What Is Wetcleaning?
by Lee Colonna


Spotting Chemical Tools of Tomorrow
by Martin Young


Neutral Lube
by Ryan Aguglia, with Mike Achin


A Glimpse of the Law
by George Stevenson


Progressive Hiring Strateigies
by Monika Manter


Laundering New Quilts
by Jane Zellers


Dealing with Batting and Fiberfill
by Jane Zellers


Color Safe Oxygen Bleaches
by Bob Edwards


What Is Wetcleaning?

Submitted by Lee Colonna / Quality Cleaners, Inc.

Wet cleaning is a cleaning process that involves gentle machine washing using water, biodegradable soaps, and conditioners. Essentially, the conditioner mixes with the water before it touches the clothes. This inhibits the fibers’ ability to absorb the water. This is the main cause of shrinkage in the garment and renegade dye transfer.

As found on Wikipedia, “According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), wet cleaning is the most environmentally sensitive professional method of garment cleaning. It does not use hazardous chemicals, it does not generate hazardous waste, nor does the process create air pollution and it reduces the potential for water and soil contamination. The specialized detergents and conditioner used in the wet clean process are milder than home laundry products. All of the products are disposed of down the drain and easily handled by the local waste water treatment facility.” The other benefit- wet cleaning offers a better cleaning solution to water soluble stains (food, blood, soda, alcohol, etc.) than dry cleaning.

Isn’t wet cleaning just washing? Wet cleaning is similar to washing but with a few key differences. Firstly, the water is conditioned before touching the clothing as noted above. Secondly, there is significantly less water used in the wet cleaning process. Also, although done in a machine that is also capable of washing, wet cleaning demands a much more specific and gentle mechanical action based on the type of garment. The specifics include the time and speed in ‘tumble’, the temperature of the water, and the extraction time and speed. There are also significantly different soaps and conditioners involved in the wet cleaning process. Typically these soaps and conditioners are also ‘GREEN‘, biodegradable, safe for the people using it, and the environment.

What garments do you use wet cleaning vs dry cleaning? We have found success wet cleaning many beaded and/or decorated garments that have been historically less successful in dry cleaning.

Spotting Chemical Tools of Tomorrow

Submitted by Martin Young

For those of you that are old hands to the dry cleaning industry, change may come hard. In the past, effective supplemental stain removal has been a product of using aggressive chemical tools. However, these chemical tools have been under scrutiny by the media and various governmental agencies for over twenty years. The time is at hand for all of us in garment care to stop and take a fresh look at each and every chemical tool we are using.

We have fought a good fight, but the time has come to spend our time searching for new formulations.

In the early 90’s the most common immersion solution used in dry cleaning; caught the attention of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency. Alternatives to perchloroethylene have rapidly taken a large share of the market. If the upcoming Clean Show in Las Vegas is to be used as a barometer, you will be hard pressed to find a perc dry cleaning machine on the floor of the exhibition hall. Quality results are still available, but, at the expense of longer run times. Multisolvent machines are available; using less aggressive, but more environmentally friendly, immersion solutions.

The “machine” is going to require some assistance if high quality is to be achieved and maintained. Unfortunately, the traditional workhorse of supplemental stain removal, trichloroethylene, is being targeted by regulators. It is an effective tool on dryside stains and has been often used for touchup, due to its extremely high evaporation rate. This is another case where aggressiveness will have to be replaced by an equally effective, but slower acting chemical tool.

Do not wait until the last moment. Start today to research and test alternatives to removing things like acrylic nail polish, liquid paper, and latex paint. Pay attention to trade magazines; both the articles and the advertising. You can rest assured that the manufacturers of spotting chemicals are working hard to stay ahead of anticipated regulations. The days of simply processing garments through a perchloroethylene dry cleaning machine are quickly coming to an end. The use of trichloroethylene, even in small amounts at the spotting board, seem to be numbered. Start today to re-equip your plant with the chemical tools of tomorrow.

In the meantime, I recommend that you add a bottle to the tray on your spotting board, amyl acetate. Acting as a co-solvent/catalyst, it can boost the effectiveness of your current dryside spotters without using trichloroethylene. Apply your normal spotter and light mechanical action. If the results are less than expected; place a drop of amyl acetate on the area and apply additional light mechanical action. This should improve results. Flush the area with a general spotter/ leveling agent and dry clean as normal.

