As the pace of recovery from the pandemic accelerates, the future of high street cleaners (and cleaners with good grounds in shopping malls) is uncertain because the recovery of this market sector is incomplete. However, the future of cleaners who are committed to the high-end market is much more optimistic, because the options open to customers with high-value and designer products are usually limited to being able to handle potentially high-risk items in some cases, and there are cleaning difficulties and Critical skills are required.
In this article, we will identify and provide solutions to solve some of the difficulties faced by cleaners who wish to expand their skill sets and confidently increase their turnover.
Designers and high-value fashion garments usually have a short production cycle, so despite their high initial prices, they may not be tested according to BS, ASTM, DIN or ISO standards to ensure a satisfactory response to the cleaning process. When cleaning problems occur, retailers and manufacturers often blame the cleaners and shirk any responsibility. The continued demand for fashion means that many collections have a very short shelf life before they are washed, sold or passed on to charity shops. However, experienced cleaners can learn to recognize warning signs; when checking at the counter, it is obvious that cleaning and after-sales service are the things designers don’t care about. The higher the value of the garment and the more unique the label, the more likely it is that there will be major problems that will trip up careless people. This month, we will study how to detect hazards and respond appropriately.
The importance of conducting initial inspections with customers in person at the counter cannot be overemphasized-dealing with customers' "friends" or "relatives" is wrong. The general manager of a chain of dry cleaners once instructed his manager to charge anyone who claims to be his friend or relative to seek quick, cheap cleaning at full price, without discount. He lost a few friends, but saved many aggravation and compensation claims.
Check the items carefully, and bring the silk scratches, leaking beads, abrasion damage, and any issues that affect the safe cleaning of the items (such as loose dyes) to the customer's attention. At this point, the value of the project should be established. The details of the inspection and value should be recorded, preferably taking pictures of the clothing. Mark the photo with a clean ticket number to help locate it in the future.
Anything that affects the safety and cleanliness of items should undergo a risk assessment, and where appropriate, the customer should fill out and sign an "owner's risk" form. We will suggest a suitable design for a user-friendly owner's risk table in the next issue of LCN.
It is not recommended to use pre-decontamination detergents or pre-decontamination with kit chemicals on high-value and brand-name products, and leave these on the fabric to be rinsed off by the dry cleaning process. These effects on sensitive fabrics, finishes and trims cannot be predicted with confidence and are not worth the risk at all. The safest option is to use standard decontamination techniques to completely remove stains on the decontamination table before cleaning. When working on the spotting table, the technician is in full control and can constantly check to ensure that there are no adverse effects. This is impossible for the procedure of leaving the product on the clothes, because the cleaner will not be aware of any problems before removing the clothes from the machine (and it is too late to do anything).
For high-value and brand-name clothing, pure chemicals or kit stain removers can be used to remove stains, provided that each is tested before use, carefully applied, and the area is thoroughly rinsed and dried before machine dry cleaning. It is recommended to use pure chemical reagents because they are safer and easier to use and rinse. This is especially true when discovering silk and lightweight delicate fabrics. However, for certain stains (a good example is old blood), the kit product may be more effective, provided that great care is taken to ensure that there is no loss of color. This is especially important if treatment with a protein remover does not eliminate areas of rust that may remain. For this, you finally need an iron remover or a 6% hydrogen fluoride solution (a strong chemical that must be rinsed and neutralized with 5% ammonia).
Many of the problems associated with cleaning high-value items are caused by trims, buttons, and beads. The rule here is to never assume anything! For example, plastic designer logos have caused many serious problems because the plastic partially dissolves in the solvent and locally stains clothes and other items in the load. Before cleaning, these plastic tags should always be removed. If the customer does not agree, please do not accept the costume!
If cleaned with perc, PVC and polyurethane trims are very dangerous. PVC becomes hard and brittle, and the polyurethane surface coating may crack or peel off. Cleaning in hydrocarbons is safer, but they still present risks. Whenever possible, metal badges and diamond decorations should be removed, but if this is not an option, covering them with a lightweight cotton fabric will help protect the garment itself and other items in the load from damage. It greatly reduces the risk, but it does not completely eliminate the risk.
Buttons, beads and sequins are always suspicious and must be checked to ensure that they are not affected by solvents. It is important to pay attention to any changes in appearance or surface effects. The British Standard Test Button Method (BS 4162) that can simulate beads or any trim. Take out a bead and immerse it in a small container of solvent for 30 minutes. Then remove it and press it into a folded piece of white cotton fabric. If it loses color or produces a sticky mess, do not put the item in the dry cleaning machine.
On vintage items, the sequins of each color are removed and steamed. Gelatin sequins will shrink in steam and will partially dissolve if wet washed. Once again, where possible, the safest option may be to remove the trim and buttons before cleaning. Finally, before accepting any time with effects such as glitter, beads or diamonds, please consider the risks very carefully. Explain any foreseeable but unavoidable risks and require the owner to sign the authorization. Do not clean with other items, and set the cleaning price appropriately.
Item: The beads on this dress are plastic coated with a solvent-resistant coating. The item was labeled, and since the beads are an integral part of the clothing, the cleaner assumed (very reasonable) that they would be covered by the care label.
Trouble: There are red dye marks on the clothes coming out of the washing machine, and hard plastic residues are stuck on them. To the horror of the cleaner, there were sticky plastic fragments on several other expensive clothes loaded!
Technical reason: During the Perc cleaning process, the imperfect coating allows the solvent to penetrate and partially dissolve the red plastic, which then stains clothes and other items in the load. Solvents may also penetrate through the threaded holes in the beads, bypassing the protective coating.
Liability: In this case, the responsibility rests with the manufacturer; the label on this garment is incorrect. However, the cleaner did accept responsibility for the damage to the other two items in the load, which were unable to remove fugitive dyes and sticky red plastic.
Future tip: Covering the beads with cotton material (or even better, a piece of nylon 6 "dye" fabric) may prevent the color from transferring to other items.
Item: A polyester dress with mottled stains on the side, marked with 30C washing to reduce rotation.
Problem: After applying the pre-spotting solution and putting it into the next wet load, the cleaner noticed that the surface finish of the treated area decreased when it was removed from the cleaner.
Technical reason: The time that the pre-detergent remains on the fabric before cleaning and the sensitivity of the fabric finishing agent to the solution used together lead to the partial loss of the finishing agent, thereby damaging the garment.
Responsibility: The cleaner must take responsibility here. The coating should be tested before the stain is treated, and if it is resistant, the stain should be removed on a decontamination table, and the area should be rinsed and dried.
Rectification: Unfortunately, this is impossible.