Well, hopefully the worst winter I can recall is over. It seems that a lot of weather records were set in the past few months. Big blizzards in the Northeast; horrific rains in the Pacific Northwest; and just plain cold in other parts of the country. This sure makes one think about the reality of “Global Warming,” doesn’t it?
This winter has raised a lot of questions about things drycleaning owners and managers need to know. Probably the first one is how to remove salt and slush stains from garments, especially pants and slacks. Hopefully, we are all up-to-date on wetcleaning procedures, what to wetclean and what not to wetclean. In the past there could be a simple bucket of water that the hems and bottoms of the garment could be immersed in and agitated by hand. The garments were then removed from the water source and extracted until there was little moisture left in the garment. They would usually then be hung in the boiler room until they could be drycleaned. It was also necessary to add a bit of moisture to the solvent in order to remove the last traces of salt and to make an easy transition between the part of the garment that was wetted and the other parts that were not wetted. Usually when salt or other snow melting chemicals got onto the garment it also contains slush residue containing, oils, greases, dirt rubber particles and whatever else was on the roadway. This necessitated adding a bit of neutral detergent to the water and then agitating the detergent mixture into the fabric so the soil can be released back into the water. This may need to be done a time or two and it will help to add a bit of citrus based paint, oil and grease remover to the bucket to help remove the oils and greases.
Of course, it may be a lot easier to simply treat the entire garment as a wetclean procedure with the proper wetcleaning supplies and procedures. When wetcleaning any garment, it is very important to put the garments into a Residual Moisture Control dryer in order to activate the ingredients that make the garments much, much easier to finish. I have been in many drycleaners doing wetcleaning and they will do everything right except when they are finished wetcleaning they simply hang the garments in the boiler room to dry. The boiler room usually doesn’t get warm enough to activate the polymers that reduce wrinkling and there is no agitation in the boiler room either to help with the smoothness of the finished garment. Additional information on adding moisture to your drycleaning machine can be found at TextileCleaning.com.
After a winter like we just had, there was a lot of washable clothing that needs to be cleaned and drycleaning will not get out salts or anything else that got onto to clothes through contact with water, snow or anything else with water involved. If you will let it be known that your plant is expert in salt and slush removal you could possibly get a lot of poundage that you might not have gotten without asking for the business. The alternative is for the wearer to do the garments at home or take to the laundromat. The machine to wash them properly is not found in the home and it is a chore that a homeowner doesn’t really want to do then worry if they were able to remove all of the salt and staining material.
Another source of income is the cleaning of UGG type of boots. They were the rage beginning a couple of years ago and will have been worn heavily during the winter. A couple of sources for the proper chemicals and tools necessary to do an excellent job of cleaning them would be Royaltone Chemical Company and Herson Supply in MD.
With the Clean Show coming up in April 16th to the 19th in Atlanta, GA complete information can be found at www.cleanshow.com. In a recent poll of drycleaners there were two things that stood out and the top one (34%) is to attract more customers and the next one (22%) plan on adding or updating equipment. Two things that have been a hindrance to cleaners for many years has been an old style spotting boards with leaking valves and poor design. The new generation spotting boards have built in vacuum, electric valves and a smaller footprint. An addition that can be added to a newer board is called “cold Spotting” and has virtually no chance of removing dyes or distorting the fibers while flushing the spotting aids that were used to professionally remove the stain.
Another piece of equipment that has been outdated is the conventional press. Just as drycleaning machines have gone through many generations, we finally have machines that are easier to use, more reliable and can do an excellent job of cleaning. Finishing equipment has also been highly upgraded with easier-to-use European finishing equipment, smaller footprint and uses a much smaller amount of utilities with untrained employees putting out excellently finished garments. The two main components of the European equipment are the up air/vacuum board and the adjustable jacket/blouse/chef coat/dress machine. This piece will turn out a perfectly pressed jacket with the collars actually rolled and pressed, which we haven’t seen done properly in many, many years.
Be sure to scrutinize the ads in the Cleaner and Launderer magazine this month and again in the April issue to provide you with a lot of information on who and what will be at the Clean Show to provide you with before going to the show in Atlanta where you can see everything that can make your business more professional, more profitable and attractive to new customers.
I hope top see you there.