequins please inform a Rick’s team member at the counter. In order to process items with either we require consent from the customer due to the possibility of them coming off or not handling the heat of the process.
Remember: Requiring customer consent is not meant to scare you. We do thousands (literally) of items a day and most of the time there is never a problem. However, with any item there is always a risk of the unknown once an item is placed through cleaning.
What is Polyurethane and How Can It Be Cleaned?
The safest way to clean it is washing it inside out in cold water either by hand or on a delicate cycle and letting the garment hang dry.
The potential hazards of dry cleaning it:
Many PU items will say "Dry Clean Only" on the care label, but if the special coating on the material to make it soft isn't set properly by the manufacturer, the material can sometimes react poorly with standard dry cleaning solvent. A negative reaction will result in the material beginning to peel, flake, or crack. There is no way to test if there will be a possible reaction prior to cleaning the garment. Not all garments containing polyurethane become damaged from commercial dry cleaning, but if the damage occurs it is a manufacturer's defect. See the graphic below for an actual example.
What Does Insect Damage Look Like?
How Can Dyes Transfer for Clothes Labeled “Dry Clean Only”?
Dye transfer typically happens when the lighter color fabric shows transfer from the darker dye. The most common occurrence is with black and white garments. If the darker dyes happen to be soluble in dry cleaning solvent, the dye will transfer onto the lighter fabric. There is no way for a dry cleaner to predict this happening because the dye transfer doesn’t occur until it is already in the dry clean machine. This problem is due to a manufacturer’s defect during production because the textile manufacturer is responsible for making sure the dyes used are colorfast (having color that is resistant to fading or running). If this happens to your garment, we will do our absolute best to reverse the effect, but there is no guarantee of restoring the original look.