THE “OTHER” FIBERS

Fiber content labeling in apparel and textiles is mandatory in most countries in the world. The label includes country of origin, information on the main fiber types used and their percentages and recommended washing instructions. You will find a label, “100% Silk, Dry Clean Only, Made in U.S.A”. You will once in a while come across a label, “80% Cotton, 17% Viscose, Other fiber; metallic 3%”. The small percentage figure might not mean much to a layman but to a cleaner, it means everything.

Fabrics containing metallic fibers are attractive but not very serviceable. They are not a good choice for garments or items that will be worn or used often. After normal use and care the fabric begins to show general or severe distortion. It appears as a wavy distorted area of the fabric. This is as a result of yarn slippage. The normal agitation of the appropriate care process will further aggravate this condition. Unfortunately, once the yarns have shifted and distorted, there’s no restoration

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The cleaner cannot prevent this kind of damage. The situation can be reduced or eliminated if the manufacturer made the fabric more tightly woven with compatible combinations of yarns.

Usually customers will be advised in advance of the likely outcome or simply decline to them to avoid a disastrous end.

So, the next time you see an item on the rack and it captures your eye, look at the label and think. If it has the component of metallic think to yourself you are setting yourself up for heart break or it’s a ‘one-time only’ outfit.

WHAT THE”BLEEP BLEEP” HAPPENED?

This was my exclamation on morning in May 2014.

Gents and ladies jackets now had leather or suede trimmings on the elbow area (which took the shape of an oval patch) and along the collar and pockets. That was and still is the fashion. As a cleaner we always hope that the manufacturer took care to combine fabrics that accept the same recommended cleaning process.

Once a fashion trend is introduced, within a few months it is replicated by designers and would be designers, all over, all the way down to our neighborhood tailors we nicknamed, “John atunga nnyo!” (John can really sew) What happens then is the quality gets compromised, fabric combinations are not thought through at all i.e. dry cleanable fabrics are combined with non-dry cleanable trimmings and usually these trimming are made to ‘look-like” leather or suede.

The problem fabric being used PVC and it is coated with polyurethane films to give the fabric or trimming a shiny or leather-like appearance. During dry-cleaning, this film dissolves causing blisters, wrinkles or actual cracking of the fabric or patch work in the above case.

Good combinationNot a good combination

The cleaner has no way of predetermining or preventing damage to such trims that are normally dry cleaned. Only the garment manufacturer can prevent such damages by using compatible materials that can withstand dry cleaning.Once the polyurethane film dissolves and peels away, there’s no restoration.

In short not all that glitters is gold. There is no short cut about it. You either buy a carefully combined and out together outfit or you indulge in the outfit that will experience the ‘Cinderella’ effect, you wake up and your beautiful drab is a very dim reflection of what it looked when you purchased it.

 

THE ‘OTHER’ FIBER

Fiber content labeling in apparel and textiles is mandatory in most countries in the world. The label includes country of origin, information on the main fiber types used and their percentages and recommended washing instructions. You will find a label, “100% Silk, Dry Clean Only, Made in U.S.A”. You will once in a while come across a label, “80% Cotton, 17% Viscose, Other fiber; metallic 3%”. The small percentage figure might not mean much to a layman but to a cleaner, it means everything.

Fabrics containing metallic fibers are attractive but not very serviceable. They are not a good choice for garments or items that will be worn or used often. After normal use and care the fabric begins to show general or severe distortion. It appears as a wavy distorted area of the fabric. This is as a result of yarn slippage. The normal agitation of the appropriate care process will further aggravate this condition. Unfortunately, once the yarns have shifted and distorted, there’s no restoration

IMG_7397

 

The cleaner cannot prevent this kind of damage. The situation can be reduced or eliminated if the manufacturer made the fabric more tightly woven with compatible combinations of yarns.

Usually customers will be advised in advance of the likely outcome or simply decline to them to avoid a disastrous end.

So, the next time you see an item on the rack and it captures your eye, look at the label and think. If it has the component of metallic think to yourself you are setting yourself up for heart break or it’s a ‘one-time only’ outfit.

SHRUNKEN DRAPES

 

Just brought back curtains from the cleaners, hanged them back up into the windows and they are not touching the floor anymore!!! Oh no, they shrunk. In a case in which there’s actually no fabric damage but a change in original dimension, this is called Relaxation shrinkage.

During the weaving process, many household fabrics such as curtains are stretched out; some are interwoven with stretch fabric. From the weaving process, fabrics MUST be stabilized i.e. pre-shrinking. Pre-shrinking is needed in almost all fabrics because most materials shrink (relax) when washed for the first time. So before fabrics are made into curtains, stabilizing of the fabric needs to have been done. Failure to have this done will result in relaxation damage occurring even from the normal agitation and /or heat necessary during cleaning and drying.

This can be prevented only by the manufacture if they stabilize the overstretched fabric using the correct pre-shrinking procedure at some point after weaving but before the final product delivery. When the manufacturer properly does this, there will be minimal fabric relaxation even after repeated use and cleaning.

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Professional cleaners cannot prevent shrinkage on curtains that have been overstretched and not stabilized by the manufacture. If shrinkage is not too excessive cleaners can us professional steaming equipment to stretch the fabric back to a useable dimension otherwise some alteration may be needed.

 

It is our prayer that we are always sold fabrics that have been correctly treated before final use.

