The Relationship Between Shirts and Starch

Starch and sizings are laundry additives that can increase the firmness of fabrics, particularly dress shirts. A study conducted by the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute, the Association of Professional Drycleaners showed starch and sizings can both protect and harm shirts
at the same time.

Shirts undergo two types of abrasions. One type is called flat abrasion, and it refers to the abrasion that occurs when the shirt rubs against any other surface. The other type, flex
abrasion, refers to the stretching of the fibers when the wearer bends an elbow, or otherwise stretches the material.

Starch adds protection to shirts, enabling them to withstand higher degrees of flat abrasion. However, since starch stiffens the fibers and makes them less flexible, it reduces the degree of flex abrasion a shirt can withstand.

Tensile strength is the measure of how well fabrics and fibers resist breaking under tension. Evaluation by DLI’s Textile Testing laboratory found that shirts with medium starch and no starch had similar tensile strength. Variances in tensile strength were evident between shirts with no starch and shirts with heavy starch.

After 10 laundering cycles, the tensile strength results on the shirts with no starch was 29% higher
than the results on the shirts with heavy starch. Even after 25 and 50 cycles, there was still about a 20% difference between the two groups of shirts.

Heavy starch and sizing can decrease the tensile strength of fabrics not by degrading the material directly, but by increasing its rigidity.

The major function of starch is to add body or stiffness to a fabric which in turn will produce little flexibility. This lack of flexibility causes the fabric to snap when tested rather than stretch, which decreases the fabric’s tensile strength. Starched and sized shirts were laundered to remove the starch and tensile strength was retested. The results indicated a significant increase (30%) in tensile strength after starch removal.

The life expectancy of a shirt is shortened by the use of starches and sizings by reducing its ability to bend, stretch, and straighten during use, according to the IFI study. Balancing out those negatives are the bonuses of having better whiteness retention, a crisper look, and increased resistance to staining.

Another way to keep your shirts looking crisp and professional is by adding Million Dollar Collar plackets to your favorite shirts so that even without a tie your shirt stands up and never falls down. Ask your customer service representative about adding this to your shirt to try it out and then having it automatically installed when you bring in a new shirt.

Please visit StCroixCleaners.Com to learn about all of our available services.

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Special Care Tips For Your Summer Whites

Summer brings out the brightest colors. Reds, pinks, yellows, purples, blues, and whites. White? Yes, white is a color.

In their natural state, many fabrics have an off-white or yellowish cast and are often bleached to remove this natural color. Manufacturers often add optical brighteners to make fabrics appear whiter and brighter. Occasionally, these agents break down, causing the fabric to revert to its natural off-white or yellowish color.

Exposure to light can break down fluorescent brighteners, causing the areas not exposed to light to be unaffected. Thus, the front of a sweater laid out to dry in the sun may turn yellow while the back remains white. Once this happens, it usually can’t be corrected.

Graying of whites is another story. Dingy-looking white is most often caused by incomplete soil removal over an extended period of time despite repeated washing.

This can be caused by any or all of the following:

  • Not pre-soaking heavily stained garments
  • Too little detergent
  • Overloading the washing machine
  • Water temperature too low
  • Sorting clothes incorrectly

 

The Drycleaning & Laundry Institute has tips to keeps your whites looking bright. To remove this soil buildup and restore whiteness, take the following steps with washable items:

  1. Use the hottest temperature of water acceptable for the fabric
  2. Add 1-2 cups water conditioner
  3. Add detergent and
  4. Add clothes and run through a complete wash and rinse cycle.

As always, bringing your items into a professional dry cleaner is the easiest and most effective way to keep your items looking and feeling their best.

We hope these tips help. If you run into any trouble with any of your garments, we’ll be happy to help!

Visit StCroixCleaners.Com to learn about all of our cleaning and alteration services at our 15 locations.

 

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Summer Cleaning Tips You Can Use At Home

Summer comes with a lot of difficult stains. The Drycleaning and Laundry Institute lets you know what method you should use at home and when you need to bring it into the professionals.

