Common Care labels and What they Mean
Dry Clean: Any dry cleaning process can be used and may include moisture,
pressing by steam or steam-air procedures, and drying up to 160ºF.
Professionally Dry Clean: The item may be cleaned by varying from a
normal dry cleaning process. The care label must provide specific instructions.
Spot Clean Only: The only thing that can be done is stain removal without
immersing or otherwise cleaning the entire garment.
Hand Wash: This is a gentle soaking process with very limited agitation
by hand. Other information may include specific water temperature and drying
Machine Wash: This instruction indicates that use of either a commercial
or home washer is acceptable. The type of cycle may be specified, such as a
gentle cycle. Other information may include specific water temperature, drying
requirements, and bleaches that can or cannot be used.
Bleach: Care labels on washable garments will usually indicate if bleach
can be used and, if so, which type is appropriate. Common terms include: “Do Not
Bleach,” “Non-Chlorine Bleach Only,” or “Bleach When Necessary.” If the type of
bleach is not specified, any type may be used.
Tumble Dry: Most garments have tumble or machine drying instructions
along with recommended temperatures such as low, medium, durable or permanent
press, hot, or no heat. If no temperature is recommended, the garment can be
tumbled in a hot dryer.
Line And Drip Dry: This instruction means that the garment should be
placed on a clothesline or hanger when removed from the washing machine. If a
garment is heat sensitive, the label may state, “Line Dry Away from Heat.”
Dry Flat: Usually found on garments susceptible to stretching when wet
(such as sweaters), this instruction entails placing the garment on a towel in
order to absorb moisture as it dries or using a drying rack with an open grid
that allows air to circulate completely around the garment.
Iron: If ironing is recommended, iron or temperature settings are usually
stated. Instructions may include: “Cool/Low Iron,” “Warm/Medium Iron,” “Hot
Iron,” “Iron on the Wrong Side Only,” “Steam,” “Do Not Steam,” “ Iron Damp.” If
no temperature or setting is stated, the highest setting can be used.
Whether it’s a new or well-worn, treasured garment, everyone hates to stain
their clothing. We understand, and will always use our best efforts to make
stains go away. Sometimes it’s pretty easy – sometimes not. Either way, we have
the professional expertise to do the job.
Successful stain removal depends largely on the nature of the stain, the type of
fabric, and the colorfastness of the dye. Some fabrics and dyes simply will not
withstand the use of cleaning or stain removal agents. Some stains, like ink and
dried paint for example, can be impossible to remove.
“Miracle” stain removers – guaranteed to remove stains – are pretty much just
that. It would be a miracle if they did the job.
The more information you provide and the sooner you give it to us, the greater
the chance of satisfactory stain removal.
How does Cleanly handle stains?
We attempt to remove stains in accordance with professional practices. However,
not all stains can be removed despite our best efforts. This usually means that:
The stains are very old, oxidized, and set in the fabric
The delicacy of the fabric limits the degree of removal
The fabric dye is soluble – that is, we would remove the dye along with the
Help Us help you!
Never put a garment away for the season without it being cleaned. Every year
we see garments that weren’t dirty “when I put it away for summer,” only to
be taken out in the fall full of little holes and stains. The smallest
unseen food crumb or spillage invites insect damage.
Don’t iron stained or soiled clothes trying to get just one more wearing out
of them. Ironing dirty clothes will set stains and drive soil deeper into
“The stain was not there when I gave it to Cleanly!”
Some stains caused by beverages, food, or oily substances may not be visible
after they dry. But later, with exposure to heat or simply the passage of
time, a yellow or brownish stain will appear. This is the end result of
oxidation or caramelization of sugar or sweetening agents. It is the same
process that makes a peeled apple turn brown after exposure to air.
Whites turning yellow
This problem arises when white and pastel fabrics begin to yellow. When this
happens, a little investigative work typically reveals a manufacturer defect
in the optical or fluorescent whitening agent applied to the fabric. When
this agent begins to break down as the result of exposure to light,
atmospheric gases, or dry cleaning or washing solutions, yellowing results.
The problem unfortunately cannot be corrected and can only be prevented by
the manufacturer using stable brighteners.
Consumer related Sources of Discoloration
Perspiration – Body oils, antiperspirants, or perspiration left long enough
on silk and wool garments will weaken the fabric. Frequently cleaning
clothes heavily soiled with perspiration can lessen the likelihood of a
Acids – Perspiration, deodorant, antiperspirant, even “all natural organic”
products, fruit juice, or hair preparations can cause a change or loss of
color along with weakening the fabric.
