When it comes to top notch dry cleaning, you have to keep them separated. What I am talking about is load classification. Along with having the proper solvent levels, proper detergent usage, good filtration, proper wash time, load factor, fabric finish and effective stain removal, you will need to separate garments into classifications and clean those classifications of garments in the same load. Proper classification will help to prevent the garments from several types of garment problems such as dye transfer and redeposition, to inconveniences and production slow downs such as excessive linting, streaks and swales. When looking at load classification, there are 2 basic reasons for classifying garments. One is to insure fabric safety and the second is to achieve the maximum soil removal without redeposition.
There are many different types of fabrics, dyes and fibers. All of these will not withstand the same dry cleaning process. Lace and beads, for example will not withstand the process that will give maximum soil removal, unlike the hard wools and some blended fabrics. Because of this, when it comes to classification, the consideration of fabric safety must be taken into account first while soil removal becomes secondary. Pre- testing dyes and trims is also a very important part of the classification process.
What I am seeing in the average size dry cleaning plant is 5 different classifications for garment cleaning. Heavy weight hard wools and blends of a dark color. Heavy weight hard wools and blends of a light color. Light weight silks and fragiles of a dark color. Light weight silks and fragiles of a light color. And lastly, the bleeders (garments susceptible to excessive dye fading).
Separating by weight is important. The heavy weight fabrics are much more durable than the lighter weight fabrics and can usually withstand the wash times necessary to adequately remove soils. Typically, dark fabrics tend to be dirtier (they are often worn longer) and will require a longer wash cycle. They also dry much slower, so when cleaned with lighweight garments they will often be the cause for streaks and swales, resulting in re-cleaning of the lightweight garments.
Separating by color is a must. Sorting by color, keeping the light colored garments and white garments separate from the dark colored garments will help to avoid discoloration from the bleeding of dark dyes onto the lighter colored garments and greatly reduce the risk of garment claims from this type of redeposition.
Separating the bleeders is crucial. Dry cleaners today are taking in more garments that will have dye fading and bleeding than we have ever experienced in the industry. These garments are a major cause of garment damage. It is crucial that the drycleaner watch for these types garments, pre-test to see if they will bleed and separate those garments that do bleed, so that they can be run in a bleeder type of load (garments are cleaned off filter and solvent is sent to the still after this batch cleaning). This will help to prevent garment claims, reduce maintenance needed to keep solvent in good condition and extend the life of cartridge filters.
These are the basics of garment classification. However, this can be greatly expanded on to include garments with fancy trim, beads, sequins or household items, restoration type work, heavily soiled garments/uniforms and the list can go on and on. Most new dry cleaning machines such as the Union, Firbimatic and Columbia are now coming with a great selection of programs that will cover the majority of those needed by a dry cleaner when separating into proper load classifications.
*The challenges of proper garment classification. The volume of dry cleaning that is being processed by the dry cleaning plant will dictate the practicality of using these load classifications. High production plants will have a much easier time with these classification than the smaller plants. Because of this, how you classify garments will really depend on your work flow and plant procedures, as well as machine size and volume of clothes processed. The classification procedure you use should be one that will give you the greatest degree of separate classifications while still maintaining efficient production rates. The deciding factor for the cleaning procedure of any load of dry cleaning must be based on those limitations of the most fragile item in that particular load of dry cleaning to avoid damage.