Bleaching:

Bleaching is a last resort if the stain does not respond to either dry-side or wetside measures. Ordinary three percent hydrogen peroxide bleach, available at grocery and drug stores, is the easiest to use. But test the bleach first on an unexposed seam or a sample of the material. Pour some bleach on the sample piece of fabric. Wait five minutes for a reaction. Many white fabrics contain an optical brightener that will turn yellow when bleached. Very bright-colored fabrics may contain optical brightening agents as well; a bleach may cause these colors to become dull.

 

Rust Stains:

Rust stains should be approached with great care. Rust removers are sold at grocery stores. Use them only on washable garments or fabrics so they can be laundered immediately afterward. Laundering will rinse out the rust remover. If it is not removed, it can burn the skin. Do not use a rust remover on any fabric containing metallic threads.

 

Tough Stains:

Some stains don’t lend themselves to home methods. Most medicine stains, fingernail polish, adhesives, and paint are difficult to remove and should be taken to a professional cleaner.

 

Don’t Wait:

All stains should be removed before they have time to set. Time or heat can set stains. Even a professional cleaner will have trouble getting the stain out if he or she doesn’t receive the garment soon after the stain occurred.

 

Delicate Fabrics:

Do not attempt home stain removal on leather, suede, furs, vinyl, fabrics that are heavily sized like taffeta and organdy, nets, satins, and those with colors that bleed easily.

 

Invisible Stains:

Many fruit juices and drinks disappear into the fabric and leave no visible stain, though the sugars are deposited there. Drycleaning fluid doesn’t dissolve them. Heat browns them causing a stain that doesn’t come out. If you spill juice or soda on a fabric, flush it out immediately with water – even though the stain is invisible. For more specific advice, ask us, we’re always happy to help.

Visit St Croix Cleaners for information on all of your dry cleaning needs.

 

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Spring Cleaning- What You Need To Know

Put your snow blower away and kick off your boots: Spring is here!

Spring always feels like it couldn’t come soon enough- but the spring cleaning always manages to sneak up on you. Don’t rack your brain about what to clean and how often- we have the answers to your spring cleaning questions!

Bedding:

  • We all hopefully spend at least 7 hours in bed every night- which means you should be cleaning your sheets often. It’s recommended to clean your sheets and pillowcases in hot water WEEKLY. Having your items cleaned in hot water helps remove mites and bacteria that can sneak in.
  • Comforters and mattress covers don’t have as much direct contact with your skin so both should be dry cleaned MONTHLY. Let us take care of cleaning the extra bulk so you don’t have to!

Winter Wear:

  • Clean your winter wear BEFORE storing items away. Sweaters and sweatshirts should be cleaned and then stored folded in a drawer. Items like winter coats should be on a shoulder-saver hanger in a hall closet to allow room to breathe. Dry clean your winter sweaters, suits, and coats before storing them to alleviate food stains that can turn orange over the summer in your closet and attract insects who destroy fibers that lead to holes.
  • Don’t forget about your boots! Bring your boots to St Croix Cleaners so our specialty Treasured Garment Restoration team can clean salt stains to remove bacteria that cause odor. Whether your boots are fine leather or comfortable UGG boots– we’ll have them clean and smelling fresh for when you take them back out in the fall.

Winter Storage:

 

  • DO NOT store items in vacuum-sealed bags. Natural fibers (like wool) and your favorite fluffy coat need air to maintain their structure and keep the optimal shape. It can take items as long to un-compress as time stored.
  • INSTEAD store your items in closets or drawers. You can deodorize a closet naturally by storing a box of baking soda in your closet, using bamboo charcoal bags on your hangers or adding dryer sheets to closet shelves or clothing pockets. If you’re looking for a kitchen DIY you can also add dried lemon or orange peels in a bag to your closet to keep it smelling fresh.

 

Let us protect your clothing so you can store your favorite pieces properly through the warmer months. For more information on our locations and dry cleaning services visit StCroixCleaners.com.

