Ask the Expert
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. The care label on a sweater indicates it is hand washable. Can I wash it in a machine on a delicate cycle?
A. There is some risk involved in using any care process not recommended by the manufacturer. Hand washing involves manual removal of soils with water, detergent, and a gentle squeezing action. A care label that calls for machine washing, in a delicate or gentle cycle, indicates the soil can be removed with water, detergent or soap, slow agitation, and reduced time in a washing machine.
Hand washing is a restrictive care process that minimizes the amount of abrasion a garment receives in cleaning. If hand-washable garments are machine washed in a gentle cycle, agitation may be further minimized by putting the item in a net bag. Even this procedure is in violation of the care label instruction, however, and places responsibility for damages on the launderer rather than the manufacturer.
Q. Should I use hairspray to remove a ballpoint ink stain?
A. Hairspray and water can remove ballpoint ink, but you may be trading one problem for another. That’s because hairspray could contain alcohol and oils such as resins and lanolin. The alcohol in the hairspray can cause color damage especially on silk; likewise, oils and other ingredients could lead to additional stains.
Q. How do you remove deodorant and antiperspirant residue?
A. Many people do not realize that prolonged contact with deodorants and antiperspirants may cause permanent damage. Combined with the effects of perspiration, the damage can be extensive. The most frequent damage is caused by overusing these products, or infrequent cleanings. This leads to the buildup of a stiff, caked-up residue or to fabric damage.
To prevent chemical damage, do not overuse the product and allow it to dry before dressing. Wear dress shield with silk garments.
To remove the residue on washable garments, wash as soon as possible after wear in the hottest water safe for the fabric. Soaking in a detergent containing enzymes or an enzyme presoak may be necessary. If the stain remains, try using three percent hydrogen peroxide or chlorine bleach, according to fiber type or care label instructions. Before using, test for colorfastness.
Q. How should I clean my rayon garments?
A.First we must remember that rayon is a manufactured fiber composed of regenerated cellulose derived from wood pulp or cotton linters. It is absorbent and comfortable to wear. There are different forms of the fiber know as rayon, viscose, cuprammonium, high-wet modulus and lyocel sold as Tencel™.
With the exception of lyocel, rayon is very sensitive to water. Many dyes applied to rayon are not colorfast and will bleed or migrate upon contact with moisture. In addition, manufacturers often add sizing to rayon in order to achieve a desired body or drape. Some sizings are water-soluble, and washing will distort the shape of the garment. dry cleaning is recommended for most rayon garments. Although substantially similar in chemical composition to rayon, lyocel can be either drycleaned or washed. However, when caring for garments made of lyocel it is important to follow the care instructions carefully. If a garment made of lyocel is washed when should have been drycleaned, it may result in excessive shrinkage and a wrinkled appearance.
Q. Does frequent dry cleaning shorten the life of a garment?
A. On the contrary, frequent cleaning prolongs the life of a garment. Not only do stains set with age, making the garment unwearable, but ground-in dirt and soil act as an abrasive, like sandpaper, causing rapid wear of fibers. Also, insects are attracted to soiled clothes and will cause further damage.
Reprinted by permission of the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (formerly IFI).