Consumer Tips

October 2018

Keeping Blanket Looking & Feeling Great

Blankets are essential items in every home. Blanket composition ranges from synthetic to natural fibers; from non-woven to woven fabrics; and from neutral colors to exotic prints. Caring for (non-electric) Blankets At some point in time, most blankets will need to be cleaned. It is always best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when cleaning blankets. Although the Federal Trade Commission does not require care labels on blankets, care instructions are usually provided on a permanent label or temporary hang tag. In most cases, blankets can be machine washed on a gentle cycle in cold to warm water and line dried or tumble dried low. Most blankets can also be dry cleaned (except for electric blankets, which can be damaged by dry cleaning). Wool is Special Wool blankets can be either of a woven or knit fabric construction and require special precautions when cleaning. The wrong water or drying temperatures may cause wool blankets to shrink and feel harsh and stiff. If the care label suggests, machine wash only in cold water on a gentle cycle with mild detergent, and line dry or tumble dry low. Even though you may follow the recommended care instructions, some wool blankets may still experience shrinkage.  Manufacturer industry standards for shrinkage in blankets allow as much as six percent after five washings. For example, a wool blanket that is 81 x 108 inches in size can shrink as much as 4 1/2 inches in one direction and 6 1/2 inches in the other direction, resulting in a blanket that is 76 1/2 x 101 1/2 inches in size.  Dry cleaning may not guarantee there will be no shrinkage, but it will greatly reduce the chance and amount of shrinkage in these cases.

 

Care Label Facts: Polar Fleece

With cold weather upon us and very low temperatures, people are needing an extra layer of clothing as they head outdoors.  A popular type of outerwear is polar fleece, also used as an inner layer. Polar fleece fabrics are made of a knit construction with a brushed or napped finish. Because of the nature of the fabric construction, garments made from this fabric have a tendency to pill during wear, handling and cleaning. No matter what care procedure is recommended— dry cleaning or washing—polar fleece can pill and start looking “ragged”.  We always clean polar fleece in a net bag to minimize further pilling. To smooth the nap and improve the appearance of the garment after cleaning, we also use a soft brush during finishing.

 

Hand Washing Label on Sweaters

  1. The care label on a sweater indicates it is hand washable. Can I wash it in a machine on a delicate cycle?
  2. 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 garment can be cleaned with detergent or soap with slow agitation by the machine.

Hand washing is a restrictive care process that minimizes the amount of abrasion a garment receives in cleaning.  If handwashable garments are machine washed in a gentle cycle, agitation may be further minimized by putting the item in a net bag.  Beware – even this procedure is in violation of the care label instruction, and places responsibility for damages on the launderer rather than the manufacturer.

We can beautifully take care of your sweaters, whether through hand washing or dry cleaning.  Most “hand wash” sweaters can be dry cleaned with much better results.   We dry all hand washed sweaters in a drying rack to avoid any shrinkage in the dryer or stretching on the drying line.  We can also take care of all the annoying pilling that occurs when sweaters are worn.

 

We Care for Bedspreads & Comforters

Bedding supplies typically last a long time. Comforters and bedspreads usually last five to six years on average. A bedspread is an outer covering for a bed that goes over the sheets and blankets. It is usually a decorative component of the bed set. A comforter is a quilted bed cover. The cover consists of an outer face fabric, a center batting (usually a fiber mat or down), and a backing fabric. These three layers are held together with a stitched pattern or simulated stitching. The comforter may be used for decorative purposes, like a bedspread, or in place of a blanket. Unlike clothing care labels, which provide instructions for how to properly care for the garments, the Federal Trade Commission’s Care Label Rule does not require permanent labels on home furnishings fabrics. Most bedspreads and comforters are sold with care instructions on a hang tag, a temporary label or on the packaging.

