- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Q: I heard regular dry cleaning can ruin a suit. Is there any validityto this

statement?

A: No. In fact, the clothing care industry has been fighting this rumor for years. A research study was conducted at North Carolina State University to determine the effects of dry cleaning on wool fabrics.

The study, which was carried out under the direction of Manfred Wentz and Roger Baker, showed that after being dry cleaned, tensile strength of the fabrics was not affected; there was no shrinkage noted; air permeability was not affected, that is, the fabrics did not mat; and the feel of the fabrics was not affected. Additionally, dry cleaning kills more than 99.9 percent of the bacteria deposited on garments either from the wearer or other persons.

Infrequent cleaning allows particulate soil to become imbedded in the fabric fibers and can “cut” the fibers, lessening garment life and dulling the fabric’s appearance. Dry cleaning also restores the appearance of garments by returning the garment to its original shape. Water, because of its interaction with many fibers, easily can lead to shrinkage. Your personal dry cleaner provides a service that extends the life of your wardrobe.

Q: After a day in the park with my son, his shirt was covered in grass stains. How do I remove them?

A: If the stain is still fresh, it can be removed by washing the shirt according to the care instructions. If the stain has been allowed to set or proves to be difficult to remove, you will need to use a pretreatment product from your local grocery store. Test the shirt for colorfastness by applying the product to an unexposed area. Check the label on your laundry detergent for pretreatment instructions, too.

To remove all traces of the stain, all-fabric bleach may be necessary. Again, remember to test for colorfastness. Bleach the entire garment following the manufacturer’s instructions, then launder as usual.

Q: I heard metallic fabric is a “must-have” for spring. But how do you care for this type of garment?

A: The futuristic look is back. But caring for these garments can be tricky. Color failure, corrosion, physical damage, fabric distortion and heat damage are all common problems experienced by garments containing metallic fibers. You may want to take the garment to a professional dry cleaner for cleaning and consultation.

To avoid corrosion, immediate attention is necessary. Clean your garment and have all stains treated immediately by a professional cleaner after each wear. Also remember to take care when applying perfume, hair spray, body lotion and other products containing alcohol. Keep your dress away from jewelry and rough edges to avoid snagging, wear underarm shields to avoid perspiration damage, and take care when ironing.

Q: In preparation for swimsuit season, I have been using lotion that has a hint of self-tanner in it. My tan looks great, but it is staining my clothes. How can I prevent this?

A: The great thing about these lotions are they work gradually, so you don’t go from winter pale to summer bronze in a matter of hours. However, because many see them as a lotion and not as a self-tanner, often one does not wait long enough before getting dressed.

Be sure to read the instructions carefully before applying the lotion. Most importantly, wash your hands immediately after you finish and allow your skin a substantial amount of time to dry before you get dressed.

These stains are very difficult to remove. If the product gets on your clothes, wash them as soon as possible in the hottest water temperature safe for colors. If traces remain on lighter fabrics after washing, try re-washing with mild bleach, or take them to the dry cleaner for professional stain removal.

Chris Allsbrooks is an affiliate board member and spokeswoman for the FabriCare Foundation. She has 13 years’ experience as a textile analyst in the International Textile Analysis Laboratory of the International Fabricare Institute in Laurel. Send questions to info @yourclothing care.com.

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