 

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Why You Need To Clean Your Luggage

The holidays include wheeling luggage through airports, throwing them in the back of cars then putting them back in the hall closet or under the bed. Luggage takes a beating, and it’s important to keep clean after big trips. If you have soft-sided luggage, St Croix Cleaners can clean it for you starting at only $69.99 plus taxes for a carry-on size! (effective February 2019; prices subject to change). See our dramatic “before and after” below!

 

Why do you need to clean your luggage?

Not only does its look better, but cleaning your suitcase keeps the bag from deteriorating, making pricey luggage last longer. Dirt and oils you get on your soft-sided luggage can cause fabrics and technical coatings to deteriorate over time. And all the gravel and dirty streets you wheeled your luggage through? That could cause the wheels to harden and cause more issues in the future. We also clean the fine leather on your luggage and keep it shining. Get $10 off your luggage cleaning now through 2/28/19!

What are some bigger issues that can happen with luggage?

Cleaning your luggage helps fight against mold. Those crumbs or spills in your bag from travel can create tough mold and have a foul smell. We clean the suitcases both inside and out!

How often should you get luggage cleaned? 

That depends on how much you use your luggage. If you’re a frequent traveler we recommend cleaning your luggage once a year. We also offer a $10 service to waterproof your bag so it stays clean and dry! Visit any of the 16 St Croix Cleaners’ locations for more information.

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Common Sense Rules for Summertime Storage

Now that winter is over, it’s time to store away all those winter clothes until next season. Follow these simple rules to keep your winter fashions looking good season after season.
•Wash and dryclean everything before storage. Some stains that are now invisible may darken with age. Dirt and food are also invitations to insects.

• Make all necessary repairs—sew sagging hemlines, replace missing buttons, and fix split seams— before cleaning and storing for the season.

•Store all items in a cool, well-ventilated area. Hot attics, damp basements, and garages are to be avoided.

•Store away from natural and artificial light. A cool, dark closet is a good location for storage. Store woolens in cedar chests or other airtight containers. Second choices for storage are cloth or canvas bags and cardboard boxes. If you store your garments in a closet, drape a cloth sheet over your clothes to protect them from dust and light. Do not store leathers, furs, and woolens in plastic. Plastic encourages moisture, which can create mildew.

•Pack airtight containers (other than cedar chests) with mothballs suspended above or separate from the clothes—never place mothballs directly on the clothes. Cedar blocks or chips also discourage moths.

•To decrease wrinkles in sweaters, fold them and wrap in white tissue paper before storing. If you hang your sweaters, fold over the cross bar to avoid shoulder stretches. Down, like all winter clothing, should be cleaned (either washed or drycleaned according to the care label) before storage. Down should be stored loosely to allow for air circulation.

•Furs should be stored on a wellpadded hanger in a cool, dark place, ideally with a professional fur storage company or a St Croix Cleaners with fur storage capacity.

•If you do not have proper storage space, ask us about box storage. You can get your clothes cleaned and properly stored all at the same time.

 

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Let St Croix Cleaners make this the Best Prom Ever!

You spent weeks searching for the perfect dress, now how to keep it perfect for prom.  St Croix Cleaners has you covered with all our before and after Prom Services!

Alterations

As soon as you get your gown from the dress salon you’ll want to set up an appointment with your local St Croix Cleaners’ Alteration Specialist.  Most prom dresses are designed to be altered and are made several inches longer than other formal gowns.  This means that hemming is pretty common when you buy your dress. All of our alteration specialists can take-in, let-out and completely redesign your dress if necessary.  You’ll want to start this process 1-2 months before prom depending on how much work you need to be done.

Wrinkles

A week before the big day you can bring in your dress to St  Croix Cleaners so we can release any wrinkles that may have happened during transport or alterations.  On the day of the prom, you’ll want to make sure your gown is pushed to the side of your seat as much as possible.  This reduces wrinkles from the car ride and makes sure no one sits or steps on it!