I will keep looking and testing. One warning, though. I am seeing some “alternatives” to trichloroethylene that are using various concentrations of ACETONE to boost power. There are far too many acetate linings and blends, for me to give the green light to acetone in any concentration. Time will tell, but, melted acetate is a claim you can not deny.

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Neutral Lubricant

Submitted by Ryan Aguglia, with Mike Achin

Neutral Lube is essential to becoming a good stain removal specialist. I would say that if you have never used neutral lube then you have never reached your full potential as a stain remover.

A neutral lube makes water wetter. Basically it helps the stain “slide” off the fabric. Here is a way that will help you understand how a neutral lube works. Let’s say I have all of you over for a spaghetti dinner tomorrow. After dinner, I split up the dishes into 2 sinks. In one sink I have neutral lube (dishwashing detergent) and the other sink is just plain old water. Which set of dishes do you think will be easier to clean? The ones with the dishwashing detergent, right? Why, because it helps the water get wetter and the spaghetti sauce just slides off the dishes. Inn the other sink, the spaghetti sauce is not coming off the dishes too easy because there is nothing to help lubricate the water.

So, your 1st way to use a neutral lube is right out of the bottle. A NL is not acid or alkali based so basically it is as safe as water. So on any type of wetside stain (Tannin or Protein stain) doesn’t it make sense to see if the NL will help the stain slide off the fabric 1st before you start messing around with acid and alkali based chemicals?!! I will answer that for you…….yes it does!!!!!!!

#2: Fine fabrics protein spotting: Mix 1 tsp of RSR in a 12ounce spotting bottle of NL. to remove those tough protein stains on silks, rayon, etc. This is a good tip to pass around with all the holiday parties coming up!!

#3: It makes a great PROTEIN spotter if you take 3 ounces of 26 Baum ammonia and 9 ounces of your NL in a 12 ounce spotting bottle. You need to be careful using this on wool but on everything else just watch this formula work great on blood and perspiration stains!!

#4: 4 ounces of 28% Acetic Acid and 8 ounces of NL makes a great acid based tannin formula to go after wine, coffee, chocolate,,etc…….(not recommended to use on acetate based fabrics).

#5: Add 1 tsp. of salt to a 12 ounce bottle of NL for a great urine stain remover. Good tip to know as the Holiday season approaches and customers start having accidents!!

There you have it, a number of ways to use a NL. It does not matter what kind of solvent you are cleaning with because you will use these formulas on the spotting board. Of course after you are done, using a good leveling agent is required.

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A Glimpse of the Law

Submitted by George Stevenson, Stevenson’s Odorless Cleaners

Dry Cleaners face a host of legal and legal related issues each day. Below are a few of those issues under separate headings.

Real Estate

Dry cleaners like other retail service businesses look for locations that are high traffic and economically advantageous. This often means a lease in a shopping center or strip mall. Unfortunately many landlords are leery of dry cleaners. As an industry dry cleaners have to promote use of the latest environmentally safe technology and alternative solvents to combat negative sentiment and adverse statistics. Many commercial landlords believe dry cleaners are the leading source of environmental liability at commercial retail properties. Dry cleaners generate relatively large volumes of hazardous substances-EPA estimates the average dry cleaner generates 660 gallons of hazardous waste ( groundwater contamination including wastewater discharges to sewers and septic systems). Moreover, due to poor housekeeping, dry cleaners have historically had a high frequency of spills and discharges (groundwater contamination including wastewater discharges to sewers and septic systems). Some notable facts:

• Studies by EPA, the State Coalition for Remediation of Dry Cleaners (SCRD) and others have estimated that 75% of the approximately 30,000 dry cleaners currently in operation have contamination (i.e., 22, 500 actively contaminated sites);

• Over 150 dry cleaners are listed in the EPA CERCLIS and over 200 dry cleaners appear in the New York environmental remediation database;

• EPA estimates there may be an additional 9,000 to 90,000 former dry cleaner sites that likely present a significant risk of contamination.

