Doing laundry can be confusing and reading clothes care labels might seem like trying to understand the Greek alphabet. Here’s a breakdown of what the labels mean so you can give your clothes the TLC they need.
The Federal Trade Commision (FTC) Care Labeling Rule
Wording isn’t required and symbols can be used instead. Symbols used in the United States can vary from those used in other countries. Be aware that the clothing’s fabric can be labeled correctly, but sometimes trims, buttons and sequins can be added after the fact and aren’t always addressed on the label.
Most labels are divided into six categories: washing, bleaching, drying, ironing, dry cleaning and warnings. Westbank Dry Cleaning can evaluate your dry cleanable garments and provide the best cleaning method available. Below is a chart for common clothing care labels and their meanings. Download it here.
For laundry at home, try the Laundry Day app for the iPhone. Simply scan a care label with your phone and once it recognizes the symbols tap the screen to bring up a detailed list of the symbols and what they mean. Download it for $1.39 on Itunes.
Remember, the care label instructions should apply to the entire garment. If you or your drycleaner followed the care instructions on the label and damage occurred, return the garment to the store where you purchased it from and explain what happened. If the store won’t resolve the problem, ask for the manufacturer’s name and contact them. It’s also important to know that while sometimes damage can occur on the first cleaning, it can also occur on the third, fifth, or tenth. The garment should withstand the cleaning method regardless of its age.
Summer heat and sweat. The two go hand in hand, or more like arm and arm. Going without deodorant can cause you to smell like a locker room, but deodorant can also wreak havoc on your clothes.
Deodorants and antiperspirants contain many chemicals including aluminum chloride, alcohol and fragrances. When these acidic ingredients bond with your sweat, they can stain, weaken and ruin your clothes. Cotton, linen, rayon and synthetic blends are especially susceptible to stains and damage from aluminum chloride. And, your dry cleaner has no way of knowing that your underarm fabric is becoming weakened until the effects, such as discoloration or torn fabric, are visible – often after cleaning.
If your deodorant has a lot of alcohol (fragrance) or aluminum you will experience the discoloration more frequently. Try switching to a product that has a lower aluminum content and a neutral PH. Let your skin dry completely before applying deodorant and then allow your deodorant to completely dry before putting on your clothes. Wearing undershirts can protect your expensive dress shirts from stains and premature aging. Try to clean your clothes soon after wearing them and avoid leaving soiled clothing in hot cars before your trip to the dry cleaners. The heat can actually set stains and make matters worse.
Looking at the fine vertical tears it might appear that the shirt was damaged during the laundry and pressing process. It was sent to the National Center for Garment Analysis where lab experts carefully examine garments, test them and prepare an objective report on the cause and responsibility of the problem. The report from the lab concluded that the holes in the shirt were caused by the chemical reaction of perspiration and antiperspirant. The chemical reaction degraded the fibers virtually making them dissolve. Unfortunately, once the damage has been done, it’s almost impossible to restore.
Your wedding gown is the centerpiece of your special day. It’s probably the most expensive outfit you’ve ever purchased so if you want to keep or sell it, you should have it cleaned and preserved to maintain its value. Sooner is definitely better than later. Don’t let that splash of champagne or stray bite of cake have time to yellow or become permanent.
So until you’re able to take your gown to be cleaned and preserved, be sure to keep it in a dark, dry place. Store it folded or rolled in a clean white sheet. Hanging is not recommended because it can cause stress to the fabric. Avoid plastic bags altogether! Plastic emits gases that yellow the fabric and plastic traps moisture, which can lead to mildewing.
Westbank Dry Cleaning’s wedding gown specialists carefully inspect your gown for stains, especially around the hemline. Beads and other trims are tested for cleanability and we determine the best method for cleaning your gown. After it’s cleaned, it’s inspected again and then hand pressed and returned to you in an acid-free, museum quality archival box that prevents yellowing and protects against insect damage and humidity. We can also preserve veils, gloves, purses and shoes. Trust Westbank Dry Cleaning for preserving your family memories.
Memorial Day is the official start of summer and there’s nothing fresher than a white suit or dress to kick off the summer season. The dirty truth is that most clothes yellow over time and bright white is not a natural fabric color, it’s a dye. Clothing manufacturers often add optical brighteners to achieve the white finish. The brighteners, which may be known by other names such as brightening agents, fluorescent bleaches, optical whiteners, fluorescent brighteners, or fluorescent whiteners – are chemical agents that work by absorbing ultraviolet light and turning it into visible blue light. It then masks any yellowing of your clothes that occur over time tricking your eyes into thinking that your clothes are whiter than they actually are. That’s why white clothing glows under a black light!