Alcohol – Perfume, cologne, skin freshener, aftershave, hair spray, medicine,
and adult beverages can cause permanent stains or color loss.
Bleach – Home bleach, hair care products, disinfectant, skin lotion,acne
preparations, whitening toothpaste, medicine,cleaning products, office
supplies, and other such items can cause a change or loss of color or fabric
weakening depending on the dye and fabric
Alkaline Substances – Cleaning products, toothpaste, soap, detergents,
shampoo, and skin preparations can also cause problems that may not appear
until the stained area has aged or the item is exposed to heat during a
Salt – Perspiration, beverages and food, medicine, even wintry street gutter
splash or snow removal slush can result in a change in color on wool fabrics.
Hair Preparations – Permanent wave solution or other haircare products can
result in a change in color. This type of staining is easily recognized by
the location in the neckline, shoulder, or back of a garment.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requires manufacturers to attach a permanent
care label to textile garments providing directions for their care. That care
label is intended to provide both consumers and garment care specialists
guidance on how to care for a garment. A garment labeled “Dry Clean” should have
dyes that can withstand dry cleaning, and “Washable” garments should have dyes
that will perform well when washed.
The best way for manufacturers to determine care procedures is through testing.
Unfortunately, this is not always done and sometimes can mean less than
satisfactory cleaning results.
Best tips to ensure the best color performance of your garments
Always read and follow care instructions.
Protect white and colored garments from excessive exposure to
When in doubt, ask the manufacturer before you do anything.
Washable & Water Soluble Dyes
Some dyes are water-soluble resulting in discoloration when laundered or exposed
to rain, perspiration, or water. Since many stains require water and
water-soluble agents for removal, even dry cleanable items should have
Color loss in Dry Cleaning
A dye that is soluble in dry cleaning may fade during care. If two or more dyes
have been used and only one is soluble, there is a good possibility of a
dramatic color change. For example, if a yellow dye component of a green garment
were to break down, you could be left with a blue garment. There is no way of
knowing this in advance.
Another dramatic example of color failure could be a blue garment that retains
its color, while its blue and white surface-print may fade so that the blues no
longer match. Occurrences such as this example are rare, but they can happen in
the first cleaning or progress with each subsequent cleaning.
Fading may occur in household items such as bedspreads and
draperies. Often the fading may not be noticeable until the item is compared
with a matching item. We recommend that all matching items be dry cleaned or
laundered at the same time to ensure color uniformity.
Dye Deterioration from Light and Chemicals
Most dyes eventually fade with exposure to sun or artificial light. Color
failure may occur rapidly on exposed areas of garments such as shoulders,
collars, and sleeves. Particularly sensitive are blue, green, and lavender
dyes, especially those used on silk or wool fabrics.
Common household substances can also be culprits of color loss. Be careful
not to expose fabrics to alkaline toiletries such as toothpaste or shampoo.
Hairspray, perfume, and deodorant contain alcohol which may cause color loss
on silk or rayon. Even the acidity of lemon juice affects some dyes. Color
loss as a result of these situations might not be visible until after the
garment is cleaned. Bleach, a component in many household cleaning products
and skin or hair preparations, is one of the most common causes of color
loss and fabric damage.
White IS a Color
Most people do not think of white as a color, but it is. Many fabrics
naturally have an off-white or yellowish cast. It is not uncommon for white
fabrics to be treated with an optical brightener during manufacture to
further enhance their whiteness.
Some brightening agents are unstable and may lose their whitening ability
when exposed to sun or artificial light. When this happens, the fabric may
reflect a more yellow, gray, pink, or green cast. For example, a white
sweater placed in direct sunlight may turn yellow on the exposed portion
while the area not exposed remains white. Brighteners are more sensitive to
light exposure when garments are wet.
Yellowing also may occur when chlorine bleach comes in contact with certain
chemicals and resins used to impart a “permanent press” quality. Avoid this
circumstance by following non-chlorine bleach care label instructions.
Normal aging, oxidation, and exposure to atmospheric soils of whites are the
most common causes of yellowing. The results from aging, oxidation, or other
circumstances sometimes can be reversed by professional cleaning processes
using optical brighteners.