Insurance

Many dry cleaners are facing contamination and environmental cleanup issues. This situation is extremely stressful and financially challenging. Often overlooked is the potential for old insurance coverage to help with expenses. Old package policies could provide a dry cleaner with coverage needed to address the environmental contamination of property from perchloroethylene (Perc) spills below ground that occurred years earlier.

In most states, policies issued before 1986 do not have pollution exclusions barring coverage for Perc spills and can be used to pay for environmental investigations. Being able to put your hands on these old policies may be hard and with consolidation in the insurance industry may require coverage tracing. There are, however, experts known as insurance archaeologists that can help.

Working Conditions

The California Supreme Court recently ruled that employers are required to provide seating accommodations for employees such as sales clerks who are standing for prolonged periods. The ruling acknowledged that limitations exist where job performance would be adversely affected by sitting; but also said employers cannot manipulate the situation by creating the adverse condition. The case prompting the ruling involved CVS pharmacy employees. Currently there are multiple class actions with a variety of plaintiffs seeking redress on this issue.

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Progressive Hiring Strategies

Submitted by Monika Manter

One of the biggest struggles that most dry cleaners face is employee turnover and finding new employees to fill those spots. As an industry, those who have been successful at filling open positions have had to turn to more and more unconventional methods in order to recruit good employees. Unfortunately, the days of people coming to our door looking for work are over.

There are 2 keys to finding good employees, the first is making sure they mesh with your company culture and the second is attracting them to your business.

Core Values

Before you even advertise a position, the key is to figure out the core values of your company. This can seem like a daunting task, so a really simple way to start this process is to think of 3-4 of your superstar employees and write their names on a white board. These are the employees that you wish you could clone over and over and fill your plant with them. Think of all of the great qualities they possess and list them under their names. When the lists are done, look for the common qualities across those employees. Those common qualities are a great start to figuring out the qualities you value for your company and the culture you’re trying to create. (If you want to dive deeper into this, I highly recommend the book, “Traction” by Gino Wickman).

Once your core values are defined you know the kind of person you’re looking for. Interview for those values by determining questions that assess how well a candidate exemplifies those them.

Finding quality candidates in a competitive market

Now that the easy part is over, how do you reach and find candidates. Most cleaners put a sign in their window, advertise on indeed and craigslist and complain that they aren’t getting any good applicants. The workforce is changing and the days of people coming to you for a job are over.

Make sure your employment ads reflect your core values

Make your ads consistent to your values and culture in order to attract the type of person you’re looking for. In general, write ads that are different than everyone else’s. A friend of ours in the commercial laundry industry recently posted this ad:

I know what you’re thinking and yes, this was actually published in the newspaper. I’m sure it doesn’t surprise you that one of this company’s core values is humor and they’re trying to attract a very specific person; one with a sense of humor. A requirement for working at City Laundry is that their employees have fun at work. They don’t want to waste time sifting through candidates who can’t take a joke because those people won’t last long within their culture.

This is a pretty “out there” example but you see my point, they are hiring based on their culture and values.

Make “You’re Awesome” cards to hand out.

Always be on the lookout for amazing people. If you’re at the grocery store and an employee impresses you hand them a “you’re awesome” card. Our cards have our core value logo on the front and on the back say: “We are always looking for the BEST PEOPLE to join our team. Call us and let us know that __________ said you are awesome! You could be our next employee!”

Include an e-mail and phone number on the card and make the entire interaction laid back. Simply say, “Wow, you do a great job and Target is lucky to have you! If you’re ever looking for a new position, we’re always looking for friendly, engaging people like you.” It’s as simple as that and the person will be flattered. The best part is, these cards can be made at a very low cost online.

Employee referral program

Some of our best employees have come from recommendations of other employees. It makes sense; your staff will recommend good workers because they don’t want to work with someone who’s not pulling their weight.

Create an employee referral program to incentivize your staff to recommend others. We offer a $50 bonus if an employee recommends someone who we hire and an additional $50 if the recommended employee makes it to 60-days.

Hand out flyers

Know your town. We’re close to a college campus, so when we’re desperate for staff, we will go to a busy corner of campus and literally hand out flyers and talk to students about our open positions. We’ve found some great employees this way. This can be done anywhere within your community. Go to Walmart, a mall, a busy street corner. The important part is to start conversations with people. Even if they’re not looking for employment, they probably know someone who is.

