By Jeff Gardner | Sep 09, 2011
Traditionally, drycleaners have taken the blame for all of the problems their customers experience with their garments – even if the fault (as it often does) lies with the garment manufacturers.
It doesn’t matter. The drycleaner usually takes the fall.
Therefore, on a regular basis, the drycleaning industry will include alerts in its newsletters, warning store owners about different types of fabrics or specific garments that are “risky” to dryclean. And that list is getting longer and longer by the day.
In fact, there are certain garments by certain manufacturers where some drycleaners will actually have their customers sign off on the job before they even attempt to clean the items, because they know just how cheaply the garments have been made.
As a rather bizarre rule of thumb, the more expensive a garment the cheaper it is made.
So, how does this affect you?
By offering a wash-dry-fold and/or commercial accounts service, you are effectively a member of the professional garment care industry, just the like the drycleaners. As such, one thing that’s crucial to understand is that today’s manufacturers are consistently trying to find ways to make things more inexpensively.
For example, it’s much cheaper to dye a fabric after it has been woven, rather than pre-dying it beforehand. But the big problem with that – for consumer and laundry owners – is that the dying process then is not very secure, and the colors likely will run. And the darker the color, the more it will run.
Today, reds will run until you throw them away. It used to stop after a few washings, but now these items just continually fade. It’s the same with most dark colors.
Of course, the garment manufacturers are asking us to wash their items in cold water, which doesn’t allow them to get as clean as possible. Also, any of the solvents or cleaning solutions you’re using are more likely to break that color loose.
For their part, the detergent manufacturers have been trying to develop ways to keep the dyes in these garments longer. And we’ve been re-dying clothes forever – with optical brighteners and bluing agents for whites (to bring them back that bright look). That’s why a lot of detergents and fabric softeners are blue, because they’ve got a bluing agent in them. It’s a natural way to make light reflect off the garment more effectively, which in turn makes it appear brighter and cleaner.
At my laundry, we often use dye-catching tools and additives in our wash-dry-fold laundry – again, because we have no control over what types of garments our customers are bringing in and, ultimately, we end up being held completely responsible for whatever happens to those garments.
We’ve had to come up with ways to wash today’s garments efficiently – otherwise we’d be tearing up all of our washers with just small loads of red clothes and blue clothes and so on, or we’d have to tag and separate each garment.
Above all, whatever cleaning methods you choose, you need to be aware of what’s happening out there in the apparel industry – and you have to protect yourself and your wash-dry-fold customers. Be sure to inform them that certain issues with their clothing might not be your fault. The way today’s garments are made, many of them simply can’t withstand the abuse of cleaning.