These brighteners have limited durability and consumers need to know that they will decompose over time…leaving behind a slightly duller garment than they originally purchased. Dry Cleaning and laundering white clothing can accelerate the breakdown just as normal exposure to light, heat and atmospheric gases will. Certain light colored fabrics, particularly silk, simply yellow with age. At home, never bleach whites that are polyester or cotton/poly blends. The chemical reaction between the bleach and poly almost always yields a yellow result.
White clothes are cooler because they reflect light and no color is more fresh and crisp than white, so by all means, don’t avoid white clothing this summer! Just remember white doesn’t stay pristine forever and now you know why.
Guest Blogger Miranda Darr with Quatro Austin
Miranda Darr is the owner of Wardrobe MD and co-founder of Quatro Austin.
With more than 20 years as a wardrobe stylist, Miranda provides luxury personal shopping and styling advice through seasonal trunk shows of the Carlisle & Per Se Collections of New York.
You can contact her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org for all your styling needs.
|Is it time to reassess your wardrobe? Does your wardrobe need a few tweaks or a complete overhaul? Your personal style can change when your lifestyle changes, be it work, family, marital status and — yes – your age. Once a year, comb through your closet and take inventory of the outdated, then purge and finally prioritize your new purchases.
Here are three tips to build your wardrobe and refine your style:
|Build your wardrobe so that all pieces flow seamlessly together. This helps keep the guesswork out of dressing every day.
|Emphasize quality and buy what you love when you shop for clothes. Here are a few things to look for:
|Always remember to incorporate some personality into your sense of style.
There is no need to be boring or try and clone someone else’s style exactly. Make sure you love your outfits you wear and that they genuinely reflect you.
Guest Blogger: Katie Fore with Tom James
Meet Katie Fore, guest blogger, stylist extraordinaire.
Katie is a professional clothier, sales trainer, and recruiter for the world’s largest men’s custom clothing company, Tom James. You can contact her directly email@example.com for all your styling needs.
In this day and age, there seems to be more creative dress codes than we have clothing options. It can get quite confusing trying to figure out what to wear! Here is a simplified version of some of the holiday dress codes for the guys that we see on invitations throughout the year.
This one can be left up to a broad range of interpretations depending on the season, venue (indoors/outdoors) and occasion. Use your better judgment…or a girlfriend/wife/significant other who can help direct you. With that being said, here are a few looks spanning the different seasons for weather-specific attire that looks pulled together without trying too hard. Bolder patterned or uniquely-styled shirts, left untucked or tucked in, depending on your preference, paired with chino’s, jeans or flat-front shorts in the spring/summer. During the cooler days, throw on a patterned or lighter colored sports coat. Nothing says “gentleman” like a guy who offers a lady his jacket when the air turns colder.
Da Vinci said, “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Keep it simple. Tuxedo or dinner jacket. White tux shirt. Bow tie for a more traditional formal look or solid black neck tie for more modern elegance. Black socks. Patent shoes. Every guy over the age of 25 should own a classically styled tuxedo.
No need for a full-blown tux, but a suit and tie is a must! The darker the suit, the more formal the look. Don’t be the guy caught underdressed at these occasions. You can always take off your tie or jacket, but if you show up without one and everyone else has one on, well….
Generally reserved for holidays or themed events and special occasions, this one can be a bit tricky. In Austin, a nicely tailored solid sports coat or blazer goes a long way and not unlike the Semi-Formal suit, the darker the jacket the more formal the look. In the winter, throw a tailored velvet or corduroy jacket over slacks or jeans and a button up shirt for a fun and festive flair. In the warmer months, a solid lightweight wool jacket will do nicely.
How often do you check the care label before you buy a new garment? If it says Dry Clean Only, is that the only way to clean it? The Federal Trade Commission requires that every garment purchased have a sewn-in care label that supplies at least one safe method for cleaning. There may be other acceptable methods that can be used, but the manufacturer lists the preferred and most conservative method first. Sometimes instructions for care are for the fabric rather than for trim, such as sewn-on or even glued beading or sequins. The label should also warn against any cleaning process that might harm the garment.
One of the biggest frustrations dry cleaners face is an inaccurate or missing care label on clothing. On top of that, there isn’t an internationally recognized care label system at the present time, so clothing manufactured outside North America might use different symbols. An important fact to note is just because an item is expensive doesn’t translate into an equivalent level of quality or serviceability.
So what’s a consumer to do?
