We provide extraordinary care for fine
garments & household textiles
I live in
sunny California and have quite a number of Tommy Bahama and Nat
Nast short sleeve silk shirts. I've noticed that my dark colored
Tommy Bahama silk shirts (particularly the black ones) tend to fade
rather quickly. My dry cleaner says it is the manufacturer's fault.
Please enlighten me.
Bill, Laguna Beach, California
Hi Bill. The fading of dark colored Tommy Bahama shirts is a
fairly common complaint.
Here's my basic explanation....
Typically, these dark colored casual garments are not
manufactured from fabric that has been woven from thread that has
been dyed prior to weaving. They're manufactured from fabric that
has been dyed after weaving.
These fabrics are called "top-dyed" or "surface printed"
fabrics. Tommy Bahama print and dark colored garments are mostly
top-dyed or surface printed.
Top-dyed or surface printed garments tend to fade or streak (a
process known as "crocking") when cleaned in
perchloroethylene ("perc") or synthetic petroleum, the
dry cleaning solvents used by 97% of all cleaners.
A true quality cleaner should always be able to maintain the
intensity of your colors. Even on top-dyed or surface printed
For two reasons...
One, they'll use a dry cleaning fluid such as
siloxane that's very gentle on fabrics. Fact is,
siloxane is six times less aggressive than perc and two times less
aggressive than petroleum. So gentle, it's been used for decades as
a base ingredient in many of the personal care products you use on
a daily basis. Such as shampoos, antiperspirants, deodorants and
Two, they'll use a dry cleaning fluid such as
siloxane that's chemically inert. Meaning that the dry
cleaning fluid does not react chemically with garment dyes,
"bleeding" or "fading" the colors.
Does your cleaner guarantee the color intensity of all your
casual garments that are "top-dyed" or "surface printed"?
Or does your cleaner point to the care label that states
something to the effect that the color is intended to fade
over time (I don't think you bought that black silk shirt because
you wanted it to fade to gray)? Or does your cleaner attribute any fading of
color to a "manufacturing defect" involving fabric or dye?
That's the difference between true quality cleaning and
ordinary, "bang and hang" cleaning.
If you have a question for Stu, send it to email@example.com
How can I help you?
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