I was making my way from Atanta, GA to Mobile, AL last week with a lot of windshield time ahead of me, listening to "the greatest rock 'n' roll band in the world" - The Rolling Stones. The lyrics from the song "Time Is On My Side" were stuck in my head the rest of the day, which led me to this posting. When it comes to dry cleaning, time really is on our side.
Think about it. The more time the customer gives the drycleaner with their garments, the more time the dry cleaner has to work on the garment and the more time the dry cleaner has in case he needs to rerun the garment (to those dry cleaning consumers who may read this blog - the more time you give your drycleaner to properly process your garments, the greater the probability that you will be pleased with the results). Giving the garment sufficient drying time is another area that is a must for the dry cleaner and then there is the actual wash time of the garment. There is no substitute for the length of cleaning cycle time when it comes to cleaning clothes. Dry cleaners need enough time to clean clothes!
The dry cleaning machine is designed to clean clothes and when set up properly, a very low rate of reruns can be achieved. Wash time in the dry cleaning machine is a huge factor. Even if all conditions are perfect (filter working correctly, pump working efficiently, load factor good, detergent concentration correct and solvent level correct) you will not receive the results the consumer expects if the wash time is insufficient.
What is the correct length of a wash/cleaning cycle?
The correct length of the cleaning cycle depend's on several factors. The type's of material, dyes and garment construction are very important. Any recleans, delicates and loosely woven fabrics will need a short cycle Over the last few years, the degree of dye fading you can expect has come into play (rarely a factor 30 years ago), pre-test garments for color fastness and if it appears dyes will bleed, a bleeder type program or short wash cycle would be most desirable. Due to the servicability issues of the garment, these garments are the exception and will be best processed in a 5-6 minute wash cycle and even less in the case very ornate garments.
However, for the vast majority of garments, those garments that I would classify as a "regular" type garment, I would recommend no less than 12 minutes of filtered wash time in perc and no less than 20-25 minutes in both low flash and high flash hydrocarbon.
Why are these wash time necessary?
- Solvent Soluble Soils - These soils are removed fairly quickly in both of these solvents and should not be looked at when considering the length of the wash cycle on the drycleaning machine. These soils are typically removed sufficiently when giving the other type soils the time they need in order to be removed.
- Fugitive Dyes - These dyes are removed in both distillation and through the activated carbon available in your cartridge filters. Many machines today are under-filtered with less amounts of activated carbon available. Many of the garments we are cleaning today have more fugitive dyes than at any other time in our industry.
- Insoluble Soil - Study's have shown that even without garments in the dry cleaning wheel, it will take a minimum of 8 minutes of solvent circulation with filtration to flush the majority of insoluble soils from the wash wheel. Also, when you consider the difference in weight between the two solvents, hydrocarbon being almost half as much the weight of perc, hydrocarbon will not remove insoluble soils from the garments as quickly. Hydrocarbon will remove insoluble soils as effectively as perc when given a wash cycle of 20-25 minutes.
- Water Soluble Soil - Solubilized water does not go to work to remove water soluble type stains immediately. The natural water that is in all garments that go into the dry cleaning machine along with the solubilized water that is in the dry cleaning solvent must be at the same relative humidity before water will begin to dissolve the water soluble stains. This equilibrium is not reached until 8 minutes into the wash cycle. This means that food stains, perspiration and other water soluble stains have not even begun to be removed until 8 minutes into the wash cycle. If these stains are heavy or built up, they will need a considerable amount of wash time to be completely dissolved.
Give your garments a good long filtered wash (when garment construction allows) and you will have a much better end result. Time needs to be on the side of the dry cleaner in order to provide high quality garment care. Dry cleaners need enough time to clean clothes!