If you find yourself struggling to fill open positions, try something new! If you’re able to continually seek out potential candidates you’ll have a leg up when a position opens up at your business.

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Laundering New Quilts

Submitted by Jane Zellers

Stains such as body oil and general stains must be removed. As in other garments, soils trapped in the fibers tend to be abrasive like sand paper and can be more damaging than the cleaning process itself. Frequent cleaning is more important to the longevity of a quilt or comforter than to allow excessive soils to build up and clean infrequently, which may result in a much more aggressive cleaning process.

When laundering a quilt, chose a neutral detergent such as Orvus, Ivory Snow dishwashing liquid or any one of the many neutral detergents available to our industry. Avoid alkaline or built detergents. When working with antique quilts and quilts of multiple colors, spot-test first to make sure no bleeding of dye occurs.

  1. In an inconspicuous area, gently rub a wet, white, terrycloth towel over the surface to see if any color rubs off. If color rubs off, the dyes will very likely bleed even when cleaned in cold water. This risk must be discussed with the customer. Remember, the hotter the water, the faster (and more extensively) the dyes tend to bleed. If they do not bleed, move to step 2.
  2. In the same area, using the same terrycloth towel, apply water and a drop of neutral synthetic detergent, and rub gently. Since adding a neutral detergent increases the chance for dye bleeding, the item should be color safe if the color does not bleed. Remember the warmer the water, the more chance for dye transfer to occur. Use cold water only, for the best results. By testing with a drop of protein formula and use of the steam gun will give you the best idea of whether the dye will bleed, or not bleed to water.

General tips:

Make sure the water has no chlorine content.

DO NOT allow the quilt to soak in dirty water. If the water becomes dirty, drain and re-fill with clean water. Make sure the final drain after the rinse is running clear so the detergent is thoroughly rinsed out of the quilt. After wet-cleaning has been completed, remove the quilt or comforter from the machine. Do not allow it to remain wet for a long period of time or dye transfer may take place. Some dyes tend to migrate the longer they are in contact with water.

Keep in mind the extra risk involved when processing a valuable antique quilt and family heirlooms. You may want to contact a textile conservator if you do not have a good comfort level with the time in hand.

The following information is more specific to fragile and/or antique quilts. Drying an antique quilt in a dryer is extremely hard on it because of the tumbling action. It can also cause crocking, which is a loss of color generally caused by friction, and streaking of the colors. A wet quilt should never be hung to dry. Hanging a wet quilt can weaken the fabric used, and tear it from the weight of the water. The best alternative is to dry flat. Aware that this is next to impossible in most dry-cleaning plants. Devise an overhead hanging system made from PVC or the like. If you can support the weight at several places, the risk in decreased, but there is still stress on the fabric. If you build a device using a type of lattice or a grid pulled up by a wench, to dry through both sides, dry time would be decreased and the possibility of damage miniscule. For the least amount of risk the item should be dried FLAT with air circulation around the entire item.

Care of Cotton Quilts with Cotton Batting:

            Fluorescent light and sunlight can affect colors on cotton quickly. If drying is done under direct light, sandwich the quilt between two sheets for protection from the light. If this method is used, oscillating ceiling fans must be installed to help dry the piece. When the quilt is almost dry, place it in the dryer, on air, to fluff the fabric using absolutely no heat. As you can see, carefully processing valuable and sentimental antique quilts can be a challenge.

Common sense must be used when cleaning these items as it is impossible to know the strength of the piece in hand. Handle with care.

  1. Fill the washer with 80 – 85° F. water. (27 – 30° C.)  A washer without a center post is preferred.
  2. Dissolve one Tablespoon of Orvus Paste, ¼ cup Ivory dishwashing liquid or ¼ cup of neutral detergent in the bath before entering the quilt.
  3. Gently agitate for 15 minutes. If it is a fragile quilt, soak for 10 minutes and do not agitate.
  4. Spin and repeat steps 1 – 3 if necessary for heavy soil removal.
  5. If possible, remove the quilt and fill the washer again.
  6. Rinse thoroughly by gentle, hand agitation.
  7. Gently spin and lay flat to dry.
  8. When the item is just about dry, fluff in a dryer on a low temperature.

Care of Cotton Quilts with Wool Batting:

Many of today’s wool battings are made to be washable without excessive shrinkage, using the proper procedures.