 

LET’S BLACK-OUT

 

The rains are finally here and with them are chilly nights and mornings. This combination makes ‘sleeping in’ a good option when you have a chance. Sleeping in a pitch-dark room during the day is euphoria, not to mentioned that your curtains are drawn and not even a peep from the light outside This ‘pitch-dark’ room’ is attained by the addition of ‘black-out’ lining to the curtains.

Black-out fabrics are foam-backed fabrics, opaque in nature used to black out light. They are commonly found in hotel rooms as curtain lining blocking out light that would enter through a window when the curtains are closed.

Being in the cleaning industry, we have seen an increase in its use in homes. It’s the aftercare that is to say; cleaning of this fabric that I will be sharing about today.

The name ‘black-out’ would make one think that it’s actually black in color. During its manufacture, a black layer is applied to the fabric followed by a white or any other color. On close inspection one side feels rubbery and the other side feels more ‘cloth-like’

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When you are having curtains with black out lining made for you, it is advisable to have the curtain and the black-out lining as two separate items as opposed to having them stitched together. This makes cleaning much easier because the two items might require different cleaning processes. The blackout lining is attached onto the curtain using the standard curtain hooks onto the curtain tape.

Because of the lining’s location in the windows it receives all the elements; Rain, moisture, UV rays from the sun and most of all the famous DUST. Cleaning away dust and dirt at least every other week prevents the accumulation dirt and discoloration. This can be done using a vacuum cleaning machine while they are hanged up in the windows.

Should you need deeper cleaning; the lining can be sponged down using a sponge and mild detergent. If one decides to completely immerse them in water (which is risky), this should hand washing from large spaces like bath tubs using very mild detergents. Dry them laying them flat down making sure the rubbery sides don’t dry while in touch. If this happens, the rubbery surface sticks together and any act of trying to separate them damages the lining. A damaged blackout lining when hanged back in the window will allow light through all the ripped parts, a sight that one cannot stand.

THE TUXEDO SHIRT FIASCO

I am in the most dynamic line of work and when people hear clothes, they go blank. They can’t imagine what would be so good about clothes! My experience in the cloths cleaning business has been and is still very interesting. You just don’t know what’s coming your way every morning. In many an instant you cannot believe the situations that are surrounding the clothes. Over the years we have witnessed the influx of Chinese products in all sectors of our economy for example; food, machinery, toys, clothing, furniture to mention but a few. Most of the products are really good and competitively priced, and then once in a while, you can come across a product that can be very disappointing. One such item that shocked me about a year ago is a shirt worn in a tuxedo…

When one is going to clean an item of clothing, we start with the assumption that the item is intact, that is to say, the collar was well stitched (it won’t fall off during cleaning) or, that buttons were attached or sewn on with good quality thread, that hems have been stitched firmly into place and not just attached with basic office glue! You get the general idea however, one fine morning, this shirt was received, before and after cleaning it pleats had all unfolded and it ballooned out. After carrying out extensive investigations, we noticed that the “original” shirts all had a stitch that was sewn underneath each pleat all the way down. This stitch holds it in place when it’s worn and as it gets cleaned. The shirts whose pleats were ballooning out were being held in position with glue and no stitch. This glue is soluble in the cleaning chemical thus the distortion after washing. It is when you hear stories of customers telling their friends and any one that would care to listen that; “These laundry people ruined my shirt!” Yet in retrospect they thought they were getting a bargain only to realize that it’s one-time only attire.

I would like to issue a word of caution to anyone buying these shirts, look out for those pleats before you purchase the shirt. Make sure that you can see the stitch underneath the pleat.

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FINDING THE SILVER LINING

I look at the situations I have gone through over time and I confirm that God’s ways cannot be perceived by the human mind and especially those that seem to feel like He has let you down. Many a time you have no idea the valuable lesson that is going to grow you ten times over. One that I vividly remember was more than 20 years ago.

The year was 1998; I had just come back from the UK with my MBA in Financial Management. My aspiration was to work in one of the big banks in Kampala. Before I left England, I went through one high street shop called Wallis and bought four office outfits. One of the items I bought was a black three piece pin stripped suit. It had pants and a skirt so you could wear one or the other depending. I was particularly fond of it because I liked what I saw in the mirror when I wore it! The fit, the cut, the general appearance of it was flattering.

I got married the same year and so did my hunt for a job. I went to quite a number of interviews. However in this one instance, I got short listed and passed through to the last stage. I was offered the job and I was told that I would be called in a few days to pick my appointment letter. As I left the HR’s office I felt I needed to share or rather disclose one last thing. I told the lady I was three months pregnant!! She told me; and I quote, “oh don’t worry my dear. That shouldn’t be a problem. Just wait for my call next week.” In retrospect that was not a wise thing to do considering that nineteen years later I’m still waiting for that phone call!

In May 2013, I interviewed a young lady and offered her a job and told her to start in a few days. Before she left my office, she told me that she had something to tell me. She then reveals to me she was pregnant!! Instantly I am teleported back to 1998, my heart was racing. I took a deep breath and told her that it was ok, and she could start work as we had discussed. I felt like a winner! In that moment, I had got closure. That situation was preparing me for 15 years in the future. That young lady gave birth to identical twin girls and is still with me to date! Let’s not be too quick to think that we are cursed or forsaken, some of the greatest stories of success started with a tragedy.

 

CLEAN AND TIDY

I have a nack for cleaning! It’s almost second nature to me. Many a time I am asked questions about cleaning and when I started blogging I thought; “Why not share my cleaning habits with the world!” I especially thought that these tips could revolutionise the way they live! Welcome to my page and I hope that this journey will be a guide to you mastering the art of cleaning!

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