Small Stains

Now leading up to a few days before prom, you might decide to get a spray tan.  If you do, make sure to do it 2-3 days before the dance.  It gives the dye time to settle into your skin so it doesn’t transfer onto the dress.  Spray tans love to stick to fabric and can permanently stain the dress if it doesn’t get cleaned off.  If any spots of make-up or food get on the gown, as you are getting ready or at the dance, we have a little trick to getting them out! This trick is only for polyester or synthetic gowns. If your dress is silk, cotton, or another natural fiber you will want to bring it to St Croix Cleaners as soon as possible. Take some warm water and lightly dab the spot.  Then put some pH neutral soap; such as blue dawn dish soap, or a Woolite pen on the spot and rise with water.  Let the dress air dry for a few minutes and you should be good to go.

After the Ball

You’ve danced the night away and had an amazing time, now what?  The day after the dance you’ll want to take a good look at your dress and determine if there are any saturated stains, tears, or any damaged beading and sequins.  If you spilled anything clear like soda or sparkling grape juice on your gown it will dry like nothing is there but will eventually discolor the dress and make it very hard to get out.  Once you’ve looked over your gown you’ll want to bring it to your local St Croix Cleaners. Most gowns need individual care to best remove hemline stains and other spots.

It is best to send it to a professional dry cleaner rather than cleaning at home! Any dress with beads or sequins can get severally damaged in regular washing machines. Most of the time beads are attached on large strands by monofilament thread; similar to fishing line, making it prone to breakage. Silk and other natural fibered dresses like cotton and linen have to be dry cleaned, washing this type of gown will cause shrinkage and distortion of the fabric.

Last Steps

After the cleaning is done, whether your planning on keeping or selling the gown, you’ll want to take the St Croix Cleaners’ biodegradable plastic bag off the dress.  Make sure to keep the gown on a padded hanger if you plan on keeping it in a closet, this will take some of the weight off the fabric so that it does not deform the dress.  A better option would be to lay the dress flat in a spare bedroom or closet, this takes all weight off the dress.  You’ll want to put a cotton sheet over it or a fabric garment bag to prevent dust and discoloration.  For long term storage, anything over a year, you’ll want to consider an acid free box with acid free tissue paper.  This ensures no discoloration or distortion for the life of the dress.

Whether you just got your dress or the magical night is over, St Croix Cleaners has you covered from start to finish! Let us be a part of your high school rite of passage!

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FAQs

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN **DRY CLEAN ONLY** AND **DRY CLEAN**

When reading the instructions found on care labels, we often see the phrase “dry clean” or “dry clean only.”  Many people believe that these instructions are interchangeable, but that is not true.  There is typically a difference between fabrics, and more care is often needed for clothing marked “dry clean only.”

“Dry Clean Only”
A garment that is marked as “dry clean only” is made of material that demonstrates a tendency to deteriorate when cleaned by any other method.  It’s a clear warning to the consumer that no other cleaning method should be used if they wish to maintain the integrity of the garment and allowing it to be useable after the cleaning process.

“Dry Clean”
The purpose of the “dry clean” designation is to give the option of some sort of hand cleaning/washing and drying for the garment at home.   This designation is used when the fabric involved has been demonstrated to hold it’s shape, color and not likely to change if cleaned by hand washing and air drying at home.  The “Dry Clean” designation is intended to convey that gentle cleaning methods other than dry cleaning may be acceptable.   At the same time, there is still risk in doing them at home and the best method is to dry clean the garment professionally.

–IF IT SAYS DRY CLEAN, CAN YOU CLEAN IT AT HOME?

Garments with care labels that say Dry Clean or For Best Results Dry Clean AND are made of natural fabrics like cotton, linen, cashmere and even some silks – may be done at home with a little extra care and patience.  AVOID or use caution if doing this with synthetic blends (rayon, viscose, acetate, etc.)

—HOW DO YOU CLEAN IT?