Alkaline-based detergents can shrink wool fibers even in cool water. Use a neutral detergent that does not contain enzymes or fabric brighteners. As mentioned before, Orvus, Ivory Snow, or any one of the many neutral detergents available to us can be used successfully on wool. Do not use store bought detergents that contain bleaches as this may have an adverse effect on wool.

To eliminate additional shrinkage, it is best to keep the wash water temperature and the rinse water temperature as close as possible.  A cold-water rinse is best for wool. Going from a hot wash temperature to a cold rinse is one common cause for shrinkage in fabric.

Steps for washing a wool quilt or comforter containing a wool batting.

1.   Make sure there is no chlorine present in the water when working with wool, as chlorine disintegrates protein fibers. Wool and silk are both protein fibers.

2.   Fill the washer with 80 – 85° F. water. (27 – 30° C.)

3.   Thoroughly dissolve 1 Tablespoon of Orvus Paste or ¼ cup of Ivory dishwashing liquid or ¼ cup of a neutral detergent in the bath before entering the quilt.

4.   Manually move the piece by hand in a top loading washer or large sink, or gently agitate for 30 – 45 seconds.

5.   Soak for 4-5 minutes.

6.   One minute of light extract.

7.   If heavily soiled, drain and repeat the wash process.

8.   Rinse on a gentle cycle for 30 – 45 seconds and extract lightly to remove excess water. Light extraction should not damage the wool, but there is no guarantee. It greatly reduces the dry time. The more agitation the wool batting is subjected to, the greater the possibility for shrinkage.

9.   Lay flat to dry on a clean sheet and block. The dryer causes excessive agitation, and heat causes shrinkage and felting. If possible dry flat until mildly damp, then tumble for a few minutes on air to fluff and soften the outside fabric as well as the batting.

10. When barely damp, fluff in dryer on air.

The more quilting done on a quilt or comforter where wool batting is used, increases it’s serviceability and reduces its’ chance of shrinkage. Interestingly, if a quilt is quilted too closely, the air space within the fibers is flattened and will result in less warmth provided.

 

Care of Cotton Quilts with Polyester Batting:

1.   Fill the washer with 80 – 85 F. water. (27 – 30 C.)

2.   Thoroughly dissolve one Tablespoon Orvus Paste or ¼ cup Ivory dishwashing liquid or ¼ cup neutral detergent in the bath before entering the quilt.

3.   Gently agitate for 15 minutes.

4.   Lightly extract, remove if possible and fill with water again.

5.   Rinse with little agitation and extract lightly.

6.   Dry on a permanent press setting until just about dry. For best results, allow to air dry entirely as to not damage the polyester batting.

Polyester batting is heat sensitive and drying on a high heat (to dry faster) will only result in a claim. The batting becomes very brittle and shrinks, which gives the quilt or comforter an entirely different appearance and hand.

 
Storage Tips for Consumers

1.   Avoid attics and basements where extreme temperature changes take place.

2.   Store between 60 – 70° F in a fabric bag or sheet that has never been exposed to chlorine bleach.

3.   Store in an area where there is approximately 45% - 60% humidity. High humidity encourages mold and mildew.

4.   Store away from outside walls since this eliminates the change in temperatures.

5.   Store in a dark area with good air circulation and remember to refold often, about every six months.

6.   Do not store in plastic bags, since this cuts off air and emits harmful by-products as it ages. Static electricity is also generated by plastic, which attracts dust.

7.   Wrap in de-sized, unbleached muslin. Purchase unbleached (natural color) muslin and wash it at least three times to remove the sizing. Do not use a white sheet that may have been washed with chlorine bleach at one time. This may create damage to the textile it is covering at some point in time.

8.   Quilts should be folded, even though folding also creates stress on the quilted fabric, stitches, and batting. Rolling muslin or rolling acid-free tissue in every fold can reduce this stress. All items stored in this manner should be re-folded and aired out frequently (every six months) to avoid permanent creasing or tears resulting from stress on the fabric.

9.   Do not hang antique quilts (even dry ones) for a long period of time as this creates stress on the fabric from the unsupported weight.

