Funny how I should be sharing my experience in the dry cleaning world and title a post that is contrary to the whole concept of the industry. Dry cleaning is in fact, cleaning with the absence of water. So, why water?
In an earlier blog I discussed how there had been a sharp increase in demand for wet cleaning (washing), in recent years. People that spend a decent amount on their garments become intimidated by the care of them out of fear of ruining them.
Generally, these items benefited most from a good water bath based on the fact that people generally wear items more than a few times before bringing them to the cleaners. Also, the new favorite fiber to include in most garments these days is Lycra, or spandex, which is no friend of the dry cleaning solutions used today. Over time the solvents used eat away at the stretch properties of the garments and they become loose and saggy. Ever had an elastic waistband in a really old pair of favorite sweatpants get all crumbly and lose its stretch? Same idea, just all over the whole garment. I have seen it.
When I say wet clean, it is a little more complicated than just throwing a load in a washing machine with some commercial grade detergent and letting it fly. Color, fibers, and water temperature all have to be considered. Sometimes it is a delicate balance. Color loss in wet cleaning is a large factor. That is what I will focus on here, but there are others as well, like shrinkage and pilling.
Color loss. Nothing makes a great black top go from fabulous to drab faster. Introducing my best go to for many ills in laundry. My best friend, white vinegar.
Adding vinegar to the rinse cycle of a load of darks is an amazing cure for color loss by removing any residue the soap leaves behind. The acetic acid in white vinegar is mild, but strong enough to dilute residues left behind by soaps and detergents. I add it to every dark load I do. Ever. The life span of the garment is dramatically increased by just adding this simple step to the process. In addition to preserving color in washable garments, it is also a natural neutralizer for odors from smoke, food, and mild mildew issues.
Considering the amount of wet cleaning loads I did, (approx. 15 a day) in my business, it is also nice to know that it is a lint inhibitor and it was a miracle worker when it came to tough grease stains (when applied with a couple other ingredients). It also did the duty of cleaning the washing machine itself. I used a commercial size front loader machine and never once had an issue with the front door seal getting gunked up or mildew build up, because of the amount of white vinegar I used daily.
In much the same way that vinegar restores color it also really brightens dingy whites. I would boil water and place them in a bucket with white vinegar to soak over night. Then wash as normal the next day (100% cotton only). On tough whites,I would add some lemon juice to the mix. No harsh chemicals needed.
I have been playing with my own recipes for a while now, trying to draw on my knowledge of the dry cleaning industry, to produce a product that I feel really works for the most common of the laundry ills that plague us. In my process, I am focusing on all natural products that are not harmful to you or the environment. Stay tuned for more tips and products I am developing to make your laundry life easier.