The (Spotting) World is Yours (Part 1)

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Martin L. Young Jr. |

Be that go-to technical guru with know-how to get stains out

CONCORD, N.C. — There is no chemical tool on the market today that can overcome a lack of technical knowledge on the part of the cleaner/spotter.

However, I continue to find plants where all the expertise remains with the supply representative. Unfortunately, this institutional memory is not readily available. In many cases, the sales calls are two to three weeks apart.

The cell phone is a great resource, but advice is often “hit or miss” when one is not able to actually see the problem.

Many owners lack the foundation of technical knowledge to assess the quality of the cleaning and supplemental stain removal in their operation.

The owner must take the word of the employee that the stain cannot be removed, forcing the owner to continue to order “Sorry” tags, instead of asking the employee to try again.

I know of few owners that allow finishers to inspect and pass-up their own work. This is never a reliable policy and almost always leads to a decline in quality. It should be no different with the cleaning department.

Someone in the plant must have realistic expectations of cleaning quality and how to achieve a quality end result.

It has always troubled me to find an owner of a dry cleaner that lacks even basic knowledge of the technical side of the industry.

If that same owner lacks a general manager with technical knowledge and corresponding expectations, there is no one on-site to critique the output.

Never forget that the customer is the next inspector.

There are trade associations, both regional and international, providing training in every aspect of the cleaning industry.

For a small fee, one can get a half day or full day of exposure to focused information that will allow the owner to carry on a technical conversation and establish job performance standards for the employees.

It is not within an employee’s job description to determine performance standards related to their job. A lack of knowledge has the potential to allow an employee to hold the owner or manager hostage.

There are occasions when it seems trouble cannot be avoided. One of the more common but easily corrected problems I see is a pH color change due to action by the consumer or the cleaner/spotter.

Having the knowledge to immediately take action to neutralize the pH, can and will save you a potential claim.

At the first sign of a color change, quickly begin flushing the area over the vacuum nose of the spotting board.

Alcohol is a moderate alkali and contact with a garment will often result in a discoloration of the original pigment color.

Protein formula is an alkali, and if you fail to test an inside seam before applying either an acid or alkali chemical tool, you could create this same color alteration.

Apply the opposite pH chemical tool—tannin on protein and protein on tannin—while continuing to flush the area with steam. Done in a timely manner, the pH color change is usually neutralized in four out of five cases.

Check back Thursday for the conclusion.

About the author

Martin L. Young Jr.

Industry Consultant and Trainer

Martin L. Young Jr. has been an industry consultant and trainer for 20 years, and a member of various stakeholder groups on environmental issues. He is a past president of the North Carolina Association of Launderers & Cleaners (NCALC). He grew up in his parents’ plant in Concord, N.C., Young Cleaners, which he operates to this day. Contact him by phone at 704-786-3011, or via e-mail at mayoung@vnet.net.

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