If you and your customer have the space, quilts can be rolled for storage. Roll loosely with the front (top) to the inside if it is a pieced quilt, as this will place less stress on the stitches. Before rolling, cover the tube with the acid-free tissue or de-sized, unbleached muslin. After it is rolled, cover with the same muslin sheet.

Because quilts can be valuable not only in art form, but in their sentimental value as a family heirloom, extra care must be taken. A new or antique quilt can be ruined easily by improper handling, cleaning, and storage.

 

Fusible Non-wovens

Fusible, otherwise known as fusible interfacing, adds shape and body to garments.

A fusible is a fabric that has been coated with a heat-sealable, thermoplastic adhesive. It may also be a thin, web-like structure made from thermoplastic fibers applied to the back of a fabric and then bonded by heat and pressure.

Fusible’s eliminate a certain degree of stitching for the manufacturer, usually on coat and jacket lapels. In recent years, more fusible’s are used to increase productivity in manufacturing. It is important the proper techniques and the correct selection of fusibles are selected or problems will occur for the drycleaner and the consumer. The layers may separate and shrink differently during cleaning and may bleed through to the surface fabric. This may result in a change in appearance and in the hand of the garment.

Many non-wovens are also used for disposable goods, such as diapers. Non-wovens are less expensive to produce than woven fabrics for disposable items in particular.

Felt

True felt is a web of wool or part-wool fibers held together by interlocking of the scales of the wool fibers. Primitive people made felt by washing wool fleece, spreading it out while it was still wet and beating it until the fibers matted together like a fabric. Today, different processes are used for making felt from various fibers.

Felt is stiff and less pliable than other structures. They are not as strong as other structures and do not ravel or fray needing no seam finish. It has industrial uses as well as some clothing uses. It can be used for insulation, padding, soundproofing, various crafts, and polishing. Felt also has wide use in products such as clothing decoration, hats, and pennants.

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Dealing with Batting and Fiberfill

Submitted by Jane Zellers

Batting is defined in the dictionary as “fibers wadded into sheets.” The industry’s definition is a “soft assembly of carded fibers.” It is one of the most essential parts of a quilt or comforter. Without it, there is no “quilt” on a quilt. Fiberfill is a manufactured fiber used heavily in skiwear, coats, and many household items.

Batting/Fiberfill is a non-woven construction; before manufactured batting was available, people made batting at home. Years ago, small amounts of cotton or wool were laid side by side between the two outer layers of fabric, and closely sewn together to form a quilted pattern. Many antique quilts were made from silk, linen and wool fibers. The most common preferred fiber was cotton, with worn out quilts used as batting.

Beware of the fiber content and the closeness of the quilting when determining the serviceability of a quilt or comforter. The best quality batting can still shift in cleaning if the batting is not anchored or sewn securely.

History of Batting:

Studying the battings used has done much of the dating of antique quilts. With the introduction of the cotton gin, you began to see more seeds in the filler used. Prior to this, seeds were removed by hand, which resulted in a far better job than the early cotton gins. Quilts made in the first quarter of the nineteenth century had many seeds. Improvements to the cotton gin led to few seeds left behind in the cotton. A quilt batting with as few as two or three seeds to the square inch dates the quilt to around 1830. A quilt batting with a seed or two every few inches leads us to believe the quilt was made around the 1850’s. Between 1840-1860, quilting was so popular, women were demanding better products to use for fillers, with very few seeds.

Today, you see some cotton battings with small chips of seed. Quilters and manufacturers must be careful when using batting that has many seeds. The dark specks from the seed can readily show through white and light colored fabrics. If there is any oil in the chip, it can readily stain the fabric. This type of batting is to be used with muslin and medium-dark colored fabrics.

Since cotton batting tends to stick to the outside fabric layers, it is easier to quilt under a machine. Polyester battings tend to stretch, slide and distort more, making it more difficult to quilt. Polyester is a manufactured polymer, which provides uniformity and consistency of supply, which cannot be equaled by natural fibers.

Many quilters are looking for a distinct look of shrinkage after washing; this is why cotton is preferred over polyester by many people. Anyone understanding batting, realizes the importance of selecting the proper batting for a comforter, quilt, or throw.

