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HYDRO-CARBON CLEANING: Safe. Effective. Smart.

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1.  Q. What is Hydro-Carbon Cleaning?

A. Synthetic hydrocarbon solvents are being positioned as a “green” alternative to PERC because they biodegrade within days when exposed to air, water, and earth.

About 15% of the estimated 25,000 dry cleaners in the U.S. have already switched from PERC to synthetic hydrocarbons. These newly developed solvents are not only easier on the environment but gentler on clothes, and are virtually odorless as well.

The same hydrocarbons that are sold for use in dry cleaning are also sold in the personal care market. They are used in makeup, hand cleaners, lotions, and dozens of other cosmetic products on the market today.

2. Q. Why choose a dry cleaner that uses hydrocarbon solvents vs. PERC?

A. As stated above, hydrocarbon solvents have a clear advantage over Perchloroethylene (PERC) when it comes to being safe for the environment, as well as for your personal health. PERC is a toxic chemical that is classified as a hazardous air contaminant and must be handled as a hazardous waste. PERC has also been shown to be a potential carcinogen, as well as posing other health risks.

By choosing a cleaners that uses hydrocarbon solvents, you are helping to reduce environmental pollution and are providing your family with clothes that are cleaned in a process that you can be certain will cause no health problems. In addition, your clothes will have a fresh, clean scent rather than an unpleasant chemical smell from clothes cleaned with PERC.

3. Q. Why do shirt buttons crack or break as often as they do?

A. Buttons may crack during the pressing process, even though our press padding is kept in excellent condition. The majority of buttons are made from a polyester resin. The strength of the buttons depends on the amount of polyester in the resin. Some manufacturers use off-quality buttons.

Off quality buttons do not meet the requirements in one or all of the following criteria: Color, inclusions, chips, cracks, and uniformity of size. Manufacturers use these off-quality buttons to save money and this results in higher than average breakage. A more expensive shirt does not necessarily mean better quality. At Look Sharp Dry Cleaners, we do our best to replace any missing or cracked buttons, at no additional charge!

4. Q. Why do cleaners charge different fees for men’s and women’s shirts?

A. Difference in charges for shirts is not based on gender. Garments at Look Sharp Dry Cleaners can be cleaned in one of two ways: drycleaned or laundered (according to the manufacturer’s label). Drycleaning and laundry are two separate processes that utilize different machines, materials, and incur different costs. In cleaning, there are two types of finishing procedures: one utilizes automated pressing equipment and the other requires “hand finishing”.

Shirts that fit size and fabric criteria can be finished using automated pressing equipment designed to finish shirts quicker and more efficiently.

Other shirts (in most cases women’s shirts and/or blouses) that do not fit the criteria, require “hand pressing”. This is a more labor intensive and time consuming process. As in any service business, the time it takes to complete a project generally dictates the price. Therefore, because “hand pressed” shirts require more time to complete, the cost is higher.

5. Q. What causes “puckering” and excess fabric in shirt collars and cuffs?

A. This is caused by excessive shrinkage of the interfacing within the collar and cuffs. The manufacturer must select an interfacing that is compatible with the shirt fabric. You will notice this happening with most shirts that are made for “comfort”, not dress.

6. Q. Is there such a thing as an invisible stain?

A. Most certainly! Hair sprays, wine stains, gels and/or any other moist solutions (including water!) containing impurities that come into contact with clothing are often times “invisible”. They may be invisible when wet, or even invisible when dry. They may only become noticeable once oxidation sets in when cleaned and dried.

A good example is a stain caused from white wine on a light colored, silk blouse. In the same way an apple turns brown after exposure to heat and air, the fruit based wine stain, invisible upon occurrence, will darken when allowed to dry completely, even after cleaning. Thus, it is common for such stains to show up AFTER the cleaning process instead of before.

7. Q. Does dry cleaning shorten the life of a garment?

A. On the contrary, dry cleaning prolongs a garments life. Not only do stains set with age, making the garment unwearable, but ground-in dirt and soil act as abrasives, causing rapid wear of fibers. Insects (even ones you can’t see) are also attracted to soiled clothes and can cause further damage.

