Frequently Asked Questions.
- Is dry cleaning really dry?
The answer is no, drycleaning isn’t dry at all. It is called “drycleaning” because solvents are used in place of water. Water is considered “wet”. However, it is even more confusing when you consider that most drycleaners consider wetcleaning a form of drycleaning. Wet cleaning uses water as a solvent and very special equipment that controls the detergents and motion. Many ‘dryclean only’ items can be cleaned in this manner. If you were to look through the front window of one of today’s drycleaning machines, it looks like a large front loading washing machine, and the clothes appear to get very wet. They get “wet” by the drycleaning solvent. Drycleaning solvents remove oily stains without shrinking most fabrics. All drycleaning machines (because of EPA regulations) are now cleaned and dried in the same machine. It is not possible to open a machine mid-cycle (such as to drip dry). There is always heat and motion during the cleaning process.
- What is dry cleaning?
During dry cleaning garments are immersed in a liquid solvent; the absence of water is why the process is called ‘dry’ cleaning. Garments are evaluated prior to being dry cleaning and pre-treated using appropriate solvents and techniques to remove stains. After this they are placed in a dry cleaning 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. Garments are inspected after cleaning to determine whether they require further treatment. Once we are satisfied with the results we your garments are pressed by our highly trained technicians.
- Is the dry cleaning solvent that Oakwood Cleaners uses harmful to my clothing, me, or the environment?
We are Nashville’s only certified exclusive GreenEarth® dry cleaners. GreenEarth is a green dry cleaning process that is completely safe. It has no hazardous chemicals. No perchloroethylene. No petroleum. So there’s no risk to the air, water or soil.
GreenEarth cleans with pure liquid silicone. In essence, liquefied sand. The same natural sand the earth has been creating for over six billion years. GreenEarth’s silicone is clear, odorless and gentle. In the environment, it simply returns to its three natural elements: sand (SiO2) and trace amounts of water and CO2. It’s a clean you can feel good about. look for ways in which we can provide superior cleaning in a safe and eco-friendly manner.
- Does drycleaning shrink clothes.
No, not if the drycleaning process has been carefully controlled. We house the latest in drycleaning equipment in our plant. They are all computer controlled with specific programs for each different garment and fabric type. Our drycleaning technicians have been fully trained and have years of experience in handling even the most problematic and difficult fabrics and garments. You can have confidence when you leave your clothes in our care they will come back as good as new, sometimes better.
- Will my dry cleaned garments be odor-free and ready to wear?
Yes. GreenEarth’s silicone is clear, odorless and gentle.
- Does drycleaning shorten the life of a garment?
Drycleaning in Green Earth® 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 are attracted to soiled clothes and cause further damage.
- Is there a rule of thumb about when I should have my clothes cleaned?
There is an old cleaners saying “Wear it twice, it will clean up nice.” This is a nice slogan, but you need to put more thought into your decision. For garments you wear next to your skin, like blouses, pants, shirts etc. you should follow the same logic you would use if it were machine washable. If you would wash it after one wearing, then you should dry clean it after one wearing. For suits, sport coats, overcoats, and sweaters worn over a shirt or blouse you may get two or more wearings between cleanings. Dry cleaning is especially useful to remove food stains, dust, soils, makeup, cologne, and perspiration. Over 95% of bacteria will be removed with proper cleaning and steam finishing. It is this bacteria that will produce an offensive odor if the garment is worn too long. Always clean garments before storage for any length of time. This will help prevent moth damage. Some antiperspirants and deodorants can attack colors and fibers if not removed soon after wearing.
- I like to have all of my clothes drycleaned. If the care label says “washable” can it be drycleaned?
The dyes and/or sizing may be solvent suitable and may require wet cleaning for best results. Yet again there may be other safe methods of processing a garment. The manufacturer is required to list only one safe method. With the experience, training and expertise of our drycleaning technicians we can properly test each of these garments to ensure that your clothing wardrobe is properly cared for.
If you are unsure about what any care label says, refer to our Care Label Definitions. If that doesn’t work, call us!
- What does dry cleaning do that laundering at home doesn’t?