The size of the filament is referred to by denier, which is a number system rating fineness. The lower the denier, the finer and softer the fiber, and more drapable the finished batting. When rating the fiber, the higher the number (denier) the stiffer and coarser the fiber. The finer the fiber (lower denier) requires more fibers used per square inch, resulting in more crossovers and bonding points for stability, which is an advantage.

Quilt battings have very specific purposes, so choosing the correct fiber is a very important step. Many processes are used when producing batting, such as resins, mechanical entanglement, and a thermal process used to stabilize a thermoplastic structure.

One of the first companies to produce batting commercially perfected a method of producing cotton batting in the mid 1840’s. They glazed sheets of cotton by coating a slab of marble with starch paste, laying a web of cotton on it, and then peeling it off. This “web” was hung on a clothesline to dry, resulting in a rather slow production.

Remember: Each bonding point secures the fibers, and the more bonding points and crossovers you have, the less chance you have for shifting to occur.

Some fibers can be treated to create more fullness and bulk to the fiber. The longer the fiber, the less chance it has for migration and bearding (working its way through the surface fabric) to occur. Resiliency is very important since fibers that stay crushed become thinner, losing their loft and insulating power. Finishes can also be applied to enhance washing and drapability.

The larger the fiber, the fewer fibers it takes to fill the same space, resulting in a less stable construction due to fewer crossovers and bonding points. I’m sure you are beginning to understand the importance of the manufacturer selecting the proper batting to be used in a product and how it can affect its’ end use, in dry-cleaning, wetcleaning, and washing.

Much of the following information refers to quilts that may be of sentimental value, a family heirloom or your everyday quilt. Reading this will help you understand the need for handling these pieces with care, whether it is an antique piece or just recently purchased in a department store. You must determine how “fragile” the quilt is so damage does not take place. It is in your best interest to ask the age and value of a quilt that may be in question.

Types of Batting:

Polyester fibers can be crimped as they are extruded from the spinneret to add more bulk and loft to the fiber. Due to the ability to create whatever length polyester fiber you chose; using polyester can be an advantage to a degree because the longer the fiber, the less chance for migration. Since polyester does not absorb well, it means quick drying.

Given the advantages, there are also disadvantages when using polyester for batting. Polyester feels very warm to some people, since it holds the heat next to the body. Because polyester fibers do not breathe, it makes some people feel as though they are wrapped in plastic.

Polyester batting is somewhat transparent, allowing the color of the backing fabric to shadow through to the top. On white and pastel shades, this transparency appears as a dingy, dull color.

Cotton  fibers were not used very heavily in the 70’s and 80’s. The interest in using cotton as a batting is becoming more popular again since it has its’ advantages as well. One of the most important characteristics of cotton is the fact that it can breathe, which makes it very comfortable. This fact creates an entirely different comfort level than polyester, which does not breathe. Unfortunately since cotton is a natural fiber, it cannot offer the same consistency as polyester, therefore the length of the fiber used cannot be controlled to the same degree as polyester.

The finer the fiber, the better it is for quilt batting. Cotton fiber length varies according to the type of cotton used. The longer the cotton fiber is, generally the more expensive the fiber becomes. Shorter fibers (generally less expensive) make a denser web, thus more shrinkage than a web made from longer fibers. Due to the compactness of the fibers, fibers short in length are more difficult than long fibers when quilting by hand. The advantage of the short, cotton fibers used in hand-made quilts is the ability to shrink, giving it an antique look.

Since cotton batting is opaque, the light will not pass through the batting, allowing no dingy appearance as in polyester.

Wool fibers have been used as quilt battings for many years. Wool fibers have barbs, giving it a loft that allows it to return to its original shape, giving it great resiliency.

Wool batting used today is made by blending fibers from various breeds averaging in length of 2-3 inches. The finer the wool fiber, the more likely it is to beard. Before wool fibers are used for batting, they are scoured (which removes the lanolin) and dried, which pre-shrinks the wool fiber. Since wool is a very forgiving fiber, it is easy to work with during manufacturing.

Silk fibers are not currently commercially manufactured as batting. Since silk is very lightweight and has excellent body, it would make a most desirable batting. Unfortunately the high cost of producing batting from silk is cost prohibitive.

On dark colored fabrics, bearding can be very apparent, since the white fibers poke through the dark fabric. The migration of the fibers through the surface fabric is a good indication the incorrect batting has been chosen.

