Prolonging Textile Life
Color Loss and Change
Trim and the Care label
Most garments today are required to have a care label listing al least one safe method for cleaning the garment. The Care label Rule clearly states that the care instructions must apply to all permanently attached parts of the garment, including decorative trim. Labels that say "Dryclean Only, Exclusive of Decorative Trim" are unacceptable. They do not explain that the trim must be removed before the garment is cleaned nor do they specify a separate care method for the trim.
There are many cases in which the care method indicated for the fabric causes damage to the garment's decorative trim. Here are some problems to be on the lookout for:
Dyes used to colour buttons, sequins, and surface designs do not always perform the same way as the dyes used in the fabrics of the garment. Some dyes used in trim are not resistant to drycleaning fluid, and the trim may fade, dull or lose colour completely. In extreme cases, the color may transfer from the trim and permanently stain the fabric.
If the trim dyes are water-soluble, color loss changes or staining can occur during laundering, stain removal or wear during inclement weather. Spillage of food or beverages or perspiration alone can cause a similar reaction. Red dyes are particularly susceptible to moisture problems, occasionally taking on a bluish hue.
Problems with Beads, Sequins and Other Decorative Trim
Glued on trim such as glitter, sequins, and paillettes can be removed if the glue is not resistant to the recommended care procedures. Sewn-on trim should be checked to see that edges are bound and properly sewn before cleaning.
Buttons, beads. buckles, and other trim made of a plastic called polystyrene can dissolve when exposed to drycleaning solvents, especially perchloroethylene. If such a garment is incorrectly labeled "Dryclean," it should be returned to the manufacturer if damage results.
Some buttons. particularly those that resemble pearl, are quite fragile and may crack, chip or break during use and cleaning procedures. The serviceability or the button often depends upon how it is made and how it is attached.
Garments that are labeled "Dryclean" should be made to withstand proper pressing procedures. Steam used to remove wrinkles and restore a garment to its proper shape can sometimes cause damage, particularly to suede, leather, fur, sequins, beads, and buttons. Garments with decorative trim elements placed very close together also can be difficult to finish, even with a hand iron. In these cases, the cleaner may be forced to return the garment in less- than -perfect condition.
Cleaners who are members of the International Fabricare Institute (IFI) see hundreds of garments each week. They may suggest that there is considerable risk in processing a garment whose trim may be damaged by following the care label. In that case, the cleaner may ask you to sign a consent form before cleaning.
If you experience a problem with an inaccurate care label, do not hesitate to return the garment to the retailer for an adjustment. The retailer should likewise return it to the manufacturer.
Some trim that looks like suede or leather may actually be vinyl. These vinyls may stiffen, pucker or curl upon exposure to drycleaning solvent. Fabrics that are treated with a plastic finish to give the appearance of smooth leather may separate, peel or blister during drycleaning. In some cases, simulated leather may be a combination of materials treated with a surface finish. This finish may abrade and wear off from use or care. Imitation-leather trim may lose its surface finish, stiffen or fray during drycleaning. Some imitations look so realistic that no one can predict their cleanability. It must be assumed that the trim is compatible with the care procedures stated on the label.
Problems can arise with fur trim on combination cloth-and-fur garments. Occasionally, the trim is composed of small pieces of older or thinner fur that can crack, peel or shed during cleaning. Fur trims also do not have the same wear and cleaning characteristics as the fabrics to which they are attached. Some furs may be tipped with colors that are not colourfast to drycleaning, causing disappearance of the fur's intricate designs.
Drycleaning or professional laundering often can prolong the life of household draperies. With proper care, draperies made of an average grade of fabric can he expected to last three to five years.
Drycleaners often encounter problems with draperies because of environmental conditions in the household. Water damage from window condensation, prolonged exposure to moisture and humidity, and sunlight can discolour and weaken fabric, causing shredding when draperies are exposed to the agitation of cleaning. The combined effects of age, moisture, light, heat, tobacco smoke, and other atmospheric soils can cause fabrics to permanently yellow.
Laundering, drycleaning, or excessive changes in relative humidity can cause shrinkage in draperies that have not been properly preshrunk, particularly cotton and rayon. Special drapery finishing equipment that re-stretches the fabric often can correct such shrinkage.
Distortion and fabric stiffening also can occur during the cleaning process. Some drapery constructions use a combination of several fibers to produce a desired weave or design. The presence of heat·sensitive fibers can cause considerable distortion during the normal cleaning, deodorizing, and finishing cycle. Other draperies contain reflective coatings that may not be to totally resistant to drycleaning and may stiffen and blister the fabric. Some coatings may separate, peel, or self-stick in cleaning.
Bedspreads and Comforters
Many bedspreads and comforters, especially those that are tailored and quilted, should be drycleaned or professionally laundered. Check for care instructions when making your purchase since they may appear on a temporary label or on the packaging instead of being attached to the items themselves. It is wise to dryclean or launder all matching coordinating items at the same time and by the same process. This way, any colour changes, however minimal, will be uniform.
Upholstery and Slipcovers
Upholstery is usually cleaned in place by a professional cleaning process, so that cushion covers continue to match the rest of the furniture. Many slipcovers and sets of cushion covers for rattan furniture are suitable for drycleaning, but consumers should be aware of
potential problems with some upholstery fabrics. Some fabrics may not be suited for
immersion cleaning. Haitian cotton and other fabrics with a loose weave are easy damaged by the agitation of cleaning. Unfortunately, backings that are added to loosely woven upholstery fabrics for stability often soften or dissolve when cleaned with solvents. Also, fabrics not adequately preshrunk in manufacturing may shrink in cleaning. Obviously, if this happens with a cushion cover or a slipcover, it will no longer fit the piece of furniture.
Antique quilts and linens require great care in cleaning, and not every cleaner is 'quipped to perform this delicate work. Let your cleaner know that the item is old and will require special treatment. Often, antique linens or old quilts will be badly discoloured, but, using proper cleaning procedures, a good cleaner can remove some stains or discolourations.
Prolonging Textiles Life
How long textiles will last depends in part on their selection and on the care you give them. Here are some hints to prolong their usefulness:
• Remember that closely woven fabrics are more durable than loosely woven fabrics.
• Consider the amount of sun exposure the fabrics will receive. Silk is the most vulnerable to light degradation. and acrylic, modacrylic, polyester, and glass fibers are the most resistant.
• Read all care instructions before making a purchase.
• Rotate draperies to vary light exposure.
• Inform your cleaner about any care information you may have from the original hang tag or literature obtained at the time of purchase.
• Remember that regular cleaning is important in prolonging the life of textiles. Surface soils can abrade carpets, rugs, and upholstery fibers.