One of the main differences between dry cleaning and home-laundering is that dry cleaning uses fluids (solvents) to remove substances from textiles in a way that laundering cannot. There are many advantages to this: Natural fibers (i.e. wools and silks) will not shrink, distort, or lose color if dry cleaned, whereas they will with home-laundering. Although dry cleaning provides a more thorough cleaning, it is kinder to textiles and will not, discolor damage or affect the fabric’s integrity. Green Earth® dry cleaning solvents actually moisturizes fabrics getting your garments back to you “like new”! (See information on Green Earth®)
- What causes a “puckering” and excess fabric in shirt collars and cuffs?
This is caused by excessive shrinkage of the interfacing within the collar and cuffs. The manufacturer must select an interfacing, which is compatible with the shirt fabric.
- I recently purchased a dress with a care label that says, “French Clean Only” what does this mean?
Lucky for you, we specialize in French hand laundering! A firm in Paris, France was credited with being the first to use an organic solvent in drycleaning garments. This process became known as “French Cleaning”. Some garment manufacturers are using the term to suggest that the garment be hand cleaned in solvent. The term may also imply that the garment can only be spot cleaned because no immersion methods are acceptable. This instruction does not meet the FTC Care Label Rule, nor is it practical because it would not produce a clean garment. As a consumer you should be aware of the risks of cleaning such a garment. Often there is no safe way to care for these garments.
- I think my shirts are shrinking. Other than how they feel when I wear them, how can I be sure?
Industry standards allow for a normal shrinkage of two percent. This is usually not enough to notice. Shrinkage beyond this is usually due to poorly stabilized materials. To be sure, measure the collar and sleeve length. Measure the collar from the beginning of the button hole to the center of the button. Measure the sleeve length in a straight line from the center of the back of the collar to the end of the cuff. If these measurements correspond to the shirt size, it has not shrunk.
- It seems most of my blouses and dresses are either rayon or silk. Should they be drycleaned or washed?
Both silk and rayon fibers clean very well. However once the fiber has been woven into fabric and it is dyed and treated with various sizing, it becomes a whole different ballgame. It is important that the care label instruction on the garment be followed. This is where we, as your professional drycleaner, are best in making that decision.
- Why did the beads on my silk sweater lose color when I had it cleaned?
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 drycleaning fluid. General fading, dulling of the finish or even entire color loss can occur. Worse yet, in some cases, the color transfers from the trim and permanently stains 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.
- A dress of mine was drycleaned and after cleaning, the shoulders were a lighter shade than the rest of the dress, what happened?
The dyes on acetate and other blends of fabric are sensitive to the effects of nitrogen oxide gas found in the air. These gases are formed when air comes in contact with a heated surface, such as a furnace in the home. The gases collect on the fabric as it is stored in a closet. This type of color change may not be noticed until the garment has undergone the cleaning process. Unfortunately, this color change cannot be reversed.
- Can I remove the care label from my clothing?
The care label is provided so that both the customer and the cleaner have reasonable guidance regarding care and cleaning methods. Some cleaners decline cleaning garments when care labels are removed, others require a consent form before proceeding with cleaning. We are happy to evaluate any garment, with a care label or not, for cleaning.
- The care label on a sweater indicates it is hand washable. Can I wash it in a machine on a delicate cycle?
There is some risk involved in using any care process not recommended by the manufacturer. Hand washing involves manual removal of soils with water, detergent, and a gentle squeezing action. A care label that calls for machine washing, in a delicate or gentle cycle, indicates the soil can be removed with water, detergent or soap, slow agitation, and reduced time in a washing machine. Hand washing is a restrictive care process that minimizes the amount of abrasion a garment receives in cleaning. If hand-washable garments are machine washed in a gentle cycle, agitation may be further minimized by putting the item in a net bag. Even this procedure is in violation of the care label instruction, however, and places responsibility for damages on the launderer rather than the manufacturer. If you are uneasy about washing it at home, bring it in to Creeds and let us clean it for you.
- Are fabric softeners always okay to use?
The “fatty” material in a fabric softener attaches directly to the fabric and makes the fabric feel softer. However, fabric softeners can build up over time, and can reduce the ability of the fabric to manage moisture and breathe. Frequent use of fabric softeners can also reduce the absorbency of cotton towels. The web site of Cotton Inc. provides the following tip for consumers: “Use fabric softeners occasionally. Overuse will cause your towels to stiffen and become less absorbent.”
- How can I keep my whites white and the bright colors bright?