8. Q. I like to have all my clothes dry cleaned. If the care label says “washable”, can it be dry cleaned?

A. Not necessarily. The dyes and/or sizing may not be solvent suitable and may require wet cleaning for best results. But there may be other safe methods of cleaning the garment. The manufacturer is required to list only one safe method. Rely on Look Sharp Dry Cleaners! Our experience and expertise will ensure that your garments are always properly cared for.

9. Q. My husband buys all 100% cotton oxford, button-down shirts. I am starting to notice some tiny holes here and there. What is causing this?

A. The oxford cloth weave consists of two, thin warp yarns to every soft, thicker yarn in the filling direction. The unbalanced construction causes the thin yarns to break leaving tiny holes. Manufacturers could use a high twist in the yarn to prevent the development of holes, but eventually any oxford weave will develop tiny pinholes.

Remember, all laundered shirts receive the same care, but the constant abrasion in wearing and washing eventually causes them to weaken and tear.

10. Q. I’ve always heard that club soda is the best thing to use to get spots out. Is this true?

A. We see trouble! Even water can cause problems on certain fabrics, dyes, and sizing. If you want to try anything, pre-test an unexposed part of the garment. Wet the fabric and blot it with a white cloth. However, rubbing the garment while wet, during home spotting, can distort the yarns causing light areas of chafing. We recommend bringing it to the experts!

11. Q. How long can I expect a shirt to last?

A. Industry experience shows that, on average, shirts have a two-year wear life expectancy. However, the number of washes is a better measuring method. The average shirt should have a wear life of 35 to 50 washings. This can vary depending on fiber content, the type of fabric, abrasions, and laundering procedures. Trust the experts at Look Sharp Dry Cleaners!

12. Q. HELP! I have a garment without care instructions! It has a symbol that looks like a hand in a bucket. Am I suppose to know what this stands for?

A. Who says cleaning clothes is easy?!! It’s a good chance that the symbol is telling you to “hand wash” the garment. To prevent you from pulling your hair out, a great reference guide is available at www.textileaffairs.com.

13. Q. I purchased an expensive multi-colored shirt and colors have bled. Should this have happened?

A. If the dyes in a shirt are not colorfast to water, bleeding will occur. This migration of the dye into the surrounding areas is not acceptable, unless the fabric is madras. The FTC Care Label Rule states that the color in a garment must withstand the recommended care procedure.

As an aside, Tommy Hilfiger was fined $300,000 for violations of the Care Label Rule. His company has since joined the International Fabricare Institute (IFI) with hopes to avoid future problems by working to address customer complaints, solve cleaning problems and test garment construction to ensure appropriate care labeling.

14. Q. Should I have all matching pieces together?

A. Absolutely! As professional dry cleaners, we can never be sure of what types of dyes and/or sizing the manufacturer or importer has used. Quality standards in foreign countries are not the same as we’ve come to expect here in the U.S. If all pieces are cleaned together, the color and sheen will always match. This applies to any household goods as well.

15. Q. Does dry cleaning shrink clothes?

A. No, not if the dry cleaning process is carefully controlled.

16. Q. Should I store my clothes in the bags my clean clothes are returned in?

A. The bags we provide are intended to protect your garments until you get home. It is best to store clothing in fabric garment bags.

17. Q. Why did the beads on my silk sweater lose color when I had it cleaned?

A. The dyes used to color beads, buttons, and sequins, do not always perform the same way as the dyes used in the fabric of a garment. Some dyes are not resistant to dry cleaning fluid. General fading, dulling of the finish, or even entire color loss can occur. Worse yet, the color can transfer from the buttons or beads and can permanently stain the garment! The Care Label Rule clearly states that the care instructions must apply to all component parts of the garment, including any attached decorative trim. Do not hesitate to return this garment to the retailer for an adjustment. The retailer should likewise return it to the manufacturer.

18. Q. I have a pair of pants that I want to be hemmed. How long will it take to get them back from alteration?

A. If the pants are new, we have a 2-3 day turnaround. In the case of worn garments, we clean them before sending to our alteration department, so add an extra day or two.

19. Q. My friend gave me a pair of pants size 38 in the waist. I’m a waist size 32. Can they be taken in enough to fit me?

A. Generally speaking, you cannot alter a garment more than two sizes. In this case, the waist would have to be taken in so much that the seat and stride would be compromised, along with the pockets in the back would almost certainly touch. This would not be recommended.