This depends on the fabric type.

* Keys to cleaning are: hand wash cycle (minimal agitation)

* NO extraction (spin) cycle used at all

* Air Dry/Fluff Cycle or hang to dry or dry flat (no heat)

* Reshaping may be required with some garments

For example a 95% cotton blazer with 5% Lycra a that has a care label that says “Dry Clean” could be done at home on a gentle hand washing cycle in cold water.  Avoid any extraction cycle (because of the Lycra and use an air fluff (no heat) cycle to dry it or hang dry.

Cashmere – would be similar –  a hand cleaning cycle with minimal agitation and no spin or extraction process– lay flat on a towel to dry (no tumbling) and reshape

–WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO GET THE STAIN OUT? BLOT? DAB? RUB?

Blot, Dab or Tap … NEVER EVER rub and avoid “wiping”

—IS THERE A STAIN A DRY CLEANER CAN’T REMOVE?

Yes, sadly there is.  While we love being the Super Stain Fighting Heroes – there is a stain or two that a dry cleaner may not be able to fully remove without possible damage to the garment (usually can get it to lighten).

It depends on a number of factors including:

  • Fabric type (delicate fabrics may not be able to handle certain stain removal techniques w/out risk/ damage)
  • Nature of the stain
  • How long the stain has been there
  • Any treatments already tried
  • Home remedy attempts often make a dry cleaner’s job more challenging
  • The knowledge and skill of the stain remover

Example:  curry sauce spilled on a sheer silk garment with unstable dyes in the silk fabric meaning that color on the fabric may be pulled would be difficult to fully remove. Why? Curry is a natural dye. Silk is a porous fabric and naturally soaks up and adheres stains, dyes to the fiber.

Example:  ground in dirt / tar on the hemline of a silk dress (wedding, long dress or formal) may be difficult to fully remove (some “shadowing” may be left when inspected closely)

Example: Coffee w/cream that had club soda poured over it – while it may flush out some of the coffee color – the club soda acts almost as a shilac over the acidic part of the stain and sets it in.

Another truth is…A dry cleaner may not always be sure if they can get it out until they are able to give it a try.

–ARE THERE ITEMS THAT SHOULDN’T GO THROUGH THE DRY CLEANER?

That may depend on your dry cleaner but typically no.  Most full-service dry cleaners utilize both dry and wet clean cleaning methods as well as wash and fold (laundry) services.

Even if the item says do not dry clean (example many down coats say this on their care labels) – your dry cleaner can STILL clean it!  We simply use a special wet cleaning method to clean the coat instead.  Even if the item says Spot Clean Only – your dry cleaner can take care of this for you.

We  see everything from cushions, costumes, Prom dresses, drapes to dog beds and doll clothes and more!

–HOW OFTEN DO YOU RECOMMEND COMMON ITEMS GOING TO THE DRY CLEANER?

IN PARTICULAR, MEN’S SUITS, WOMEN’S FORMAL DRESSES

SUITS

How often you should dry clean really depends on how often you wear the garment and how well you take care of it between getting it cleaned.  If you only wear your suit 2 times a year and only for a few hours at a time and do not spill anything on it, you don’t need it cleaned as frequently.  However, if you wear the same suit at least once a week – we recommend cleaning it every 3-4 wears to keep it looking it’s best.  And of course if you spill anything on it – bring it in right away to be treated!

FORMAL DRESSES

Pretty much the same as above…it depends on how careful the wearer of the dress was when they wore it.  You may be able to get up to 4 wears out of it before needing to clean it.  Some formals after one wear have beverages spilled on them, the hems look like they danced in the parking lot all night and there are visible perspiration stains!

If there are no spills, no major perspiration or deodorant marks (which can cause color fade and fabric to weaken)… then you’re probably ok to just hang that lil black dress till the next time you need to wear it and just steam / iron out the wrinkles (or take it on for a professional press only in between wears).