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Color-safe oxygen bleaches help you remove more stains

Submitted by Bob Edwards

Drycleaners and launderers can use generic oxygen bleaches to offer their customers more complete stain removal.  These bleaches will help remove residual stains on garments and make you, the operator, look like a hero to your customer by removing more stains!  Color-safe oxygen bleaches should be used after the exhaustion of other means of conventional stain removal. 

Conventional stain removal is accomplished in four steps:

  1. Remove oils from the stain.  The presence of oil can be a barrier to the use of other water-based stain removers.
  2. Remove tannins from the stain.
  3. Remove proteins from the stain.
  4. Remove any remaining residual dye (usually a "yellow stain") with a color-safe oxygen bleach.

I have walked into many drycleaning plants where the operator doesn't keep any kind of bleach on premises.  If you aren't bleaching, you are most likely leaving residual stains on your garments.  Use the following generic oxygen bleaches to add value to your service by helping to remove those pesky residual dye stains.  These bleaches are safe to use on most colors.

Sodium Perborate is an inexpensive powder oxygen bleach that is most often used as a soak or an additive in a wash cycle.  Sodium perborate can be used to remove general residual yellow stains from shirts.  It is alkali and is great for soaking shirts, lab coats, and cotton blends.  Allow at least an hour to soak with warm to hot water.  DO NOT USE sodium perborate on wools or silks.  The alkalinity can cause yellowing or even dissolve the yarn of loose knit wools leaving small holes.  Sodium perborate is used as a color-safe additive in some retail laundry soaps.  If your garment appears stiff after soaking in sodium perborate, add a little acetic acid to your rinse cycle to neutralize, then rinse and add conditioner to soften it.

Sodium Percarbonate is also a powder oxygen bleach that performs similarly to sodium perborate.  It tends to work a little faster and may be more aggressive.  Use it similarly to sodium perborate.  Again, DO NOT USE sodium percabonate on wools or silks.  Sodium percarbonate tends to dissolve in water rather well (better than sodium perborate).   I learned a neat trick regarding using it on the spotting board: place a clean handkerchief flat on the spotting board.  Then take a teaspoon or two of percarbonate and place it in the center of the handkerchief.  Close the kerchief around the percarbonate, and twist the handkerchief so that the percarbonate remains in a tight ball.  Hold the "ball" close over your fabric's  stained area, and fog the ball lightly with steam, so percarbonate melts through the handkerchief and on to the stain.  Let the garment stand, and examine a half hour later.  Repeat if necessary.

Hydrogen Peroxide can be a very important tool.  It is usually in liquid form, so it is convenient to keep on the spotting board.  It can also be used in a soak.  Hydrogen Peroxide is an oxygen bleach that normally has a neutral pH.  Because it is neutral, it can be used with many wools and silks, as long as these garments can take water-based treatments.  Be careful with silks that have a shiny finish, because the shininess on the material is sometimes a water-based sizing.  The sizing can dull when water-based treatments are applied.  Hydrogen Peroxide is available in concentrations of 25%-30% from your supplier, 8%-10% from a beauty supply store, or 3% from a local drug store.  3% is least aggressive, but requires the longest dwell time.  8%-10% is quite sufficient to safely bleach out small residual yellow stains.  25%-30% can be useful if you mix it 2/3 water to 1/3 peroxide in a spotting bottle.  When using hydrogen peroxide as a direct application spotter, leave plenty of time for the bleaching action to work.

Hydrogen peroxide in a soak can help remove mildew from colored garments.  A soak can also help remove multiple residual stains at one time.  This method saves the labor required to work the stains individually on the spotting board.  For a soak: mix a neutral lubricant like RiteGo (a couple ounces in a 5 gallon pail), water, and a cup of the peroxide concentrate.  Then soak the garment (or garments) overnight.  An old beverage cooler is a good soaking chamber, because it keeps warm water warmer, longer.  Warm temperatures and longer soaking times help the hydrogen peroxide to work more thoroughly.

Come back for my next blog post about using other non-color-safe oxygen bleaches, followed by a discussion on the importance of reducing bleaches.

Bob Edwards
AL WILSON CHEMICAL COMPANY
Bobedwards@alwilson.com
201-741-0100

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