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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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:

white_way_early_1900s

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:

DeliveryVan

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

Then:

Pompeii

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

Now:

HEN - finished

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:

St Croix Cleaners 011

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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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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Help St Croix | White Way Meet our Hanger Recycling Goal!

As we’ve talked about before, on this very blog, being environmentally friendly is more than just lip-service for us here at St Croix | White Way Cleaners.

We have been leaders in “Green” dry cleaning technology; from our state- of- the- art water circulation system to the use of earth friendly solvents, St Croix | White Way has been committed to do our part.

Now though, we need some help from our amazing customers as well!

We are excited to announce our participation in the Drycleaning and Laundry Institute’s “Cleaners Care: Hanger Recycling Program.”

DLI’s goal is a big one, as the group is looking for its member drycleaners to recycle 25 Million hangers in 2012.

To put that into context, 25 million hangers is roughly equivalent to 750 tons of steel -enough to create six Statues of Liberty!

So far, along with us, nearly 300 environmentally-conscious drycleaners from around the world have pledged to reduce, reuse, and recycle more than 19 million hangers and the resources it takes to make them. With your help, can we make it to 25 million?!!

So be sure to drop off your extra hangers with us on your next visit, and remind others to do so too! With your help, and continued support we’ll be able to meet our goal, and DLI’s!

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Go For a Dip! Swimwear Tips!

We don’t know if you noticed, but it’s been a bit WARM lately! From swimming to skiing, here at St Croix | White Way we know that nothing beats the heat like some quality water time.  That’s why we have a few tips for keeping your swimwear in tip top shape, in between us cleaning it for you, of course!

  • Wet down your bathing suit with tap water before taking a dip in the pool. Remember: Two things can’t occupy the same space at the same time, so a ‘pre-wet’ bathing suit won’t absorb as much chlorine from the pool water as a dry suit will.
  • Remove and rinse your suit in tap water BEFORE you lay down to sun bath.  The UV rays from the sun will accelerate the deleterious effects of the chlorine in your suit.  Or better yet, rinse your suit well and put on a fresh, dry suit for sun bathing.
  • Bathing suits that are 100 percent polyester will fare best in a hot tub.
  • Watch for suits that say “chlorine resistant” on the label. These suits tend to last a bit longer as the less Chlorine, the better!
  • Never wash a bathing suit in the washing machine. The agitation will break down the Lycra and the bra cups; hand washing or dry cleaning is your best option!
  • Never put a bathing suit in the dryer. The heat will cause the elastic to break down faster.  Always dry it away from the sun, FLAT on a drying rack.

We know these tips will help keep you and your swimwear cool this summer!

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10 Summer Fashion Tips

We can’t all be as fashion forward as him!

Let’s face it, fashion can be confusing. Most of us can follow basic trends, but when it comes to the latest and greatest, it can be hard to keep up! That’s why we here at St Croix | White Way have compiled ten fashion tips sure to make you stand out this Summer!

  • 1. Bright Neon Colors
    With neon, a little goes a long way! Skirts, dresses, cardigans and jeans wear this trend well. You can also add neon to your wardrobe in more subtle ways (think belts, shoes, purses and jewelry) to accent base neutrals (black, white, khaki and navy) and give them a fresh look this season.
  • 2. The Chic Sheath
    Classically cut and sleeveless, sheaths pair easily with jackets, cardigan sweaters and a variety of shawls and wraps when you want to dress them up. While still a great choice, think beyond the LBD (a.k.a. the little black dress) when it comes to this style. White, brights and those with subtle prints offer a fresh twist on this perennial favorite for work and social events.

  • 3. Beige Shoes
    Beige shoes in a variety of styles and heel heights complement bold colors and soften dark neutrals. They work well with and without hosiery – just ask Kate Middleton!
  • 4. Bold Prints
    Worn on a single piece of clothing and well-coordinated with a solid top or bottom, strong, bold prints become the centerpiece of an outfit and can help you stand out in all the right ways. While not the easiest look to pull off, strong prints are also being worn from head-to-toe this season. Consider a wide belt at the waist to break up the pattern a bit. Two different prints on two different pieces of your outfit can also work well when each print contains a consistent color theme, fabric, weight and style.
  • 5. Soft, Pleated Skirts
    Soft pleats falling from the waistband of a skirt made of a light-weight summer is a chic and ladylike way to dress this season. Some styles are short, some are long and others graze the knee. For work, pair a knee-length pleated skirt with a structured short jacket for a current and appropriate look that shows off an hourglass figure. For non-working hours, a tight tank tucked into the waistband of a pleated skirt can show off a toned upper body while camouflaging fuller hips.
  • 6. Oversized Earrings
    Combine them with other bold accessories such as bold cocktail rings, weighted cuffs, thick, woven belts and platform wedges or wear them on their own. If you decide to coordinate a necklace with them, long layered options tend to work best. Large gold and silver hoops may be all you need to tackle this trend!
  • 7. Structured Bags
    Their signature “clutch” handle makes them more structured than hobo-inspired looks. Many feature longer straps so you can wear them messenger style across your body. Pick a hue you love and wear it with everything!
  • 8. Crochet & Lace
    We are not talking about your grandmother’s tablecloth and curtains here! Instead, think of these two textures working in a modern way to give spring and summer outfits some clout and feminine style. A crochet maxi skirt with a flat sandal, tee shirt and fun accessories that work with the weight of the crochet is easy to wear and hides less than perfect legs. If you have a black lace dress tucked away in your closet, pair it with a beige sandal or peep-toe pump to freshen it up for the season.
  • 9. Bronze Metallics
    While silver always works in warm weather and gold hardware still adorns most designer bags and the like this season, bronze has snuck in as the metal of choice for fashion A-listers. Naturally warm and vibrant, it looks particularly well with navy’s, plums and, of course, black, white and khaki. Bronze is also a significant make-up trend – brush it on your cheeks as well as eyelids and lips!
  • 10. Patent Leather
    This high-gloss, waterproof material has been used primarily to make black shoes for decades. Although you can wear it year round these days, it still shines best with lighter fabrics and styles. This season, expand your patent leather collection beyond a pair of black patent shoes. A red patent peep- toe can brighten up a navy suit and a straw bag with patent detailing can go to the office as well as the beach. Even flip-flops go from drab to fab when created with patent leather!

