Dark colored shirts: Launder & machine press or dry clean & hand iron?
By: Stu Bloom
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Poor garment care = launder and machine press
A customer walked into the Prada store clutching 6 of his new and relatively new, dark colored, cotton shirts.
Apparently, he’d dropped off these shirts at an “organic dry cleaner” for cleaning. When he picked up his order, he was stunned by the results they delivered to him. More specifically:
- The shirts had lost their overall intensity of color
- The inside of the neckband had a whitish hue
- The seams and collar stay pockets on the collar had a whitish hue
- The outside of the cuffs had a whitish hue and vertical “lines”
- The fabric on the inside of the cuffs had multiple “lines” of all shapes and sizes
- The entire shirt had a stiff texture similar to a laundered, starched dress shirt
- Many of the fabric-matching colored shell buttons were scratched and/or chipped
- The cleaner had glued or heat sealed a bar code onto an inside seam of each shirt.
Clearly upset, he asked store associates if there was anything that could be done to “save” his shirts.
As a courtesy to the customer, Prada called RAVE FabriCARE.
Upon examination of the shirts, it was clear what had occurred…
The cleaner had washed these dark colored shirts in an industrial washing machine with industrial grade detergents (and who knows what else). Then they machine pressed the damp shirts on a series of machines — one for the collar and cuff, one for the sleeves and one for the body. Machines that have all the subtlety of medieval torture. At a rate of 40 to 50 (or more) per hour.
What amazes me is this: After practically destroying these Prada shirts, the cleaner still had the audacity to charge for the “service” (around $3 per shirt).
What’s even more amazing to me is this: Given the damage inflicted on these shirts (and yes, I said DAMAGE), the customer actually paid for the “service”.
Protect your investment: Your dark colored cotton shirts should be dry cleaned in a gentle dry cleaning fluid and then hand ironed, never laundered and machine pressed. Grill your dry cleaner about the process used to care for those shirts before you hand them over @ravefabricare
True quality care = dry clean and hand iron
This episode is the perfect segue to the obvious question: What’s the technically correct way to clean and press dark colored, cotton shirts, thereby protecting your investment in your fine garments?
Our Position Paper on the very topic lists a number of factors that should be considered in making the dry cleaning vs. launder decision. More specifically, under the sub-heading “Color”, we state the following:
Dark colored shirts and blouses should be dry cleaned and hand ironed to protect the intensity of the colors.
Dark colored shirts and blouses that are wet cleaned or laundered tend to fade over time, especially along the seams of the collar, cuffs and front plackets – even if wet cleaned or laundered in cold water on a short cycle.
If your dry cleaner actually cared about your fine garments, they’d dry clean your dark colored shirts and blouses in a gentle dry cleaning fluid and then hand iron them. It’s not rocket science. It’s just a matter of knowledge, skills, time and commitment.
So the next time you drop off your dark colored, cotton shirts or blouses at the dry cleaner:
- Ask them about the process that will be used to “clean and press” your shirts or blouses (BTW, if there was ever a more meaningless phrase in the garment care business it’s the phrase “clean and press”)
- Examine the condition of your dark colored, cotton shirts or blouses — before you leave their facility.
And if they’ve destroyed your dark colored shirts or blouses by laundering and machine pressing them (instead of dry cleaning them in a very gentle dry cleaning fluid and then hand ironing them), don’t let them off the hook by shrugging your shoulders, paying the cleaning bill and walking out. Take the necessary action!
Photo credit: RAVE FabriCARE
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