There are several reasons why clothes loose their brightness. Common reasons include the use of too much/too little detergent, use of too large of washer loads, inadequate rinsing, and using the wrong water temperature. Read the detergent package for the correct amount of detergent for your type of washer. If the washer is too full, there’s more rubbing/abrasion on the clothes, which dulls the fabric/colors. So, don’t overload, and use the right amount of water for the load. Regarding the temperature, follow the care instructions on the garment label. Periodic use of appropriate fabric bleach (all fabric or chlorine, as appropriate) and/or laundry boasters will help keep clothes bright. Sometimes changing detergents may help. Many clothes have optical brighteners or fluorescent whitening agents (FWAs) applied, which help brighten colors. Unfortunately, if the FWA are damaged by sunlight, bleach, or simply age, there is nothing you can do. Prolong your garments by sending them to Oakwood Cleaners from the start!
- When a care label describes a cleaning process which includes “except for trim,” how should the garment be cleaned?
Unless the care label describes what must be done with trim, the label does not meet the legal requirements for garment care labels and should not be purchased, or if purchased and worn should be returned to the retailer. At times trim can be removed, for additional cost, and then reassembled. We might ask you for a release recognizing possible problems in cleaning.
- Can I wash my wool blanket?
It’s always best to follow the manufactures instruction. Although the FTC does not require labels on blankets, care instructions are usually provided on permanent labels or temporary hang tags. Wool blankets can be made of either a woven or knit fabric construction and they require special precaution when cleaning. Hot water or hot drying temperatures can cause wool blankets to shrink and feel harsh and stiff. Wool blankets can be drycleaned successfully, or they can be machine washed in cold water on a gentle cycle with mild detergent, then line dried or tumble dried on low heat. Even though you may follow the recommend care instructions, some wool blankets may still experience shrinkage. Industry standards allow for as much as 6% after five laundering! For example, a wool blanket that measures 81 x 108 can shrink as much as 4″ in the width and 6 ” in the length. For ease in caring for your wool blankets, just bring them into us. Remember: We are the drycleaner you can trust.
- How often should I have my feather pillows cleaned?
Proper caring for feather pillows depend on several factors. How often they are used, whether a protective cover or covers are used, if there is excessive perspiration causing stain and odor on the pillow. Generally an annual feather pillow cleaning is recommenced for pillows in regular use.
- What can be done to minimize pilling?
Pilling of a fabric occurs when groups of short or broken fibers on the surface of the fabric become tangled together in a tiny ball called a pill. Pilling results from rubbing (abrasion) of the fabric during normal wear and use. While pilling cannot be eliminated it can be minimized by proper handling during washing of the fabric/garment. Before laundering, turn the garment inside and out. Use a slower agitation and a shorter wash cycle. And, remove the garment from the dryer as soon as it is dry. To remove any pills on fabric, pull the fabric taut over a curved surface and carefully cut off the pill with scissors or shave the fabric surface with a safety razor. There are also battery operated pill removers, which shave the pills much like an electric razor. However, it’s important to understand that once you remove the pills, they can come back. So you may find that you’ll have to remove pills from time to time to keep your garment looking fresh and new. Beware that it is very easy to shave a hole in the fabric if you are not careful. We suggest just bringing your garment to Oakwood Cleaners and let our experts take care of those nasty pills.
- Why do some designers and manufacturers use blended fibers?
Blending of fibers is done to enhance the performance and improve the aesthetic qualities of fabric. Fibers are selected and blended in certain proportions so the fabric will retain the best characteristics of each fiber. Blending can be done with natural and man-made fibers. For example, when polyester is blended with wool, the fabric retains the beautiful drape and feel of 100% wool, and the polyester adds durability. In some blends the polyester even makes the fabric machine washable.
- What are enzyme cleaners?
Enzymes are a type of protein found in living matter. Used in laundry products, they have the ability to breakdown protein type stains, such as blood, meat juice, dairy products, baby formula, and vegetable proteins. Enzymes contain amylase (for starch), protease (for protein), and lipase (for fats). Be sure to check detergent ingredients, because some do contain enzymes.
- What is Spot Cleaning?
Some labels state “Spot Clean Only.” Spot cleaning a garment is basically what the title implies. A garment is hand cleaned only in the areas where spots are noticeable. Spot cleaning is performed when portions of the garment are not capable of withstanding normal cleaning methods. Some of today’s fashions include various trims that are non-serviceable whether dry cleaned or wet cleaned. We are capable of performing Spot Cleaning only if necessary.