Possible Problems While bedspreads and comforters are often long-term purchases, they can be subject to many problems in use and care. Possible problems include:

  • Stains: Stains can easily occur from spillage or contact with various substances in use. Once they have contacted the fabric, they may be difficult to remove. Factors affecting removal include the nature of the staining material and the age of the stain. The thickness of bedspreads and comforters may also make removal difficult.
  • Color loss: Laundry may cause color loss, a print to be diminished in color or a print to lose its original brightness. All coordinating pieces should be drycleaned or laundered at the same time and with the same process to prevent color variances within the set.
  • Shrinkage: Shrinkage of two to three percent or more can easily occur if the fabric is not completely preshrunk. This may cause the bedspread to not fit properly or appear much too small.
  • Improper construction: If comforters are not quilted with closed channels or pockets the filling material can shift in cleaning and use. Proper construction helps prevent shifting, fabric tears, and uneven appearance.
  • Stitching under stress: Stitches could break during cleaning if quilting lines are more than eight to 10 inches apart. They may also break if the stitching thread was damaged in use or if the stitches are not secured properly at the end of the quilting line.
  • Preserving Your Household Textiles  While we are clothing care experts, we also know a thing or two about household textiles, which, in addition to bedspreads and comforters, include draperies and curtains, blankets, upholstery, slipcovers, decorative pillows, rugs, and heirloom textiles.We can minimize these potential problems during our dry cleaning processes. To protect and prolong the beauty of your household textiles remember these basic tips:
  1. Protect all furnishings from sunlight, fumes, and pets.
  2. Damage, like tears, should be repaired immediately.
  3. Vacuum and/or brush to remove dust regularly.
  4. Follow the manufacturer’s cleaning recommendations.
  5. Don’t allow items to become extremely soiled.
  6. Have stains removed immediately.
  7. Don’t store household textiles that are not clean and stain free.

 

Understanding Color Loss

Ever notice how sometimes matching colors in parts of an outfit can look faded or notice localized areas where the color has disappeared? Color loss in all its forms accounts for a good portion of the garments analyzed every year at the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute’s International Textile Analysis Laboratory. The lab is internationally recognized as the CSI of dry cleaning, deducing what happened to cause garments to become not ready-to-wear.

What causes color loss?

The reasons garments lose their color during wear and care are varied. Contact with bleach or a household cleaning product can disturb dyes, resulting in white discolorations. Direct sunlight can fade colors over time. Hair spray, hair preparations, and other moisture solutions can cause color loss. Perfumes and other alcohol-containing substances also have specific effects on color.

Other problems are inherent in the manufacturing of garments. Fugitive dyes – dyes that are not colorfast to water or cleaning solvents – are the biggest manufacturer-related problem reported by DLI’s lab. In these cases, the dyes on the garment dissolve when cleaned in dry cleaning solvent or water despite the instructions on the care label. The color loss may occur throughout the garment or be localized in certain areas. For instance, the pink flowers on a pink-and-white print may be solvent-soluble, and after dry cleaning, the garment may come out completely white.

Some dyes are more susceptible to loss of color than others. Pink, red, blue, and black are usually the most troublesome colors and can be expected to show some type of variance regardless of the precautions taken.

The degree of local color loss depends on the concentration of the staining substance, the dye’s sensitivity, and the length of time the substance remains on the fabric. Some substances can cause an immediate loss or change in color, while other substances can cause gradual color loss. Color loss caused by acidic or alkaline substances may be reversible if treated immediately, while other types of color loss, such as contact with alcohol or bleach, are permanent. Removal of the soils during washing or dry cleaning usually causes the color loss to become more apparent.

Common Color Loss Culprits

LIGHT FADING
Many consumers are not aware that dyes can fade if exposed to light, either sunlight or artificial light. With this type of color loss, fading is generally apparent on only one side of the fabric. The reverse side is usually unaffected. Certain dyes, such as blues, violets, or greens, are more prone to this type of fading than others.

WATER SENSITIVITY
Some dyes, such as pink, lavender, and red, can undergo color reactions (usually red to blue) from contact with water or any water-bearing substance, including perspiration. If this color reaction is noted soon after it happens, it can often be reversed by your drycleaner. However, in many cases, these dyes are so sensitive that restoration is not possible.

