Lost Sweater – Found Thanks to Dry Cleaning!

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A sweater found in a Minneapolis parking ramp was returned to it’s owner last week – all because of dry cleaning Technology!

That’s right, thanks to significant increases in technology over the past several years, dry cleaning has become an extremely high-tech industry.

Every time your shirt, sweater, pants – you name it – is dropped off with us, it receives a small barcode.  This barcode is usually placed in an out-of-sight location so it is of no inconvenience to you and your garments, but the information it holds is extremely valuable.  Within that tiny barcode holds all kinds of information about that garment, including things like:

  • the type of garment it is (shirt, pants, dress, etc)
  • the fabric, color and brand of the garment
  • who the garment belongs to
  • when the garment was checked in at our stores, where it is within the cleaning process and whether it is ready to be picked up
  • even the amount of times that garment has been to us!

This information allows us to use the utmost care and quality standards in handling and cleaning your garments. And, for one lucky customer, it helped her get her sweater back!  Another customer found a sweater on the ground in a St Paul Community Ed parking lot after a theater performance once night.  She knew we barcoded our items, so looked at the care label – and sure enough – a barcode!  She emailed us with the barcode number, and we were able to locate the customer it belonged to, and to get her sweater back to her!  She had just “written off” the sweater – which was one of her favorites and most expensive and never thought it could be located..!

It’s a great feel-good story for a nice Thursday afternoon, eh?!

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When is the Best Time to Clean My…?

UGGs?

The spring (March, April)  is usually the best time to clean these after you have trekked through the snow and salt all winter.  It’s important to remove the salt as soon as possible and to place a protective coating on your UGGs before letting them sit all summer.  That way, when the unexpected snow storm comes next October, you can pull out your UGGs and be ready to go!

Rugs?

Late spring, early summer  is best to clean your household rugs.  Just think about all the times you’ve stomped in from outside on that rug, and how much dirt and salt has built up on it. Vacuuming is only able to pick up the top layer – what about the dirt that has worked it’s way inside the rug?  It’s best to plan for annual cleanings – just once per year can help your rugs last three times as long!

Winter Coats?

At least once at the end of the winter.  Remember, you wear your winter coat almost every day in the winter – and you drive, eat, travel and more while wearing it.  Once the snow and ice finally decide to start melting away, and you’re able to switch to a light spring jacket, make sure to bring your coat in to us – that way it’s cleaned and properly stored until next winter!

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How Are Clothes Cleaned?

At St. Croix Cleaners, we use one of three types of cleaning for your garments: dry cleaning, wet cleaning, or laundering.

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[accordion_toggle title=”Dry Cleaning”]Dry cleaning uses solvent to remove soils and stains from fabric in specially designed machines. In fact, the term “dry cleaning” is misleading: it is called dry cleaning because the solvent contains no water and does not penetrate the fibers as water does. The main advantage of dry cleaning is its ability to dissolve greases and oils in a way that water cannot, while protecting delicate fabrics that do not respond well with water. The dry cleaning process begins with the pretreatment of spots and stains using special cleaning agents. The garments are then loaded into a machine resembling an oversized front-loading washer. It produces similar mechanical action to loosen embedded dirt. Throughout the cleaning process, the solvent is filtered or distilled to ensure its clarity. The garments are dried in the same machine and have no residual solvent odor after cleaning. [/accordion_toggle][accordion_toggle title=”Wet Cleaning”]Wet cleaning is the professional process of removing soils from garments and other textile items using water. The American Association of Textile Chemists and Colorists (AATCC) definition for Professional Wet cleaning is: A process for cleaning sensitive textiles (e.g., wool, silk, rayon, linen) in water by professionals, using techniques which minimize the potential for adverse effects. It is followed by appropriate drying and restorative finishing procedures. [/accordion_toggle][accordion_toggle title=”Laundering”]Professional laundering for shirts and other “washable” items is another process we use to keep your garments looking their best. Special detergents, additives, and finishes set commercial laundry apart from home laundering. Collars come cleaner and professional pressing offers a crisper finish. We offer different levels of starch: no starch, light, medium or heavy.[/accordion_toggle]
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St Croix Cleaners' Dry Cleaning Steps

  1. We check the labels for adequate care instructions and fiber content.
  2. We classify the garment according to fabric type, color, degree of soiling, and cleaning process, dry cleaning, wet cleaning or laundering.
  3. We remove spots and stains using special equipment, special stain removal agents, and water.
  4. We reapply any sizing, water repellent and other finishes when necessary and possible.
  5. We finish the garment on professional pressing equipment to restore its original shape and appearance. We replace missing or damaged buttons and perform minor repairs whenever possible according to plant policy.
  6. We package the garment neatly in a protective wrapping.

