Dry Cleaning FAQ

The first dry cleaning faq to clear up a common misunderstanding, despite the name, dry cleaning is actually not a totally dry process. Through the use of non-flammable solvents such as percholoroethylene, clothes are treated with solvents, rather than water. Clothes are placed into a basket inside of a machine similar to a washing machine. The basket contains a horizontal, perforated drum that rotates inside of an outer shell. This shell contains the solvents, while the clothes remain in the basket. During the wash cycle, new solvent is constantly fed into the machine while old solvent is removed. Some clothes may have to be pre-treated ahead of washing, and how much solvent depends on the type of garment being cleaned. Each wash cycle takes approximately 15 minutes, again depending on the stain needing to be removed. After the wash, the machine will "rinse" with a fresh load of distilled solvent to help keep the clothes from absorbing the already used working solvent. Following this, the extraction cycle will spin the basket incredibly fast to spin out as much solvent as possible. Then, the drying cycle begins, which utilizes warm air to push through the clothes and thus evaporate any traces of solvent still remaining, with the temperature of air depending on what type of garment is being cleaned. Finally, after a cooling cycle, garments are pressed and finished!
Most garments will contain instructions on their tags stating whether or not they need to be dry cleaned. You can also look for symbols on the tags for an indication: a circle is the symbol for dry cleaning and a circle with an x through it means do not dry clean. If you are still unsure, bring it in to DRY CLEAN EXPRESS and we will help you determine.
One of the dry cleaners worst enemies is the "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 garment 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 makes the stains visible. Dry cleaning in and of itself will not remove these 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 stains, please point them out so that we may pre-spot the stain before dry cleaning.
Federal laws require that all clothing manufacturers provide proper cleaning instructions attached by a care label. These labels are supposed to provide information about the fabric from which the garment is made and special care instructions on how to clean it. The professionals at DRY CLEAN EXPRESS can easily determine the proper care and methods for all garments ... whether old or new. An example of this might be a beaded sweater labeled "Dry Clean Exclusive of Ornamentation". To follow the label would require removing all the beadwork prior to cleaning and reattaching beadwork after cleaning. This would be an expensive process. However the professionals at DRY CLEAN EXPRESS may provide a better solution such as wet cleaning.
Many buttons today are constructed of materials that cannot handle the heat involved in professional shirt pressing. Buttons do break - we strive to find each and every one before it is returned to you.
If you spill a liquid on your garments take a deep breath. Before you apply water or club soda, think again. Do not put these fluids on the stain! Please don't rub the spot either, simply blot the spill with a clean, light colored cloth or paper towel. Avoid colored napkins, as the dye used to color the cloth/paper can easily be transferred to your garment. Once you are able to change your clothing, bring it to us as soon as possible. The quicker we treat the stain, the more likely we are to be able to remove it. Fresh stains make stain removal an easier task. Give yourself the upper hand by bringing them to DRY CLEAN EXPRESS as soon as possible. Be sure to point out the stain to our knowledgeable staff and describe the nature of the stain. This makes the likelihood of stain removal success greater. We use complex procedures and special stain removal chemicals to remove stains.
There is some risk involved in using any care process not recommended by the manufacturer. Hand washing involves manual removal of soils with water, detergent, and a gentle squeezing action. A care label that calls for machine washing, in a delicate or gentle cycle, indicates the soil can be removed with water, detergent or soap, slow agitation, and reduced time in a washing machine. Hand washing is a restrictive care process that minimizes the amount of abrasion a garment receives in cleaning. If hand-washable garments are machine washed in a gentle cycle, agitation may be further minimized by putting the item in a net bag. Even this procedure is in violation of the care label instruction, however, and places responsibility for damages on the launderer rather than the manufacturer.
Hairspray and water can remove ballpoint ink, but you may be trading one problem for another. That's because hairspray could contain alcohol and oils such as resins and lanolin. The alcohol in the hairspray can cause color damage especially on silk; likewise, oils and other ingredients could lead to additional stains.
Many people do not realize that prolonged contact with deodorants and antiperspirants may cause permanent damage. Combined with the effects of perspiration, the damage can be extensive. The most frequent damage is caused by overuse of these products, or infrequent cleanings. This leads to the buildup of a stiff, caked-up residue or to fabric damage. To prevent chemical damage, do not overuse the product and allow it to dry before dressing. Wear dress shield with silk garments. To remove the residue on washable garments, wash as soon as possible after wear in the hottest water safe for the fabric. Soaking in a detergent containing enzymes or an enzyme presoak may be necessary. If the stain remains, try using three percent hydrogen peroxide or chlorine bleach, according to fiber type or care label instructions. Before using, test for colorfastness.