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5 Tips for Storing Summer Clothes

The first day of fall is nearly here, and soon we’ll be trading our shorts and sundresses for warm coats and cozy sweaters.   Here in the midwest, we often store our summer clothes for  6 months (or more!).  Having to pack away our summer wear can involve more than just tossing them into storage bins and shoving them under the bed.

 

Tip #1 Proper Care

Take the time to properly care for your clothes before storing them and they’ll last you for years to come…plus you’ll also be less likely to have to deal with nasty pests like moths, which can eat holes through sweaters and other fabrics – which you won’t see until after they’re cleaned next year!

Tip #2 Sort

Sort through your clothes first to decide what stays or goes.  This is a great time to create your “donate” pile and dispose of or recycle any clothes that are ripped or torn that you don’t plan to mend.  Other items to consider removing from  your wardrobe would be anything that doesn’t fit properly, clothes you’ve fallen out of love with, unworn items, and clothes that don’t make you feel amazing.

Tip #3 Clean Everything

Before you pack those summer clothes away, it’s important to clean everything. Not only does this keep your smelling and looking fresh (dirt left on clothes can leave permanent stains over time).  Cleaning everything prevents unseen moths and other pests from taking up residence.

As you sort through the clothes you’re keeping, separate out the hand-wash and dry clean only items and your regular laundry items in another.  Be sure to clean and care for the remaining clothes according to the care label instructions.

Tip # 4  Fold

After you’ve cleaned the garments you want to keep and store, fold and stack your items from heaviest (on the bottom) to lightest (on the top).  This will help keep your fabrics from developing too many creases.  If you want to help keep fabrics from creasing, you can put a layer of acid free tissue paper between the folds of each garment.

Tip #5 Protect & Store

There are a number of options when it comes to storing clothes.  For short term (6 months or less) storage – plastic storage bins work well, cedar chests or an old suit case.  The one material to avoid would be cardboard.  It’s a natural attractant for pests.

It’s also important that you protect your clothes during storage.  Be sure the storage container you’re using is clean and dry and free of any dirt or bugs.  Place your folded clothes in the container.  Be careful not to stack in there too tightly.  You want air to be able to circulate around the garments.  Place a layer (or two) of acid free tissue paper over the top of the clothes in each storage bin.  You can also toss in a cedar block or sachet on top of the acid free tissue – just be certain the cedar doesn’t come in direct contact with your clothes

If you have a garment you wish to hange for storage.  Use a thicker, padded hanger to avoid indenting or creasing the shoulders.  Cover the garment with a clean cotton or linen sheet to help protect it during storage.

Be sure to keep your stored clothes in a dry, cool location away from direct light and heat.  Closets or under your bed are good options.

Happy packing!

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Storing Winter Garments

Spring is here! The snow is finally melting and it’s time to swap out the winter gear for those fresh spring looks.
Before we get too eager, it’s important to prep your garments for storage.
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 The first step is cleaning. The reason we clean items before storage is because any dirt or stains have the potential to become
bigger problems when left untreated for an extended period of time.
We often see garments come in that have stains that sat untreated all year, which makes them difficult to remove.
Some stains are easily forgotten about and can cause major problems on your garments. For instance, say you spilled some clear soda on your sweater and when it dried you couldn’t see it anymore.
Even though the stain has “disappeared”, you still have sugar and other chemicals that hide. Once they oxidize, it’s common for them to turn a yellowish/brown color. As mentioned above, the longer a stain goes untreated, the harder it is to remove. So even if it comes to our attention during the dry cleaning process, we still can have our experts
work on it rather than having it sit all year and turn into a much worse stain.

A huge mistake many of our customers make is storing items in the plastic you receive your garments back in. Storing your garments in plastic can cause discoloration if left for too long!
We suggest promptly removing the plastic bag when you get home.

Our favorite tip when tucking your clothes away is instead of using moth balls, try the skin of your favorite citrus.
They need to be changed periodically but you completely avoid the moth ball smell and instead are greeted by a citrus scent.

lemon-peel

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