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

Shirts and blouses: to dryclean or launder?

Together with sweaters, shirts and blouses probably constitute the bulk of many wardrobes. Without doubt, the most common question I'm asked is how to care for these garments: Dryclean or launder?

There's no simple answer. It all depends ...

That's because there are a number of factors that go into the decision whether to dryclean or professionally launder a shirt or blouse. In many cases, the decision is a judgement call on the part of the client and/or the cleaner.Care label

The primary factors that should be considered in the dryclean vs. launder decision are:

Care label

Shirts or blouses with care labels that state "dryclean only", "machine washable, for best results dryclean," "hand wash, line dry and press at low temperatures" are examples of shirts and blouses that should be drycleaned and hand ironed.

A word of caution is in order.

Just because a shirt or blouse has a care label identifying the manufacturer's recommended cleaning instructions doesn't mean that the care label is technically accurate and complete.

I would estimate that 20% of all garments we receive contain care labeCorbis vuy w-blue shirt BXP64087.jpgls that are technically inaccurate or incomplete to some degree or another. The bottom line is that nothing beats informed judgement when it comes to making the dryclean vs. launder decision.

Stains

The nature of the stains - oil-based or water-based or both - will dictate whether the shirt or blouse should be

* drycleaned,
* wetcleaned/laundered,
* drycleaned and then wetcleaned/laundered, or
* wetcleaned/laundered and then drycleaned.

 Texture

Fabrics with an embossed, ribbed or raised feel and/or look should be drycleaned and hand ironed to protect the fabric texture.Texture w/button

Buttons

Garments with "non-standard" buttons should be drycleaned and hand ironed.

Examples of "non-standard" buttons include colored shell buttons; concave shell buttons with a thin, raised rim; shell buttons with a thickness greater than standard; shell buttons with a diameter greater than standard; brand signature/monogrammed buttons; metal buttons; plastic buttons with metal rims; glass buttons; painted buttons; buttons with metal or plastic shanks; etc.

(Aside: in many cases, these types of buttons should also be removed prior to cleaning and replaced after finishing using the original button sewing technique, usually the "cross stitch" or "parallel stitch")Buttons

Trim

As a general rule, garments with trim and embellishments should be drycleaned and hand ironed.

A true quality cleaner should be able to clean almost any shirt or blouse with trim or embellishments. Expertly. Safely. And effectively. Whether it's beads, sequins, rhinestones or paillettes, plastic, vinyl or rubber; paint, glitter or silk screen; appliques or embroidery, suede, leather or fur; multi-media comprising fabrics and skins; feathers; high-tech fabrics.

Color

Dark colored shirts and blouses should be drycleaned and hand ironed to protect the intensity of the colors.Corbis guy w-dark blue shirt 42-15445719.jpg

Dark colored shirts and blouses that are laundered will tend to fade over time, especially along the seams of the collar, cuffs and plackets - even if laundered in cold water on a short cycle.

Fabric

Many shirts and blouses contain silk, linen, rayon (also known as lynocell and tencel), nylon and/or polyester (including cotton/polyester blends that are 60% polyester or greater). These shirts and blouses should be drycleaned and hand ironed.

Elasticity

Many shirts and blouses contain varying amounts of spandex (also known as lycra) - anything from 2% to 20%. These shirts and blouses should be drycleaned and hand ironed.

BrandBrand Kiton shirt

Consideration should be given to the brand when making the decision to dryclean or launder. Armani (black label), Attolini, Borelli, Brioni, Canali, Chavet, Escada, Ford, Gucci, Kiton, Lorenzini, Loro Piana, Prada, Ralph Lauren (purple and black label), Ricci and Varvatos are examples of brands that should be drycleaned and hand ironed.

Preference

Personal preference plays a role in the dryclean vs. launder decision.

Some clients want all their shirts and blouses -- casual, dress and formal; white, pastel and colored -- drycleaned and hand ironed.

A true quality cleaner will be happy to honor such requests. They'll even guarantee that your white cotton shirts and blouses that are drycleaned will be spectacularly bright. As bright as your white cotton shirts and blouses that are laundered in hot water with caustic, industrial grade detergents and bleaches.Fit

Fit

Shirts and blouses with a classic fit may be suitable for professional laundering and partial finishing on automated equipment ... provided, of course, that none of the factors described above apply.

However, fitted and semi-fitted shirts and blouses that have a contoured body should be drycleaned and hand ironed.

Summary

I'm sure many ordinary cleaners will disagree with these general guidelines. I have no problem with that. It's their prerogative to treat your fine garments in any way they please in their never ending quest to "produce" garments at the lowest possible cost and in the fastest possible time. They'll continue to produce ordinary, bang and hang cleaning; I'll continue to focus on true quality cleaning.

Unsure how a specific shirt or blouse should be processed? Consult a true quality cleaner. They'll be happy to advise and help.

How can I help you?


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