In my last column, I explained the characteristics and benefits of acidic detergents. This month, I will cover the conditioners used in wetcleaning. I simply cannot imagine wetcleaning without it. One can even say the successful development of modern wetcleaning owes much to it. Proper use of a good conditioner will give you quality better than drycleaning.
People who does wetcleaning without a good conditioner simply do not understand its importance. Many cleaners are processing more of their volume in water. Thanks to popularity of washable fabrics, increasingly more cleaners are using water. But traditional laundry does not require wetcleaning conditioners and cleaners have to deal with rough fabric surface, loss of luster, set-in creases that are difficult to press out. It’s similar to washing your hands with soap and not putting on lotion. Just like a conditioner makes your hair softer and shinier, wetcleaning conditioners give many benefits like the following:
Shrinkage is probably the biggest concern of a wetcleaning newbie. But as long as you follow the correct procedure, shrinkage is not really a concern. Conditioners doubles as fabric relaxers. If you made a mistake and wool item shrank, you can usually soak it in a conditioner solution and block it to its original size.
Conditioners works very well as a fabric softener. Soft feel is very important with silk and cashmere. And proper use of conditioner will yield a softer feel than drycleaning. That’s why more shirts launderers are using conditioners to make cotton shirts feel like silk. Customers these days prefer softer feel. Conditioners also contain sizing that helps with pressing. In other words, conditioners both the feel and hand of a garment.
Brighten colors and enhance luster
Conditioners are like water-soluble oil. And oil makes colors look bright and deep. Chafing problems in silks can usually be restored with conditioners. As long as you use a conditioner, even repeated wash will not fade color and luster. As you can see in the pictures, localized color bleeding in a silk blouse was easily restored with a conditioner.
Wetcleaning newbies are afraid finishing will take too difficult due to many wrinkles. This also is solved by a conditioner. After rinsing with a conditioner, you can hang the clothes to about 90% dry and tumble dry to finish. You will be surprised by the ease of pressing.
Required for leather and firs
As I have explained many times in this column, a conditioner is a must for leather and furs. Leather and fur items must maintain a certain amount of oil to remain soft. If you remove it during washing and not replenish it, you will end up with stiff leather. You can even say leather/fur cleaning starts and ends with a conditioner.
Removes remaining soap
The best part of wetcleaning is its cleanliness. I always emphasize the importance of the last rinse. If you used not enough conditioner or didn’t use one at all, you will see foaming in the final rinse. Whether you are doing shirts laundry or wetcleaning, foams in the last rinse mean less than clean clothes. Foams carry contaminants and remaining foams mean remaining contaminants. If your clothes smell funny on a rainy day, your final rinse was not clean.
A conditioner removes the last traces of detergent from clothes. In other words, proper use of a conditioner ensures clean clothes.
Mixing brands not recommended
It is best to use a detergent and a conditioner from the same manufacturer. Some wetcleaners choose and mix products from different companies to save money. This is not a good idea because sometimes different detergent and conditioners do not mix well. The cost saving is definitely not worth the quality loss.