CONCORD, N.C. — There is not that much that is really new to the garment care industry.
I returned to the cleaning industry in 1981, after seven years in the corporate environment. The plant was hydrocarbon, and I was considered foolish when I resisted the switch to perchloroethylene. I found that I could clean just as well, clean fragile items with a greater level of safety, just not as quickly.
As perc lost favor with operators due to increasing government scrutiny, improvements in chemistry gave cleaners the option of safely using water on many more items. Plants are now using hydrocarbon, hydrocarbon blends, and water, exclusively.
This is a throwback to the way plants were operating prior to World War II. The phrase, and movie title, Back to the Futurehas seen a great deal of use, but it describes the landscape of today’s cleaning industry. We are seeing continued refinement of old techniques and tools, and the introduction of immersion solutions that were previously cost prohibitive.
The volume of available items has decreased. Casualwear has gained acceptance in the business environment, home garment care has seen improvement in chemistry and equipment, and customers are expecting more for their garment care dollar.
The technical side of garment care is more than going through the motions.
Chemical tools designed to remove water-soluble stains like blood (protein/animal) or wine (tannin/plant), are formulated with a pH that can potentially affect the dye of the stained item. This pH color change can be reduced in wet-side stain removal by using a neutral synthetic detergent (NSD) before moving to a stain-specific chemical tool.
NSD will remove many stains without the risk of color change in the dye surrounding the stain.
Bleaches are just one more tool in the arsenal of the professional cleaner. Hydrogen peroxide at less than 10% and sodium perborate are relatively safe in the hands of a cleaner with a basic knowledge of fabrics and dyes.
Spot bleaching can be the difference between leaving a trace of the stain and giving the customer a stain-free garment. Expertise is a sign of true professionalism.
Supplemental stain removal is as much a part of the garment care industry as the balance sheet and the boiler. Improvement on the technical side will soon find its way to the bottom line.
To read Part 1, go HERE.
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