Misconceptions about Wetcleaning

Perc is being phased out all over the country. As a result, I’m receiving more inquiries about converting to wetcleaning. Does it work? How about suit jackets? Leather? How’s shrinkage? How about customer response? How do you handle problems? Well, I do my best to answer those questions.

It is actually quite enjoyable to talk to people interested in wetcleaning. I am a firm believer in getting away from petrochemicals. I do recycle and avoid using those Styrofoam cups. Nothing gives me more pleasure than helping others to do the same.

However, those who are accustomed to solvent cleaning rarely have a full confidence in my explanation. They all agree that wetcleaning makes clothes cleaner but have a hard time acknowledging that wetcleaning is easier and more convenient than drycleaning.

I believe these negative responses come from misconceptions. So, this month, I will go over these misconceptions and point out their fallacies.


Wetcleaning shrinks clothes

This is probably the most wide-spread misconception. If clothes are shrunk, it’s not wetcleaning. It’s laundry. The modern wetcleaning has gone through countless trial and errors and has reached its maturity. Chemicals and equipment have evolved by leaps and bounds. Shrinkage is now simply an old wives’ tale.

Certain fabrics like wool and cotton tend to shrink whether you do drycleaning or wetcleaning. One study says 100% wool shrinks about 1.5% after 5 drycleaning. It happens in wetcleaning as well but to a lesser degree. If you are wetcleaning properly, shrinkage is hardly a concern. In fact, I sometimes observe shrunk fabrics restored thanks to the fabric relaxer in wetcleaning chemicals.


Wetcleaning damages fabric

Once again, it’s from laundry experiences. In fact, wetcleaning preserves the fabric better than drycleaning. That’s because wetcleaning uses gentle mechanical action similar to hand washing while drycleaning employs strong agitation. In wetcleaning, beads, fragile buttons, trims, and decorations are far safer.

One of the main causes of fabric wear is the mechanical actions in washing and drying. Wetcleaning uses minimal mechanical actions and therefore preserves fabric better. Same goes for the color and sheen.


Wetcleaning causes bleeding

That happens in laundry. If bleeding in drycleaning is 10, it’s less than 1 in wetcleaning. It’s eve more so when you use acidic detergent and high level water. You can experience local color loss due to excessive spotting but bleeding hardly ever happens in wetcleaning.

I would estimate that I have wetcleaned more than 1 million pieces but I haven’t had a bleeding incident that couldn’t be restored with a simple post-process. Less bleeding means better color preservation. If you are doing it right, you can wetclean colorful silks and cottons dozens of times without any color loss.


Wetcleaning takes too much time and effort

I dare any drycleaner to challenge wetcleaning on productivity. When you consider time spent in spotting, washing and finishing, wetcleaning is much faster. It’s no contest with spotting and washing. And properly wetcleaned garments can be finished in the same time as drycleaning.

Wetcleaning simply is more efficient than drycleaning. It’s just different. Many people argue it’s hard to do same day service with wetcleaning. That is not true, either. At my shop, we don’t offer same day service as a policy but we routinely finish garment the same day they came in. I’m sure other wetcleaners do the same.


Wetcleaning is not well received by customers

Some shops do not tell customers that they wetclean some items.  I don’t understand why anyone would keep wetcleaning a secret. Maybe they don’t have confidence in themselves?

My shop has emphasized wetcleaning from the beginning. I also have a pamphlet that explains what wetcleaning is and why it is better than solvent cleaning. I haven’t met one customer who responded negatively in 14 years. On the contrary, they showed a great interest and complimented on noticeably better quality.

The bottom line is the sales. The whole industry is going through a very tough time but my sales have been showing a steady growth, albeit a small one these days. My prices are the highest in the area. It is a clear sign that wetcleaning is well received by customers.


Seeing is believing

I have been making these points on countless occasions and still meet a lot of doubters. It is not easy to break an old habit and I find newcomers are more willing to accept and try a new procedure.

I always welcome visitors to my shop and many have done that. And once they see how my shop is run, they become a believer in wetcleaning

My doors are always open and I teach for free. I teach by practice and it can be done in as few as one day. I strongly recommend you to take the first step. You can bring any “problem garment” if you want. The only thing I wouldn’t do is to restore damaged garments.

My shop’s address is:

Green Life Organic Cleaners
7447 Hillcrest Road
Frisco, TX 75035

Picture of Yangsoo Kim

Yangsoo Kim

The author is the developer of Aqua Master wet cleaning chemicals and is currently operating Green Life Cleaners, a 100% wet cleaning service. You can contact him by phone (201) 699-7227 or email at yangkim50@gmail.com.