National Clothesline
National Clothesline
Making good quality even better
I was hired to do a training session for Crest Cleaners, a large drycleaning operation with nine locations which is located in Cocoa, FL and owned by Keith and Kevin Houston.
They have several knowledgeable spotters aided by a capable management team. They do high-end spotting, drycleaning and wetcleaning.
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They also wetclean many items that other cleaners would not touch. This includes badly dyed Tommy Bahama shirts and women’s handbags.
Keith and Kevin wanted me to do an advanced spotting and wetcleaning training session since their cleaning staff was highly trained and technically advanced. We concentrated the training session on making the spotting and wetcleaning easier, less time-consuming and less costly.
The following is a summary of what we accomplished in the training session.
Sodium perborate
The spotters do a lot of bleaching and restoration work using sodium perborate. Sodium perborate is a mild alkaline-based oxidizing bleach. This has been effective for restoring cottons, silks and wools to a white condition and removing oxidized stains.
Improvement. I suggested they switch to sodium percarbonate which is a similar oxidizing agent. The advantage would be that it releases oxygen faster and dissolves in cool water while sodium perborate does not. This eliminates the time the spotter takes to heat up the water to dissolve the bleach.
Neutralizing
Some of the garments that were bleached needed to be neutralized more effectively. Sodium perborate is alkaline by nature and even after rinsing will not remove the alkaline change in a fabric. We showed that a neutralizing bath would restore the garment to a whiter condition.
Sodium hydrosulphite
I showed the spotting personnel how sodium hydrosulphite can do a better job in restoring some silks and wools. This is due to the fact that the bleach is acid-based and a reducing agent and does not tend to yellow wools and silks.
We tested a garment that had turned yellow and the result was that it began to neutralize using this reducing agent.
Hydrogen peroxide
The spotters were using hydrogen peroxide for oxidized stains. They used it by applying peroxide to the stain and ammonia and then heating it with the steam gun. The area was then flushed.
Improvement. We showed that peroxide can be sprayed onto a fabric and activated by light which creates a greater amount of stain removal. We applied the spray method to several oxidized stains and also a burn with successful results.
Soil removal
The spotters had a problem removing ground-in soil, especially on the neckline of shirts.
Improvement. We showed that adding ammonia to lubricants makes soil removal easier and more effective. The spotter made up a pre-spotting formulation by adding ammonia to a spray spotter. The spotter found that worked better than other agents previously used.
Leveling
The spotter had several agents that were effective leveling agents. The leveling agents were applied to the fabric after wetside spotting. The area was allowed to dry and then the garment was re-cleaned.
Improvement. I brought over a variety of protein and tannin formulas with built-in leveling agents. This means that after routine spotting the garment was allowed to hang dry and then drycleaned. No additional leveling agents were needed since the products had a built in leveling agent.
Enzymes
The enzymes that the spotter was using had a slight alkaline base to it. This meant the agent could possibly pull color on some dyes on wool and silk.
Improvement. We introduced the spotter to a powdered enzyme. This type of enzyme is entirely safe to any color not affected by water.
A small amount is added to a six-ounce spotting bottle containing warm water. (110°F). A small amount of lubricant is also added to the bottle to make penetration easier. This is applied to a stained area and allowed to remain on the fabric for 20 minutes before flushing.
Wetcleaning
The problem that the cleaner had with the wetcleaning process was that the fabric came out wrinkled and not soft. This made it difficult and time consuming to press.
Improvement. We introduced the cleaner to cationic detergents and softening agents that produce a softer and less wrinkled fabric. We also discussed how the heat of the dryer can be reduced so the garments can come out 90 percent dry, which is the ideal condition for pressing.
Rust remover
The spotters had a knowledge of rust remover and its limitations on certain fabrics and trimming. There was a difficulty removing last traces of rust remover that was flushed from the fabric.
Improvement. We showed that the last traces of rust remover was easily neutralized and removed by applying a protein formula and then flushing.  

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Dan Eisen is the former chief garment analyst for the Neighborh
Hanger