And of course, be sure to bring all your fashionable garments in for regular cleaning at St Croix | White Way!


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Production Spotlight: Clothes Barcoding

St Croix | White Way Cleaners does a lot of dry cleaning; 19 stores worth to be exact. With the amount of drycleaning and laundry we do, you may wonder how we keep track of it all.

Some cleaners use permanent marker to write a customer’s name on their clothes; others use less invasive systems like temporary plastic tags or wash resistant paper. While these options “work” they are not ideal, and can easily lead to lost garments, especially when dealing with high volumes.

At St Croix | White Way we’ve gotten keeping track of garments down to a science. Using a sophisticated barcoding system we’re able to keep track of your items no matter where they are in the process.

Barcodes like this one identify store information about your garment in our computer.

The first time you bring in a new garment, a barcode is added to that item. This barcode is then associated with your account and preferences, so that anytime you bring the item in we can instantly see who it belongs too. We can also see your cleaning preferences, such as starch levels or boxes vs. hangers for your dress shirts. It also identifies the garment by color, pattern, fabric and brand label so that we can easily identify which of your garments we have and where they are in our process at any time.

Garments move through many stages to restore them to their optimum condition.  Each step of the way we read the barcode and record data about who, how and when it was processed.  All of this information is available to us in our computer system.  Once your garment is cleaned, pressed and inspected, it is sent to our automatic assembly system.   There an employee scans your item’s barcode and places it on a hanging conveyor system attached to the bagging machine.

The computer system is smart enough to read the barcode and group it with your other garments, being careful to never put more than 4 garments inside an order. Once four of your items are on the assembly system, the computer system offloads the garments together with a printed ticket and advances them to the automatic bagger, all without human intervention!!! The bagger then pulls a custom, biodegradable plastic bag over the clothes, careful not to waste any extra plastic.

The barcoding system is extremely useful. It lets us know all the details of your garments very quickly; how many times we have cleaned a garment, who pressed it, who marked it in and where it is stored can all be figured out with one quick scan.   There have been many times where we’ve noticed a customer dropped a garment in our parking lot on the way to or home from one of our stores.   We give the garment a quick scan and know everything about the garment in an instant. Without our barcode we’d never know whose garment it was, much less who to contact!

Keep watching our blog for more Production Spotlights!

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Keep Your Clothes Looking Cool This Summer!

With the weather getting warmer and summer approaching, we thought we’d take some time this week to give you a few tips for keeping your clothes looking their best no matter what your summer has in store for you!

Perspiration shows up particularly in underarms, collar, back and waistbands of garments. It may not be noticeable at first, but oxidizes over time, becomes darker and it ultimately stains clothing. Garments should be washed or dry cleaned regularly so the perspiration residue is removed when fresh, thereby preventing permanent damage.

Sunscreen and sun tanning lotions contain ingredients that can cause stains. It is best to apply the lotion and let it dry before dressing. Wash your hands thoroughly before touching your clothes. When cleaning your clothes, follow the care instructions carefully. When washing, pre-treat the stain with a prewash product, then launder in the hottest water that’s safe for the fabric or have it Dry Cleaned. Remember to point out and identify the stain to your drycleaner.

Spills seem inevitable in the summertime – outdoor parties, barbecues and light color clothing can spell disaster. If the stain is water-based, like soda, coffee, juices, wine and most fruits, and the item is washable, dab, do not rub, the stain carefully. As soon as possible, wash the item according to care instructions. Remember that sugar-based stains such as those from fruits should be washed within 24 hours to prevent yellowing.

