True Quality CleaningStraight talk about caring for fine garments & household textiles from an expert who calls it like it is. In plain English.

The shocking world of ordinary drycleaning & shirt laundry

the shocking world of ordinary cleaningThere are over 26,000 cleaners in the USA. And probably 99.5% of these cleaners believe that "cleaning" is a relatively simple operation ...

Take 50 to 60 "laundry" shirts. Scrub the collars and cuffs with a hard-bristled brush. Sort them into two loads: "lights" and "darks". Then subdivide each load into "starch" and "no starch".
Next, stuff a load into a 60 lb. shirt washer, adding hot (even boiling) water, harsh caustic industrial grade detergents and bleach. Starch with cheap synthetic glue. Remove the damp shirts from the washer and run them through a series of pressing machines that have all the subtlety and precision of a sledgehammer. At a rate of 40 to 50 shirts (or more) per hour. Then, using a hand iron, touch up the underarms (maybe) and crease the sleeves in an attempt to conceal any evidence of machine pressing and pass them off as a "hand finished" or "hand ironed" shirt. Finally, cram the finished shirts into narrow poly bags so that they're returned looking only slightly better than the day they were sent in or dropped off. Or machine fold them for that desired "slept in" look.

But wait, there's more ...

Take 50 to 60 "dryclean" garments. Sort them into "lights" and "darks". Load them into a 60 lb.
drycleaning machine with little or no pre-spotting (pre-drycleaning stain removal). Add detergent (the cheapest one), moisture or water (to "remove" any water-based stains), fragrance (to disguise the smell of the emulsified oils and fats in the solvent) and sizing (to stiffen your garments and render them quicker to press). Toss them about in a relatively aggressive, dye-stripping, toxic solvent (perchloroethylene or synthetic petroleum) for 10 minutes or less. Extract at a high RPM and dry at a high temperature to further minimize the total wash/extract/dry cycle time. Then, machine press the garments and "squirt" them with steam from a hand iron in an attempt to conceal any evidence of machine pressing. At a rate of 30 to 40 pants per hour per presser and 20 to 30 non-pant garments per hour per presser. About 1½ to 3 minutes per garment. Finally, stuff the finished garments into narrow poly bags and cram them onto a holding rack or conveyor.

What's more, many of your drycleanable cottons and linens may, in fact, not have been
drycleaned at all. They've probably been washed or wetcleaned, tossed into a dryer, machine
pressed, and then "squirted" with steam. Even if you specifically requested "dryclean only". Even if the care label said "dryclean only".

Voila, they're done! With almost no investment of time or skill. They're in by 9:00 and out by
5:00. Picked up on day 1 and delivered on day 3.

Welcome to the world of "professional cleaning". Where every cleaner claims to be a true quality cleaner.

Unfortunately, fine garment care - true quality cleaning - requires more than just a knowledge of loading and unloading a shirt washer or dryclean machine, and banging those garments out on a press. And more than just an assembly-line cleaning and pressing operation where every garment is barcoded and treated as interchangeable irrespective of original cost. Based on this definition, I could teach any Hallmark Card store employee to be a drycleaner/presser in 2 weeks. (Sorry, I take that back. In 1 week.)

Truth is, fine garment care - true quality cleaning - requires an extensive knowledge of and
commitment to the art and science of textiles, garment construction, cleaning and hand ironing, a never-ending commitment to process improvement (no matter how marginal), a stubbornness to reject labor saving technologies that negatively impacts true quality, an unyielding commitment to invest in true quality rather than extract every last penny out of the cleaning, hand ironing and packaging process, a sense of pride in one's work, a passion for perfection (to the extent that perfection is achievable), the time necessary to "do the job right," and most importantly, a personal philosophy that says that true quality has inherent meaning and value - for the cleaner, his employees and his clients.

In this blog, I'll be exploring a wide range of issues associated with caring for your fine garments and household textiles. I hope you'll join me along this journey and participate in the
conversation. Your fine garments and household textiles will love you for that.

How can I help you?

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