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

Cleaning garments with leather or suede trim -- a follow up

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In a post entitled " When your dry cleaner destroys your leather- or suede-trimmed garment," I expressed the opinion that the vast majority of dry cleaners are either reluctant to clean garments with embellishments or trims, or, when they do attempt to clean such garments, typically produce results that range from spotty to disastrous.

To support that opinion, I showed before and after photos of a Rachel Roy cap sleeve crepe dress with a leather neck and bust that had been cleaned (or rather experimented on) by an ordinary cleaner. The dress had been purchased from Neiman Marcus at a cost of around $500.

Within days of that post, I started receiving profanity-laced comments from folks who I presume to be ordinary dry cleaners. Most castigated me for implying that they lacked basic technical skills (apparently a number of dry cleaners read this blog!).

There was one comment, however, that really peaked my interest - not because of the substance of the comment, but, rather, because of the source of the comment. So I've decided to reproduce that comment verbatim (including all grammatical and spelling errors) ...

"To say it as nicely as I can, I think the writer is full of crap and completely devoid of textile cleaning and renovation. This story sounds like a shill for Rave of Arizona. I suspect the care label states to dryclean only and the garment was made offshore probably India, China or some third word country. It is obvious the garment is not serviceable with the care label instructions.

Your description of drycleaners is pretty negative and you state your opinions as facts. In a perfect world all fabrics, dyes and trims would be completely safe to dryclean, wetclean or wash. Unfortunately this isn't the case. Look at the country of origin of many new garments and you will see that they are made offshore for cost savings. And, frequently have a full retail price mark-up and do not show the manufacturing savings int heir prices. Actually Wal-Mart, Pennys, Sears and others have more reliable clothing for sale than any boutique or specialty retailer."

And the source of the comment?

Everett Childers, a dry cleaning columnist, consultant and trainer.

Before I respond to Mr. Childers' comment, let me say that I have read many of Mr. Childers' articles over the years. I even remember studying his textbook "The Master Drycleaners Notebook" about 20 years ago. Fact is, I still have it on my bookshelf. Many dry cleaners would do well to study this book and even take a one-on-one spotting course that might be offered by Mr. Childers.

That having been said, I was disappointed with the comment. Instead of emphasizing the need to improve technical skills, Mr. Childers appears to be apologizing for the drycleaning industry.

Let me respond specifically to each point made by Mr. Childers ...

1.  He says that the writer is full of crap.

My response: The writer is spot on the money. The overwhelming majority of dry cleaners are clueless when it comes to garment care. And that's not just my opinion. In an article published in the Western Cleaner and Launderer in January, 2001, dry cleaning consultant Kenny Slatten voiced the same opinion and I quote: "We think we do good work. But a shockingly high number in our ranks simply don't have a clue what professional garment care is all about." What was true in 2001 is even more valid today.

2.  He says that the writer is devoid of textile cleaning and renovation (experience).

My response: I'd bet that the overwhelming majority of the clients Mr. Childers has consulted with or trained over the past 10 years couldn't hold a candle to the cleaning and restoration skills demonstrated daily by the technicians at RAVE FabriCARE.

3.  He says that the writer is a shill for Rave of Arizona.

My response: Thanks for the compliment. There are approximately 26,000 drycleaners in the USA and the fact that he refers to us as "Rave of Arizona" implies that he is familiar with our work. Actually, I like the ring to "Rave of Arizona". Like Toms of Maine. Or Fredericks of Hollywood.

4.  He says that the writer's description of dry cleaners is pretty negative.

My response: I wouldn't characterize the writer's opinion as "pretty negative". I would use the term informed. Informed by the hundreds of screwed up garments brought in or sent in to RAVE FabriCARE every year.

5.  He says that the writer presents his opinion as facts.

In my opinion, garment care involves a combination of science, skills and judgement. It's not all black and white. If that were the case, anyone (and I do mean anyone) can buy a textbook on stain removal, buy some equipment, hang up a shingle that says "CLEANERS", and then sit back and watch the cash rolling in.

In my opinion, any decision on the specific treatment of a garment, particularly those with embellishments and trims, often involves "opinion". And, it's my opinion that most ordinary cleaners have no clue how to care for garments with embellishments or trims, let alone how to get a mustard stain out of a cheap white, cotton/spandex blouse.

6.  He says that in a perfect world, fabrics, dyes and trims would be completely safe to dry clean, wet clean or wash.

My response: The care label on garments "made in India, China, or some third world country" is often used as a crutch by ordinary dry cleaners to justify their lack of skills or even their negligence. I'm not saying that every garment with embellishments or trims can be safely cleaned. What I am saying is that many can be safely cleaned - despite their apparent "lack of serviceability" - if only the dry cleaner had the necessary skills to do so.

Take the rather expensive Gucci silk/spandex/leather slacks featured below. It's made in Italy. Not quite third world. And it's eminently cleanable with the application of some knowhow. So how come the cleaner who originally cleaned it failed so miserably?

BEFORE

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AFTER

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PARTICULARS

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How can I help you?



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, a dry cleaning columnist, consultant and trainer.

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