Posted on July 8, 2010 - by admin
Almost anyone who owns a variety of clothes has seen that pesky little “Dry Clean Only” tag on at least a few of them. Not only is dry cleaning confusing but it can also be expensive. A great question is what, exactly, makes these items of clothing so special? Having to dry clean a cashmere coat or a pea coat makes sense but what about those random shirts that say “Dry Clean Only?” Handing those over to professionals may seem a little ridiculous.
Anyone who dry cleans can tell you that they’ve forgotten to pick their clothes up at least once or, sometimes worse, they’ve forgotten to drop their dry cleaning off at all, though they were absolutely sure that they had. This is why, if clothing requires dry cleaning before a big date, it’s always a good idea to do so a week in advance and set reminders so the dry cleaning isn’t forgotten either at the store or at home.
While separating clothes and making a special trip just for them to be cleaned may seem unnecessary and annoying, the truth is that some clothes just cannot be washed at home. Some people just go, “What’s the worst that can happen?” and pop their clothes right in the washer or, worse, the dryer. The washer isn’t so bad, especially if the load of clothing is washed with cold water, but by putting the load of laundry into the dryer, dry-clean-only clothes are pretty much guaranteed to never fit again. However, if there are children in the household, their stuffed animals will surely enjoy the new coats and shirts that have shrunk so far below their original size to actually be able to fit onto teddy bears.
Despite this cautionary tale, some things that say “Dry Clean Only” just don’t need to be dry cleaned. A great tip to follow, if unsure, is the one year rule. This rule states that one should follow the instructions on the tag for a year and, after that year, to try select items of clothing, preferably those that are neither silk, cashmere, or wool, with a normal household treatment of washing and drying like any other clothing item.
Identifying What NEEDS to be Dry Cleaned
Figuring out which clothes need dry cleaning is extremely simple. After all, they do put tags on clothing for a reason and clothing that requires dry cleaning is generally marked with a nice, big, bold “DRY CLEAN ONLY.” However, a lot of people don’t like tags and in a fit of frustration rip or cut the tag off. While this would not normally be a problem, having something that requires dry cleaning would definitely make the situation far more problematic than it would have been on a normal light sweater. If the tag is removed, make sure to save it until the instructions can be written down on an index card. This way all of the important information on the tag is saved even though it’s off of the clothes. Make sure to store the index cards that no doubt slowly pile up somewhere easy to remember.
Some things, like suits and clothing items made out of silk, will almost always require dry cleaning. However, with suits, it is not always necessary to wash them after each use. Simply hang up the suits to air out and, after a few hours in a well ventilated room, check to see if the suit jackets have any odors or stains and put aside the items that need to go to get dry cleaning immediately.
It’s no secret that dry cleaning can definitely take up a good deal of money if it’s required fairly regularly. However, there are a few items that are fairly cheap that can help save the trip that it would take to the dry cleaners. A lint roller is a suit or pea coat owner’s best friend as running the roller over the clothing will help to remove lint and other bits that get stuck on throughout the day. A refresher spray can help with any odor that may exist and the clothes should be hung in an open room for several hours after being applied. If the articles of clothing don’t pass muster after that, they probably need to go in for dry cleaning.
Even though some people may view dry cleaning as a hassle in the end, it’s really not. After all, most dry cleaners allow pick up and drop off at their door and some even have a delivery service. Finding a dry cleaner on the way to work or school really isn’t that difficult as there are a good number of dry cleaning services that locate themselves in busy areas intentionally which makes them easy to get to.
What ARE They Doing At The Dry Cleaners?
The process of dry cleaning is actually fairly interesting to learn about. The machine that is used for dry cleaning is kind of like a combination of the washer and dryer that is easily found in any house.
First the garments are checked for anything loose like pens and paper as both will dissolve upon meeting the solvent. Next, they are checked for specific things like the color, stains, and anything like fasteners which require additional protection from the process.
The load of clothing is placed within a basket, or drum, at the core of the machine and solvent is placed in the outer shell which rotates around the core. After a normal cycle, the machine then begins the extraction process which is designed to remove the solvent from the clothing by the machine spinning the load of clothing at 350 to 450 rpm, or rotations per minute. After all of the solvent is out, the machine starts a drying cycle.
During this cycle the clothing is tumbled within a stream of air around 145 degrees Fahrenheit which removes any traces of the solvent that are still left over.
Finally, after the drying cycle is finished, a deodorizing, or aeration, cycle begins which takes out the last bit of solvent and after this cycle the garments are ready for finishing.
While this may seem easy to do and may make dry cleaning seem like a waste, the fact remains that dry cleaners have access to cleaning supplies and machines that other people just don’t have. There are items of clothing that need dry cleaning and this cannot be changed and there is not a way around it.
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