First we must remember that rayon is a manufactured fiber composed of regenerated cellulose derived from wood pulp or cotton linters. It is absorbent and comfortable to wear. There are different forms of the fiber know as rayon, viscose, cuprammonium, high-wet modulus and lyocel sold as TencelTM. With the exception of lyocel, rayon is very sensitive to water. Many dyes applied to rayon are not colorfast and will bleed or migrate upon contact with moisture. In addition, manufacturers often add sizing to rayon in order to achieve a desired body or drape. Some sizing are water-soluble, and washing will distort the shape of the garment. Dry cleaning is recommended for most rayon garments. Although substantially similar in chemical composition to rayon, lyocel can be either dry-cleaned or washed. However, when caring for garments made of lyocel it is important to follow the care instructions carefully. If a garment made of lyocel is washed when should have been dry-cleaned, it may result in excessive shrinkage and a wrinkled appearance.
On the contrary, frequent cleaning prolongs the life of a garment. Not only do stains set with age, making the garment unwearable, but ground-in dirt and soil act as an abrasive, like sandpaper, causing rapid wear of fibers. Also, insects are attracted to soiled clothes and will cause further damage.
You may be able to extend the look of the blacks and brightly colored garments by the following:
    • Use Woolite® Dark Laundry fabric wash, which is made to minimize fading of dark colors.
    • If only mildly dirty, wash in small washer load, or wash separately on delicate, or hand wash.
    • Turn the garments inside out to wash. This reduces the amount of abrasion the clothes experience during washing.
    • Use mild detergent and avoid using too much detergent. Harsh detergents are hard on dyes.
    • Do not leave in the dryer too long. Take out when still slightly damp. The heat in the dryer ages fabrics.
      • Dyes are also affected by sunlight, and from abrasive wear.
Try heating equal parts of vinegar and salt in a small pan. Rub the solution on a cool iron, and wipe dry.
Any fabric can be expected to shrink about 1 to 3 percent, even dry clean only garments. Manufactured fibers will shrink the least, and natural fibers the most. The shrinkage of natural fibers is often controlled during the manufacturing process, by washing and preshrinking the fabric before it is made into a garment. Natural fibers which are not preshrunk, and some manufactured fibers such as rayon and acetate (both of which are made using natural plant matter as part of their ingredients) can shrink significantly...even several sizes. Always read the care label before buying a garment.
Pilling of a fabric occurs when groups of short or broken fibers on the surface of the fabric become tangled together in a tiny ball called a pill. Pilling results from rubbing (abrasion) of the fabric during normal wear and use. While pilling cannot be eliminated it can be minimized by proper handling during washing of the fabric/garment. Before laundering, turn the garment inside and out. Use a slower agitation and a shorter wash cycle. And, remove the garment from the dryer as soon as it is dry. To remove any pills on fabric, pull the fabric taut over a curved surface and carefully cut off the pill with scissors or shave the fabric surface with a safety razor. There are also battery operated pill removers, which shave the pills much like an electric razor. However, it's important to understand that once you remove the pills, they can come back. So you may find that you'll have to remove pills from time to time to keep your garment looking fresh and new.
Take a walk through a display of high tech apparel and you'll find a number of care labels that say "no fabric softeners." Many high performance fabrics and finishes, including micro fibers, allow the fabric to breathe and transport moisture away from the skin to the outer surface of the fabric, where it can evaporate. This keeps the wearer dry and comfortable. The "fatty" material in a fabric softener attaches directly to the fabric and makes the fabric feel softer. However, fabric softeners can buildup over time, and can reduce the ability of the fabric to manage moisture and breathe. Frequent use of fabric softeners can also reduce the absorbency of cotton towels. The web site of Cotton Inc. provides the following tip for consumers: "Use fabric softeners occasionally. Overuse will cause your towels to stiffen and become less absorbent."
Blending of fibers is done to enhance the performance and improve the aesthetic qualities of fabric. Fibers are selected and blended in certain proportions so the fabric will retain the best characteristics of each fiber. Blending can be done with natural and man-made fibers, but is usually done with various combinations of man-made fibers or man-made and natural fibers. For example, when polyester is blended with wool, the fabric retains the beautiful drape and feel of 100% wool, and the polyester adds durability. In some blends the polyester even makes the fabric machine washable.
Blending of fibers is done to enhance the performance and improve the aesthetic qualities of fabric. Fibers are selected and blended in certain proportions so the fabric will retain the best characteristics of each fiber. Blending can be done with natural and man-made fibers, but is usually done with various combinations of man-made fibers or man-made and natural fibers. For example, when polyester is blended with wool, the fabric retains the beautiful drape and feel of 100% wool, and the polyester adds durability. In some blends the polyester even makes the fabric machine washable.
There are several reasons why clothes loose their brightness. Common reasons include the use of too much/too little detergent, use of too large of washer loads, inadequate rinsing, and using the wrong water temperature. Read the detergent package for the correct amount of detergent for your type of washer. If the washer is too full, there's more rubbing/abrasion on the clothes, which dulls the fabric/colors. So, don't overload, and use the right amount of water for the load. Regarding the temperature, follow the care instructions on the garment label. Periodic use of appropriate fabric bleach (all fabric or chlorine, as appropriate) and/or laundry boasters will help keep clothes bright. Sometimes changing detergents may help. Many clothes have optical brighteners or fluorescent whitening agents (FWAs) applied, which help brighten colors. Unfortunately, if the FWA are damaged by sunlight, bleach, or simply age, there is nothing you can do.

Most information provided by the International Fabric