Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is dry cleaning?
A: During dry cleaning, garments are immersed in a liquid solvent, and the absence of water is why the process is called 'dry' cleaning. Garments are assessed prior to being dry cleaned and are pre-treated using appropriate solvents and techniques to remove stains. After this, they are placed in a dry cleaning machine to agitate clothes in a manner similar to your own washing machine. This serves to remove the solvents used during pre-treatment and then uses solvents and soaps within the dry cleaning process to dissolve stains such as grease. Once clean, the clothes are dried in the same machine. Garments are inspected after cleaning to determine whether they require further treatment. Once we are satisfied with the results we press and finish the garments by hand.
Q: How does dry cleaning work?
A: Despite its name, dry cleaning is not a dry process. It involves the use of liquid chemicals called solvents that remove most stains from a variety of fabrics. Most dry cleaners use perchloroethylene as their primary solvent. Because the clothes are cleaned in a liquid solution that is mostly perc or some other solvent, with very little water if any, the term "dry cleaning" is used to describe the process. There are some differences in the way dry cleaners process clothes, but here is how it typically works:
- drycleaners usually treat spots by hand before placing garments in large machines;
- liquid solvents and detergents are added to the machines. The machines then agitate clothes in a manner similar to your own washing machine to remove dirt, oil, and stains;
- once clean, the clothes are dried in the same machine, then pressed and finished;
- used solvent is distilled so it can be purified. Distillation separates the solvent from waste residues such as detergents, dye, dirt, and oil so the solvent can be reused. In addition to distillation, most machines also use filters to clean used solvent; and
- after the purification process, filters which contain the solvent in very small amounts, and certain solvent residues, such as perc, must be managed and disposed of as hazardous waste and this process is monitored by SEPA. Dry cleaners can send them to special facilities for recycling or incineration.
Q: What is perc?
A: Perchlorethylene, or perc, is the dominant chemical solvent used in dry cleaning. It is a clear, colourless liquid that has a sharp, sweet odour and evaporates quickly. It is an effective cleaning solvent and is used by most professional dry cleaners because it removes stains and dirt from all common types of fabrics. Perc usually does not cause clothes to shrink, or dyes to bleed. Perc is not flammable and, since it can be reused, it is a cost-effective and efficient solvent for cleaning clothes. Perc is also a toxic chemical with both human health and environmental concerns.
Q: What garments can be successfully wet cleaned and where can I get this service?
A: Properly trained professional cleaners are now able to successfully wet clean most garments that are typically dry cleaned. Using our experience, we may sometime choose to wet wash some types of silks, woolen sweaters and linens because of the superior results. Some cleaners offer wet cleaning to their chemically-sensitive customers. An increasing number of commercial cleaners are incorporating wet cleaning into their businesses.
Q: Why use a specialist dry cleaner?
A: If you have expensive clothes it makes sense to have them cared for by a company that has experience in dealing with them. We clean designer clothes all day long, we understand that the creases on an Issey Miyake shirt are a style statement -- some cleaners don't! By using a specialist you ensure your clothes receive the best possible care. There are plenty of areas where cleaners can cut costs: using old machinery, using cheaper solvents and soaps - we don't make these compromises. The ultimate benefit of this is that your clothes receive the best possible care. The greatest skill in dry cleaning revolves around stain removal. While a specialist can't guarantee the removal of all stains, experience teaches them what techniques to use and how far they should go in terms of stain removal. It's a fine balance between results and safety and by using a specialist you get the best risk:reward balance.
Q: Should I tell the cleaner what has caused a stain?
A: Yes - and the quicker stained garments are taken to the cleaner the better. Different types of contaminants require different stain-removal agents, and some stains affect fabrics permanently if they are left unattended too long.
Q: Are suedes and leathers cleaned in the same way as fabric garments?
A: No. Highly specialised procedures are used on leather garments. Most will need to be re-oiled and/or re-dyed to restore colour and texture. We send all suede and leather garments to a specialist cleaner which takes a little longer.
Q: Can I store my clean garments in the plastic wrapping they are returned in?
A: The wrapping provided by us is to protect the garment until you get it home. It is best to store garments uncovered. We offer alternatives, such as boxes, for longer term storage requirements. If this is of interest to you, please ask.
Q: Do you provide same day cleaning?
A: To provide a quality service takes time. We ideally like 2-3 days to allow us the time to give your garments the care and attention they deserve. This allows us to re-clean garments if necessary to achieve the best results. If you require a same day service we will try and accommodate you if we can. Contact us for more information.
Q. Should I have all matching pieces cleaned together?
A. Yes. If all pieces are cleaned together, any variations will be minimal. However, there are exceptions. Some two pieces are made as separates and different cleaning instructions may be found on each piece.
Q. What about curtains and sofa covers?
A. Hand made soft furnishings differ from shop items in many ways, no least of all in cost. Very often, bespoke curtains will carry no garment care label with cleaning instructions so the dry cleaner has no indication of how well – if at all – the fabric has been tested for colour loss, shrinkage and so on. Without this information, it is imperative that you are aware that they may not withstand even a delicate dry cleaning process. Consequently, we may ask you to absolve us of liability before we process (see our Disclaimers section). Sadly, this can apply to the most elaborate and expensive of hand-made curtains in spite of the amount of time that went in to making them.