Handling storage problems and what to tell a customer

A drycleaner accepts clothes and make encounter problems that customers had due to storage. Many drycleaners fail to properly handle storage problems and miss the opportunity to advise the customer what to do. It is important to know why problems occur and what you can do to help the customer.


When garments are accepted for drycleaning they should be carefully examined especially wools for moth damage. Moth larvae are capable of damaging animal fabrics such as wool, cashmere and angora. Moth larvae can also affect suedes and leathers. The customer should be made aware that you have the skill and the means to prevent further problems and damage. When a garment is found to have possible moth holes you should immediately inform the customer and recommend that all the clothes in the closet should be drycleaned. Drycleaning is the most efficient way of removing moth larvae and the heat of drycleaning and pressing is equally effective.


This is a color change caused by the action of airborne gases found in varying degrees of concentration. Frequently, higher concentrations of these air impurities exist in closets. These airborne gases form an acid reaction on fabrics.  Darker colors may turn pink or red but not necessarily evenly. Garments are usually affected in length wide streaks. Some white fabrics, while hanging in a closet may reveal yellowing and oxidation. Tell your customer that the drycleaning process cannot correct this condition. Inform your customer not to leave plastic bags on the garments. If the garments have not been cleaned for a while suggest that they be drycleaned to remove the impurities on the fabric. Tell customers not to store garments in basements or hot areas of the house.


White fabrics, while hanging for a period of time may show yellowing due to fume fading and light. Inform customer that you might be able to correct the problem. The customer should be informed that after the drycleaning process is done you will attempt a restoration process.


The most effective bleach for correcting oxidation on white fabrics is soaking the fabric in a sodium perborate or sodium percarbonate bleach. Soak the garment over night and after soaking, rinse the garment and use an acid bath for neutralizing. The garment is then rinsed again. On silks and wools another effective bleach to use is sodium hydrosulphite. The soaking action in this bleach is for a shorter period of time, usually 15-20 minutes. The garments are then rinsed thoroughly and do not have to be neutralized.


Mildew is a micro-organism that attacks both animal and vegetable fibers. The mildew may have a distinct musty odor. The mildew may also appear as a stain in many colors, most commonly brown, tan and yellow. Warmth, dampness and lack of fresh air present ideal conditions for mildew growth. When any garment brought in for cleaning and possible odor or staining is detected, the customer must be informed that the rest of the garments in their closet should be checked and brought in for cleaning. Drycleaning solvent, especially perchloroethylene destroys the mildew spore. The heat of drying and pressing also destroys the mildew spore.


On dark garments the mildew spore may appear as a whitish stain and is usually removed easily in drycleaning. On white fabrics such as cotton, linen and rayon the best bleach is sodium hypochlorite. If the staining is on a wool or silk fabric try using potassium permanganate.


Many garments that a customer kept in the closet or in storage for a period of time may develop stains that oxidize. Oxidized stains should be treated as an unidentified stain. The stains might be tannin, protein, dryside or even pre-spotting agents that may not have been rinsed out of the fabric properly after a previous cleaning. Pre-spot these stains on the dryside first with oily type paint remover and amyl acetate. After drycleaning they should be treated as a tannin stain using acids and tannin formula. Then use the protein method using protein formulas and mild alkalis. Any remaining staining can be treated with mild oxidizing agents such as hydrogen peroxide.


Manufacturers often use sizing that is affected by moisture, dampness and heat. When the sizing breaks down, the area turns yellow or brown. The sizing problem can often be improved and corrected by a wetcleaning process and then resizing the garment. On white garments a soaking in sodium perborate or sodium percarbonate will correct the problem.


Sizing problems occur because the manufacturer did not use a serviceable and stable sizing. While hanging heat, dampness and humidity caused the sizing to break down. Sizing is used in manufacture to enhance the look and feel of the garment by giving it drape, luster and stiffness.

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