FUME FADING
Fume fading (gas fading) develops when air comes into contact with heated surfaces and forms nitrogen oxide gases. These gases then react with certain dyes, usually those found on acetate and nylon, and cause them to change color (usually blue to red). Fume fading usually occurs on both sides of the fabric.

ACID/ALKALINE SENSITIVITY
Some dyes will exhibit a color change when exposed to an acidic or alkaline substance. Contact with fruit juice, beverages, foodstuffs, and other acidic substances can cause blue dyes to turn red; contact with perspiration, household chemicals, toiletries, and other alkaline solutions can turn blue or green dyes yellow. Alkalies can also decompose fluorescent brighteners on white fabrics, causing them to discolor. If treated immediately, most acid/alkaline color reactions can be neutralized and corrected by your professional cleaner.

ALCOHOL
Contact with alcohol can dissolve certain dyes, resulting in permanent color loss. This is especially common on dyes used on acetate and silk. The alcohol content of most colognes and perfumes is capable of causing this reaction.

BLEACH
Consumers are often not aware of the harmful effects home cleansers, hair products, floor scouring products, disinfectants, and other agents can have on their clothes. Some dyes are extremely sensitive to bleach, and even mildly concentrated bleaches such as chlorine can cause immediate, permanent color loss.

Cleaning and Storing Garments to Prevent Insect Damage

Mysteriously appearing holes may be the result of insect damage. Often the holes may not be readily apparent until after cleaning. Garments that have been stored for a long time are particularly prone to insect damage. Moth damage is commonly seen on wool fabrics, but beetles, silverfish, roaches, and other insects feed on stains and sizings on fabrics made of other fibers. The type of fabric or food substance insects are attracted to determines whether the damage they cause is direct or indirect.

Direct damage occurs when insects such as webbing cloth moths, casemaking cloth moths, and sometimes termites, feed directly on the fabric. This group of insects attacks wool, mohair, natural bristles, fur, feathers, and down. They also damage blended fibers such as wool/polyester – dispelling the notion that the use of synthetic fibers immunizes the fabrics against insect damage.

Indirect damage occurs when insects such as silverfish, beetles, and roaches feed on leftover food, perspiration, beverage spills, and starch on the fabric. For this reason, any stains, especially food and beverage residue, should be removed from a garment before it is stored. Prevention of insect damage includes cleaning garments and using mothballs or cedar chests. Cleaning discourages insects from making their home in your garments.

Using moth balls or cedar chests or chips can help prevent insect damage. The odor of mothballs may repel larvae and insects if the area of use is enclosed, thus ensuring a high concentration of odor. Suspend the mothballs above the garments; do not place them directly on the garments. The scent of cedar chests or chips repels insects, but it is the air tightness of the chest that protects the garments from insect damage.  One problem with using mothballs is the lingering odor after the garments are removed from storage. If airing out the clothing does not remove the mothball odor, we can remove it through dry cleaning.  In some cases we may need to use an ozone generator, which works by passing dry air through a high frequency electrical field. The resulting electrical discharge splits an oxygen molecule into two free atoms, allowing them to combine with an oxygen molecule that has not been split to form ozone. The contact between ozone and the odors embedded in the textiles causes oxidation to recur, eliminating the odors and releasing oxygen.

Your garments will love you for not leaving them to the moths.

Preserving Wedding Memories

You carefully planned your wedding. Then you spent hours trying on dresses, finally finding the perfect gown. Once the day is over how do you care for your beautiful dress to either preserve it as a keepsake, or perhaps to share with your own daughter to wear on her wedding day. We are here to help – you will need a professional’s help before storing this treasure. Beware of invisible stains from food, beverages, and body oil. If these stains are not properly cleaned, they may become permanent. Therefore, it is important to point out any stains or spills before cleaning. Most wedding gowns have some sort of decorative trim. Be sure to inspect these trims with us prior to cleaning since many trims are not made to withstand the regular drycleaning process. For example, many beads, glitter, sequins, and laces are attached to gowns with adhesives that dissolve during normal drycleaning. Some beads and glitter are made of plastics or covered with surface coatings that are not solvent- resistant. In many of these cases, the trim becomes separated from the dress or altered in some way. The dry cleaning solvent we use is much gentler than “perc”, the standard solvent used in the dry cleaning industry.  While we can not make any guarantees, our solvent is much less harmful to most glues and trims and beads.  Over the years we have successfully cleaned many gowns that would not have been cleanable in “perc”.

