What is dry cleaning

Follow the journey of Colin the Coat. Written by Marion Hart and Illustrated by Jo Fellows

To find your nearest Timpson store to drop off your cleaning please search here:

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Hi I'm Colin

I am made of wool, a fabric that may shrink in water, so it would be safer to ‘Dry Clean’ me!

I’ve been tested by the company that made me and they have attached a care label with a list of cleaning symbols so my dry cleaner can clean me correctly. Dry Cleaning simply means I am cleaned in a Dry Cleaning Solvent only!

The lovely colleague in my local Johnson/Timpson Branch checked me over to ensure I didn’t have any stains and holes and that my buttons and zip were working.

All my pockets were checked to make sure nothing was left inside (especially pens as they can leak). “I’ve got an ink stain on my front! Oops..

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Custom sized nameplate

I am taken to the cleaning section where a specialist first looks at my stain to decide what it is, and how best to remove it. The right treatment is applied to the stain. There are two groups of stains:

- Wet Stains dissolve in water and are usually easy to remove by washing.

- Dry or oil based stains do not dissolve in water and are usually easy to remove by Dry Cleaning with pre-treatment.

My stain is Dry so I am able to be Dry Cleaned.

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Here’s the fun bit!

I am then put into the Dry Cleaning Machine. It washes me using solvent, NOT WATER, and then I go round on another cycle and come out Dry.

There are two common Dry Cleaning solvents used known as PERC and GREEN EARTH. The Dry Cleaning machine recycles the solvent so it can be used multiple times.

Oooh I’m lovely, clean and warm but I’m not quite ready yet. I need to be ‘finished.’ So I then go to the ‘finishing equipment’! This type of finishing equipment uses steam to help make me perfectly smooth with sharp creases. Unlike the irons we use at home, it cannot burn me! I am then put in a protective cover to keep me clean...I feel great and my pen stain has gone!

I am ready to go home!

Don’t worry my plastic cover can be recycled and the hanger can be returned to the branch to be used again.

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Some interesting stuff....

Rarely can a garment be damaged in the Dry Cleaning process but sometimes it can happen and here are some of the reasons why:

  • It’s very old and this process can highlight wear to the item.
  • It’s very worn so looks worse after cleaning.
  • The colours can run into each other if not manufactured correctly.
  • It has trimmings, beads, sequins etc. and they can fall off or get damaged.
  • Some garments are made with fabric glues that bond the interfacing. If not manufactured correctly or after a period of wear it can appear bubbly where the glue breaks down.
  • Moths! They like to eat natural fibres like wool and silk; this is not always visible until after the garment has been cleaned.
  • Invisible stains – sugar based stains such as white wine cannot be seen until after the clean.

Challenges of Removing Marks from Sensitive Textiles:

  • Silk – Most silk dyes are water sensitive so the Dry Cleaner is very limited with the treatments available. Many treatments can cause colour loss.
  • Whites – Any water used to remove marks from whites needs to be completely dried before cleaning. So white garments can take a little longer to go through the process.
  • Linens – Most linen dyes are water sensitive so again the Dry Cleaner is limited with the treatments available. Many treatments may cause colour loss.
  • Sensitive Wools – Wools such as Angora hold a lot of moisture and if treated can result in colour loss or shrinkage. Only limited treatments can be used.
  • Deep Dyed Cottons – These can lose colour when treating marks so again only limited treatments can be used.
  • Trims – because the trims are sensitive to the movement in the cage of the Dry Cleaning machine, limited action is used. This can reduce the effect of the cleaning process.

Issues that can occur when cleaning white fabrics and items with sensitive trims:

  • White Fabrics – Marks can be difficult to remove because excess water can cause the fabric to go grey in the cleaning process unless properly dried first.
  • Some manufacturers use artificial brighteners on whites that wash out in the cleaning process leaving the fabric looking dull.
  • Sensitive trims – Most care labels do not cover the trims and they have not been tested for Dry Cleaning. This should always be brought to Our customers attention before processing.
  • The trims may be attached by a thin piece of cotton that will come loose so we may advise for it to be removed before cleaning.

Our lovely colleagues do their best by taking great care to prevent any damages, but if they occur they will do all they can to rectify the problem.

Timpson work closely with the U.K. Fashion and Textiles Association to ensure we are offering our customers the best service and advice. For further help and assistance regarding our Dry Cleaning service please contact our Customer Support Team at Timpson House who will be happy to help.

Tel: 0161 946 6219 email: customer.support@timpson.com

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