Chemicals in the stain destroy the fabric

Fault: After stain pre-treatment and drycleaning, the stains to this wedding gown had darkened, more stains had appeared and the fabric at the under-arms was disintegrating. Technical cause: Old stains are much more difficult to soften with pre-treatment prior to drycleaning, which is why fewer old stains will come out completely. Also, any staining containing sugars (such as beer, wine or children’s drinks) or proteins (such as ice cream, custard or gravy) could dry to leave no visible mark. Neither type of stain is completely removed by drycleaning and the residues from both will darken during tumble drying in warm air. Untreated perspiration at the under-arms tends to become either acidic or alkaline with time,

causing steady rotting of the yarns if these contain either cotton or silk. The material starts to disintegrate with the mechanical action of the cleaning machine process to produce the result now seen here. Responsibility: For both, the residual staining and the fabric damage lies with the user on this occasion, because both stem from staining in use and the delay in getting the garment cleaned. However, a conscientious cleaner would suggest realistic expectations at reception and should always ask the date of the wedding and then lower the customers’ expectations appropriately.  It may be possible to improve aged stains using a good proprietary post-spotting kit, but this

Washing proves a disaster Viewed in daylight Viewed under ultraviolet light

Fault: This dress came in with plenty of food and drink staining from a wedding reception. It had no aftercare, fibre content or manufacturer label. The cleaner decided to wash it without further investigation. After washing, the ivory colour had turned to grey, the fabric displayed tight creasing which the cleaner could not press out and in some lights the fabric looked speckled. Technical cause: This garment is made from silk and was not designed for washing. The fabric has ‘cracked’ with the effect of water and mechanical action, to produce very tight creasing and an ‘orange-peel’ appearance in some areas. The cleaner has also used the wrong washing detergent for an ivory- coloured item selecting one with an optical brightening agent, which is now

Solvent damage to coloured trim

Fault: The mauve trim lost its colour when drycleaned in accordance with the care label in perchloroethylene solvent. The original colour is apparent on an uncleaned sample from the maker. Technical cause: The dye used for the trim has not been designed to withstand perchloroethylene. On further investigation it was found that the maker had actually had the garment tested for its drycleanability by a local cleaner. Checks


with this cleaner revealed that they used hydrocarbon solvent, which did not damage the trim.

Responsibility: The blame here should be taken by the garment maker, because the correct label for hydrocarbon cleaning is F in a circle

. Perchloroethylene has a

solvency power of 90 on the kauri-butanol scale, whereas hydrocarbon has a power of only 29 - 31.  Sadly, none is possible.

June 2021 | LCN 21

making the ivory look grey. The detergent (a powder) has not been completely dissolved in the wash process and it is this which is producing pinpoint areas of high brightness, giving the speckled appearance. Responsibility: in the absence of any fibre content or aftercare information, at the very least, the cleaner should have conducted a careful assessment of the item and established its likely fibre content. A simple burning test could have been used - see The Guild of Cleaners and Launderers Spotting Manual, before deciding to accept the garment, possibly at ‘Owners Risk’. In view of the fibre content the decision to wash the item was the wrong one and the cleaner must accept responsibility.  None is possible.

may require considerable time and skill. Protein components should be softened first and then flushed off, before the tannin stains are tackled. The fabric damage cannot be improved and may get worse if the garment needs recleaning after retreatment. The customer should be warned of this beforehand.

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