If you’d rather watch a video than read a list of words about how we do dry cleaning – check it out: “Dry Cleaning in 90 seconds”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4jq_PbwCHM

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Dry Cleaning: Then and Now

Believe it or not, people have been entrusting their garments to professional cleaners for millenia! Local garment care businesses have around since at least as early as the Ancient Romans (togas didn’t clean themselves, you know!), and waterless (“dry”) cleaning has been used since the mid-1800’s (did you know that the first dry cleaning patent granted in the U.S. was also the first patent ever to be granted to an African American?). While people have always needed their clothes cleaned, laundry and dry cleaning methods have changed a lot throughout the centuries, with many innovations occurring just in the last decade or so.

Here’s a quick history lesson:

Then:

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Who says you need an internal combustion engine to provide laundry delivery service? The first “laundry wagons” were motored by horses! This photo from the early 1900’s shows the laundry wagon “fleet” of Elk Laundry Company (the original name of White Way Cleaners). As you can see, it was made up of both horse-drawn and motorized vehicles!

Now:

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St. Croix and White Way Cleaners continue to offer (free) home delivery! Our “wagons” look a little more modern nowadays…

Then:

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Evidence of “professional” garment cleaning dates back to the Ancient Romans. Launderers were known as fullers and their workshops were called fullonicas.

Now:

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Our brand new Loring Park location, connected to Treasured Garment Restoration, can serve any of your garment care needs: laundering, dry cleaning, alterations, preservation, and vintage restoration. Or visit one of our other nineteen locations throughout the Twin Cities!

Then:

kerosene

Believe it or not, kerosene and petroleum were used as solvents In the earliest years of dry cleaning. Sure they got out the stains, but think of the smell!

LATER:

Equipment at Nu Life FL 002

Beginning in the 1930’s, dry cleaners cleaned garments using a chemical called perchloroethylene (known as “perc”). Perc is a soil contaminant and carcinogen, and cleans so harshly that it can lead to color loss and other damage. According to the EPA, the majority of drycleaners still use perc as their primary solvent.

Now:

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St. Croix/White Way Cleaners is 100% perc-free! We use only non-toxic/earth-friendly solvents like Hydrocarbon, a biodegradable and odorless compound. Not only is this better for the Earth, it’s better for your clothes! Learn more about our earth and fabric-friendly cleaning process here.

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Six Stains, Six Years in a ROW!

ST CROIX CLEANERS EARNS INTERNATIONAL DRYCLEANING AWARD

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For the 6th consecutive year, St Croix Cleaners has earned the prestigious Seal of Approval for Quality Garment Cleaning & Customer Service.  The Minnesota-based cleaner passed all the rigorous cleaning and customer service evaluations.  Earning the Seal of Approval signifies that St Croix Cleaners has successfully maintained high quality cleaning standards and has proven their ability in complex stain removal and consistently demonstrates superior quality and customer service.

This prestigious international award program is administered by the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute, a Washington-DC-based group.  To date, approximately 140 companies around the world have attained the Seal of Approval.

“Finding a good cleaner who will consistently treat you like a valued customer shouldn’t be a guessing game,”  Drycleaning and Laundry Institute CEO Mary Scalco said.  The 24-year veteran of the cleaning industry noted, “By becoming a Seal of Approval cleaner, St Croix Cleaners proved there is a difference between quality cleaners and their competition.  Now customers know where to find a cleaner who will treat them and their garments properly – every time.”

Each year, Seal of Approval Drycleaners must renew their status with the program by successfully completing stain removal and cleaning performance tests.  In addition, each business must meet other requirements such as continuing education, community service, and offering superior customer service as evidenced by the company’s standing with the Better Business Bureau.

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The Drycleaning & Laundry Institute represents the interests of the cleaning industry, clothing manufacturers, and consumer advisors in identifying those cleaning plants that provide the highest level of clothing care.  The group began accepting applications for the Seal of Approval Award of Excellence for Quality Garment Cleaning & Customer Service in 2005.  Visit their website or call Mary Scalco at 800.638.2627.

www.gooddrycleaners.com

St Croix | White Way Cleaners is an award-winning dry cleaning company based in Stillwater, Minnesota.  They have won the DryClean and Laundry Institute’s Seal of Approval 6 years in a row and have been voted “Best DryCleaner” over 10 times by Reader’s Choice.  They specialize in exceptional customer service, high-quality garment care, and eco-friendly dry cleaning by using non-toxic solvents, bio-degradable plastic bags, a water conservation system, and recycling hangers.  They have 20 drop-off locations throughout the Eastern Metro and within Minneapolis and St Paul.

www.StCroixCleaners.com   |   www.WhiteWayCleaners.net

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Drycleaners; Launderers Laud Monopoly Piece Change

In a move that shocked half the planet this month Hasbro announced they would be replacing the iron game piece in their popular Monopoly game. “Replacing the iron is exactly what drycleaning and laundry professionals do,” said Mary Scalco. Scalco is CEO of the Drycleaning and Laundry Institute, a trade association for professional drycleaners and launderers.