For oily stains, such as salad dressing, cooking oil, meat juice, butter, and lipstick, the best approach is to blot, do not rub, the stain carefully with a dry, clean white cloth. Do not use water and do not rub the stain as this can set it and break the surface fibers. Oily stains are most safely removed by dry cleaning when the stains are fresh; so do not delay in having the garment cleaned. Be sure to identify the stain to the drycleaner. If you do not know the nature of the stain, it is safest to assume that the stain is oil-based.

As always, if you have any questions about fabric care or stain removal, let us know! Our world famous “Dry Cleaning Geeks” are more than happy to help!

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Merrick Employee Spotlight: Matt

Following him into the office building with the rack of clean garments, smiling, and excited to see his customers, it would be hard not to imagine that Matt has been doing this for over ten years. A seasoned veteran when it comes to delivering dry cleaning, Matt loves his job, and can think of nothing he’d rather do.

But Matt is no ordinary delivery man.

For the past 10 years, White Way/St Croix Cleaners has worked with Merrick Inc., a local charity based in Vadnais Heights, to offer mentally handicapped employees a chance to be a part of the community.

Merrick offers mentally handicapped individuals opportunities for community inclusion and participation, social relationships, skill building, and/or person futures. Each individual is assessed based on their unique passions, values, gifts, interests, skills and preferences so they are placed within a job that aligns with their needs. At White Way and St Croix Cleaners, about 8 individuals help with the delivery services.

“Each person has their own individual delivery stops and customers.” Amy Jacobsen, one of the managers and delivery drivers explains. Four days each week, the crew packs up the finished garments at White Way’s main plant on 7th Street in St Paul. They will then deliver the garments to apartments, condos, office buildings and residential areas, while picking up new bags to be checked in and cleaned for the following days.

Today he is dressed in nice black pants with a burgundy White Way jacket embroidered with his name. Matt was born with Downs Syndrome, but has never let that set him back. He tells me today (Tuesday) is his busy day. He knows all his clients, exactly where to place their clean clothes and where to pick up the dirty. He knows all their names, and their garage codes. He tries to make sure he can listen to Johnny Cash on the Radio at 12:15 each lunch hour.

His favorite part of the job is meeting new people. He tells me one of his stops is at a retirement home where he is able to talk with all the people there and they sometimes give him popcorn.

He looks and acts very professional, even showing me his homemade business card. This week he is a Ranger, while last week he was a Police Chief, and the week before, a Blacksmith. Before he loads the van with the recently cleaned garments, taking great care as though they were his own, he tells me about John, the White Way employee with whom he says is his good friend. They have “man-to-man talks” and he explains that John is even teaching him how to use the computer.

When Matt isn’t working, he is an avid musician. He likes to “Just mess around” playing guitar and using the turntables in his basement, both of which he claims he is pretty good at. “But not as good as Johnny Cash!” Matt claims, and tells me that he makes sure to listen to the 12:15 lunch hour on K102 each work day when the delivery van is driving around.

Matt is proud of his regular customers, whom he has known since he started working the delivery truck. There is nothing else he’d rather be doing, saying “I like it here.”

“A lot of customers have cards, treats and even Christmas presents for Matt and the others,” Amy says. The relationship between White Way/St Croix Cleaners and Merrick has been extremely beneficial for everyone involved, and is expected to continue for years to come. “It gets [these individuals] out into the community. They’re not just people with disabilities.”

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Rug Badger Don’t Care About Dirt!

rugbadger

One of the things we pride ourselves on at St Croix | White Way Cleaners is the fact that we’re not you’re average Dry Cleaner. We do a lot more than just Dry Cleaning around here; we love to clean comforters, drapes, pillows and rugs as well!

With that in mind, we thought we’d share a little bit about our newly improved rug cleaning process, and introduce our newest tool, the RugBadger.

At St Croix | White Way, rug cleaning is a seven step process that entails the following:

1. Deep Clean Dirt Removal (RugBadger!)

2. Pre-spray and Spot Removal

3. Rotary Agitation with Cleaning Solvent Added ( Basically a rug scrubber)

4. High Pressure Extraction

5. Grooming (Like a hair brush, for your rug!)

6. Drying

7. Final Vacuum

As you can see it’s a pretty involved process, and it’s all started off by the RugBadger.

The RugBadger’s specialty is getting the deep down soil and dirt out of your favorite rug and it does this by employing a time tested rug cleaning technique; beating. This isn’t your grandma’s rug beater, though. Just look at the results!

The RugBadger works it’s magic by vibrating over 40,000 times a minute, getting all that fiber damaging sediment out of your rug. This sediment is normally pretty tough to remove; simple washing or even vacuuming just can’t reach it the way our RugBadger does.

So what’s the benefit of this deep cleaning? Well, besides a cleaner rug, you are also extending it’s life. You’re also improving your home’s air quality, reducing collected pollen, pet dander, dust and other air pollutants. And that’s before we even finish cleaning it!

When you drop a rug off with us you can be confident you’re getting some of the best rug cleaning in the Twin Cities.

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