National Clothesline
The laboratory analysis department of a drycleaning association has reported problems with
spandex blended fabrics consisting of rayon and polyester.
Spandex is an elastic yarn similar to rubber but consists of polyurethane. It is used to give
fabrics better fit and wearability.
Spandex blended fabrics may
consist of rayon or polyester or
The dyes on polyester and rayon
are usually stable to both
drycleaning and wetcleaning when
not blended with Spandex.
When polyester and rayon yarns are blended with Spandex, the fabric can be fugitive to
drycleaning solvent or water or both.
I do not know the reason why the Spandex blend produced a less serviceable fabric. The
Spandex blended fabrics are often used in expensive women’s designer garments. The garments
may consist of mostly black dresses or womans suits with white trim or mostly white garments
with black trim.
Testing to drycleaning
The serviceability of the dyes on these fabrics can easily be tested. Wipe an unexposed area
with a Q-tip damp with solvent or oily type paint remover. Note if the dye transferred to the Q-
It is important to note that if the drycleaner uses hot solvent in their cleaning machine the test
is not accurate and bleeding can occur.
Drycleaning and hot solvent
The biggest source of bleeding problems occur with those drycleaners using hot solvent. This
was documented by the problem garments sent to my garment analysis laboratory.
Many manufacturers advocate heating up solvent to increase the KB value of less aggressive
solvent such as GreenEarth and hydrocarbon. Although drycleaners may obtain a more
aggressive solvent, they run a greater risk of dye bleeding and possibly a damaged garment.
It should be noted that drycleaners using cooler solvents have not encountered as many
I had a problem with these garments in a recent consultation. Five spandex blended dresses
with white trim bled in the drycleaning process.
The spotter tried batching the garment and wetcleaning with no results. We then tried running
each one in the drycleaning machine separately. The result was that they were corrected.
The high solvent level in agitation prevented dye transfer. The rule is if something bleeds in
drycleaning it should be drycleaned again.
The fabrics can also bleed in wetcleaning even if labeled washable. Many drycleaners may run
these garments on a gentle cycle for fabric safety. A gentle cycle or soaking creates more
The more time a fabric soaks and is not flushed the more chance it has of transferring dye.
Dye setting agents usually do not stabilize poor dye.
The easiest way to test is to place a clean cloth under the garment and flush with the steam
gun noting dye transfer.
The easiest way to attempt correction is to run the fabric over again in a regular run. The
constant agitation and flushing with warm water prevents dye transfer from occurring.
On dye transfer, a titanium sulphate bath may work well. Testing is necessary to ascertain
how readily the rayon is affected by the bleach.
Sometimes if the testing shows the dyes are affected by stripping agents it can often still be
stripped by immersing the garment in the bleach bath for a few seconds.
This immersion process can be repeated several times until correction is obtained.
When making up the bleach bath make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Dealing with dye bleeding issues
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Dan Eisen is the former chief garment analyst for the Neighborh