Storage Tips for Wedding Gowns

Let us heirloom your gown in a special storage box that will help prevent contamination.

  • Store your garment in a cool, dry place. Do not store it in a basement or attic. Basement dampness can cause mildew; attic heat can promote yellowing of the fabric.
  • If you are storing a long wedding gown on a hangar, sew straps to the waistline of the dress to relieve pressure on the shoulders from the weight of the dress. Wrap the dress in a protective white sheet or muslin covering.
  • Whether the gown is hung or boxed, the bodice should be stuffed with white tissue paper to prevent wrinkles. It is a myth that blue tissue paper helps to preserve a wedding gown. It can add up to disaster if the gown ever gets wet. Blue dye can transfer onto the gown, making restoration very difficult, if not outright impossible. Use pure white tissue paper only.
  • Never store headpieces, veils, shoes, bridal bouquet, or other accessories with your gown.
  • Inspect your gown from time to time during storage (your anniversary date is a good time to remember).  If not cleaned prior to storage, stains not initially apparent could appear later, and should be tended to immediately.

Preserving the quality of your wedding gown may be one of the finest gifts you can give yourself and a loved one.

How Do You Like Your Shirts?

Starch and sizing additives can increase the firmness of fabrics, particularly on dress shirts. These additives can protect and harm shirts at the same time.

Shirts undergo two types of abrasions. Flat abrasion occurs when the shirt rubs against another surface. Flex abrasion refers to the stretching of  fibers when the wearer bends an elbow or otherwise stretches the material.

Starch helps protect shirts by enabling them to withstand higher degrees of flat abrasion. However, since starch stiffens the fibers and makes them less flexible, it reduces the shirt’s ability to withstand flex abrasion.

Starch’s primary function is to add body or stiffness to a fabric resulting in little flexibility. This lack of flexibility causes the fabric to snap under extreme pressure rather than stretch, decreasing the fabric’s tensile strength.

It all depends on how you want your shirts to look vs. how long you want them to last. The life expectancy of a shirt can be shortened by the use of starches and sizings because these additives reduce the ability to bend, stretch, and straighten during use. Balancing out those negatives are the bonuses of having better whiteness retention, a crisper look, and increased stain resistance.

Beyond Cleaning – We Do More Than the Wash

Here Are Some Of Our Lesser-Known Services

We specialize in taking quality care of your garments, which (with today’s busy lifestyle) is a relief because laundry is one less chore you want to deal with at home.

The beauty of dropping your clothes off with us is how convenient it is.   We do the work, and when you come back your clothes are ready to wear.  But the convenience we provide doesn’t end there. We also offer lesser-known services that many customers may not have noticed or given much thought to before. Here are a few of the extras a we can provide:

Laundry

We don’t just provided dry cleaning for clothing.  We also launder and press all clothing such as blue jeans and knit shirts.  There is a difference in how your laundered clothes look after our professional cleaning and pressing.

Draperies

We clean as well as take-down and re-install almost all kinds of draperies.  Our professional installer has over 40 years of experience and can handle any installation.

Household Textiles
We don’t just clean clothes. We also process household items such as blankets, comforters, decorative pillows, rugs, and even upholstery and draperies.

Wedding Gowns
We clean and heirloom these precious possessions for a sentimental keepsake or for future use.

Alterations and Repairs
We can save you a bundle if your body changes shape or size by altering your clothes length or width.  We can also do things such as replacing jacket or coat linings.

We also do minor repairs such as tighten loose buttons or sew on new ones, fix hems or open seams, repair or patch holes and tears, among many others.

By altering your garments you can save the time and money of going out and purchasing a new wardrobe.