“No one likes irons or ironing. We were overjoyed to learn there would soon be one less iron in millions of homes around the world, even if it is a miniature replica game piece,” Scalco said. “Way to go, Hasbro!”

In today’s world, people want to look good but they don’t want to have to iron their clothes to do it. Drycleaning and Laundry professionals help eliminate the need to do tedious ironing. Readers may identify a professional drycleaning or laundry service in their area at www.DLIonline.org.

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Eco-Friendly Dry Cleaning: What's in it for you?

Have you been wondering what the phrases “Eco-Friendly”, “Earth Friendly” and “Non-Toxic” really have to do with dry cleaning?  And why it should matter to you?

To put it in the simplest of terms, ‘earth friendly’ means that non-toxic solvents (that’s right, solvents that are NOT toxic) are used in the dry cleaning process to clean your garments.  By using this different type of cleaning solvent, you will notice substantial improvements to your wardrobe including:

  • Softer feeling clothes
  • No color loss (colors actually stay brighter, longer!)
  • Garments last longer
  • Better care and cleaning for delicate fabrics and embellishments
  • Your clothes will no longer have that “dry cleaner” smell

green-dry-cleanersIn addition to using non-toxic solvents, we also use bio-degradable plastic bags, online billing methods to save paper, recycle hangers, have the ONLY water-conservation system for a dry cleaner in Minnesota and try our best to design our home delivery routes to cut down on gas usage.

All of this contributes to decreasing your carbon footprint, and to helping you feel great about preserving the environment for future generations!

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Supercharging Green Cleaning – The K4 System

At St Croix | White Way Cleaners we’re always looking for ways to improve the quality of our cleaning, while still keeping with our earth friendly mission.

Since building our new plant in 2007, St Croix | White Way Cleaners has been using a solvent known as Hydrocarbon. Hydrocarbon is an odorless, biodegradable compound, that works very well (Just look at our five straight Seal of Approval wins from the DryCleaning and Laundry Institute!) with the added benefit of being earth friendly.

Recently though, we discovered an exciting new solvent package that has all the environmental benefits of Hydrocarbon, but that cleans garments even better : SystemK4!

Before we get into what makes K4 better though, we should probably explain what Dry Cleaning itself really is.  It isn’t actually the act of cleaning your clothes when they are dry.  They still are saturated and become ‘wet,’  just not from water.  For over 100 years, Dry Cleaners have primarily used a chemical called perchloroethylene, also known as “Perc”, as the solvent in the dry cleaning process.  This is a harsh chemical which cleans your clothes very well, but with each wash can fade the colors and roughen the fabrics  Perc is also responsible for the chemical smell most people associate with Dry Cleaners.

But besides just bad smells, Perc is also considered a hazardous chemical and some researchers have declared it to be a carcinogen. It is taxed by the government to use, and must be disposed of properly.  Every dry cleaner in the nation must pay into a drycleaners’ “superfund” for hazardous waste cleanups (even if the dry cleaner doesn’t use Perc!).  If there is a spill in a dry cleaning facility, it can be very expensive to clean up.

K4 has no such risks; K4 is completely non-toxic, 99% organic and 100% biodegradable.

One of the benefits of Perc was its aggressiveness against oil, fat and grease based stains. While Hydrocarbon could clean such stains, it wasn’t as effective and sometimes required multiple cleanings.

K4 on the other hand, tackles those stains as well as Perc did, something our dry cleaning geeks love!  It also cuts down on the need for pre-spotting because previously hard to get stains lift out on the first wash.

Other K4 benefits include:

  • No Color Loss
  • Extended Garment Life
  • Softer Feeling Clothes
  • Safe on Delicate fabrics, beads, sequins and embellishments.
  • Dermatologically  tested

As you can see, K4 is a “win win” for us at here at St Croix | White Way; we get the cleaning power of Perc and the environmental friendliness of Hydrocarbon. We’re thrilled to be using such a state of the art system,  and think you’ll be just as thrilled when you see the results for yourself!

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