Yes, some garments can be washed that say Dry Clean Only, but if you don’t want to risk ruining it, send it to a professional.
We hear this question often and wanted to give you some guidelines from The Drycleaning and Laundry Institute. Despite information to the contrary, professional dry cleaning will actually prolong the life of a garment. In fact, it’s the oils, body salts, cologne, perfumes, hair products, insoluble soil, rain, food and beverage stains that will shorten the life of your garment.
First and foremost, a person’s body heat, activity, and the clothing’s stains largely determine cleaning frequency. If a garment is soiled or affected by perspiration or odor, it should be dry-cleaned as soon as possible. Light color garments and frequently worn clothes are especially susceptible to dirt and require more frequent cleaning. Have all matching pieces such as suits cleaned at the same time. This prevents any inconsistencies resulting from color changes. Always clean your garments before storing away for a season. Moths and insects are attracted to oil and perspiration.
Below are some more specific guidelines based on the Texas climate:
|There has been a lot of misinformation about gender pricing at the dry cleaners and we’d like to set the record straight. At Westbank Dry Cleaning, the cost to clean a woman’s pant and a man’s is the same.The cost to clean a woman’s coat is always going to be the same price as a man’s. But when we start talking about shirts it gets a little muddy.
First, an explanation for the difference between pressing and hand finishing. Most garments require
The shirts are pressed while they are wet between hot, nearly 400°F, metal plates. This gives shirts a
|Shirts that don’t meet these criteria are handled differently. They are either dry cleaned or washed, and then dried. In order to achieve a quality finish, they need steam and a combination of machine and hand pressing. Women’s blouses come in an extremely wide variety of fabric types and may have fancy buttons, contain spandex, trims or other ornamentation. These variations can change dramatically from season to season with the latest changes in fashion. This prevents the machine manufacturers from developing presses that will fit the majority of women’s blouses. Men’s shirts are almost always made of 100% cotton or a cotton/polyester blend, and have more or less looked the same for over 100 years.
|The photo below tells the story:|
Customer satisfaction is at the heart and soul of Westbank Dry Cleaning. That’s why we are so proud to announce that we were honored with the first-ever YES! Award for “Year of Exceptional Service 2014” at the Clean Show in Atlanta on April 18th. The award was presented by MarketWise, a national mystery-shopping consulting company.
|(Left to right) Westbank’s William Charnes and Stacey Luster receiving the “Yes!” 2014 Award from Carolyn Nankervis, President of MarketWise Consulting Group, Inc.|
To be eligible for the YES! Award, all eight of our locations were secretly shopped six times throughout the year. The awards were based on 540 mystery shopper visits at participating cleaners across the nation.
The program consists of an evaluation of the counter person at drop off and pick up, and an overall evaluation of the quality of the cleaning and the customer service experience.
Westbank received the highest overall score in the country across all categories!
We are especially appreciative and proud of our staff for their dedication to a high standard for customer care. The YES! Award is a direct result of their commitment and expertise. When we meet and exceed industry standards, the real credit belongs to them.
Meet the Stylist Miranda Darr
Miranda is this month’s guest blogger and she shares how to prep for photos by wearing the right outfit so you’ll always hit them with your best shot! Here are 3 tricks to look your best in photos:
Miranda Darr is an expert wardrobe and image consultant, stylist and personal shopper. She is the owner of Quatro Austin, a Carlisle & Per Se Collection showroom. (Spring, Summer, Fall & Holiday) by personal invitation & appointment. For more information on her services visit www.QuatroAustin.com
Tops with structured shoulders will give your entire upper body definition. A fitted blazer or blouse with “peaked shoulders” can work well. These items will add clean lines and help you look sharp in a photo.
Dress in a “Column of Color“
(All one color) – Coordinate your colors by wearing a monochromatic theme. Wearing a color column is a simple, chic and slimming look. (make sure the color is that is flattering to your skin tone).
Wear a Slim, Dark Pant
A black trouser or skinny jean looks good on most everyone. Avoid wearing something oversized and bulky.
Once associated with edgy musicians and bikers, leather comes in so many chic trends this season. Anything from dresses to leggings, vests and outerwear. You’ll see traditional colors as well as vibrant hues. Here are 10 tips to keep leather clothing looking luxurious, so you can enjoy them for many seasons:
If staining occurs, the garment needs to be cleaned ASAP by a professional leather cleaner. Don’t try to remove it yourself. The danger is you start removing the color, and then it’s harder than ever to get out and restore. And remember that even thought a leather coat may not look dirty; it’s best not to wait more than two seasons to have it professionally cleaned.