Waterproofing
We have access to some of the most powerful water repellents on the market. Stay dry by taking your wet-weather gear in for a tune-up regularly or after particularly harsh use.

Storage
We can store your out-of-season garments. This is great for customers with little storage space at home.

Old Glory
We proudly clean the American flag without charge.  We have been providing this free service since we began our business in 1927.

Restoration
In addition to preservation, we specialize in the restoration of old wedding gowns, heirloom items, and antique textiles. These items often are very delicate and require great care. Our specialists have the expertise to take in these items, although the level they can restore them to depends on their condition at the time they are brought in. It is not uncommon, though, to restore a wedding gown originally worn by a bride-to-be’s grandmother well enough that the bride can wear it on her wedding day.

Extending the Life of Garments
Frequent cleaning prolongs the life of a garment. Stains set with age, making the garment unwearable, and 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.  Most people are well aware of the cleaning services we offer in relation to clothing, but there are many other services available here at Gold Medal Cleaners.

Is Club Soda Really a Miracle Stain Remover? 

Does club soda really work on spills? Everyone “knows” club soda is the ultimate remedy for instant stain removal, but is it really all it’s cracked up to be? Our 107-year-old professional trade association, the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI), recently completed an in-depth study of the merits of club soda versus plain old water in stain removal, and as members, we’re pleased to share their findings. The short answer is “yes” club soda can be a big help in the short term, but “no” it is not the end-all, be-all stain removal miracle it is made out to be. When applied immediately to 10 commonplace food stains DLI tested, both club soda and water removed anywhere from some to most of the stain. However, neither treatment will completely remove the stains and if left untreated the remaining stain residues can become permanent stains over time or when the garment is cleaned. On the 10 common spills that DLI’s stain removal experts used for the test, they found that after blotting a spill with either club soda or water some or most visible traces of the substance were removed; however, an analysis under ultraviolet light showed that at least a portion of nearly every stain remained after club soda or water was used. Therefore, although it is best to try and rinse out the stain with water immediately after contact with the clothing, it is then also advisable to take the garment to a professional cleaner who can completely remove the last traces. Point out to the cleaner the area of the stain, the type of staining substance, and what attempts you made to reduce the initial spillage. If this is not done as soon as possible, the invisible remaining residue can oxidize over time and leave a permanent discoloration later, which in many cases on some fabrics cannot be removed.

For Best Results, Act Fast When it comes time to remove the stain, the chances are greatly increased if club soda (or water) is used to rinse the stain before it dries. After it dries the degree of effectiveness drops considerably. In a coffee stain, for example, there may be sugar residue present that you may not be able to see, but it can carmelize during the drying or pressing processes, leaving a yellowish stain. A stain removal expert can remove this residue if he or she knows the stain was there in the first place. It is always recommended that you mention any spills or attempts to remove stains at the counter. This way we will be better prepared to restore your garment to a like-new appearance. There are also some stains that club soda actually makes worse. Ballpoint ink is almost always made up of water and solvent components. If water or club soda is used to remove this kind of stain, it could set the stain permanently into the fabric. So, with ballpoint stains, it is best to leave them to us. Club soda or water will hold the stain off until you can get the garment to Gold Medal Cleaners: we can usually remove the stains completely if you bring it in without delay.

Recycle Your Hangers

If you are a frequent dry cleaning customer, you may have more hangers in your closet than you know what to do with. Rather than throw out the ones you are not reusing, why not recycle them by returning them to us? More than just freeing up closet space, recycling hangers is good for the environment – which is one reason Gold Medal Cleaners participates in recycling programs.  Our professional association, The Drycleaning and Laundry Institute, recycled more than 25 million hangers last year with our help and that of other cleaners.

Q – Does frequent dry cleaning shorten the life of a garment?

A –  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 soils such as food, beverages, feces, perspiration, and oils from hair on the clothes and will cause further damage. Research was conducted by the Department of Clothing and Textiles at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in cooperation with the School of Textiles at North Carolina State System, which was developed in Japan. The research showed that the various drycleaning processes have no negative effect on the properties of wool in men’s suiting fabrics.