Being Proactive Can Save Time & Money

Let’s face it, spills happen. So do rips, snags and the like. But before you freak out, review our nerve-calming tips below. If you still need assistance, simply visit your friendly ZIPS Dry Cleaner and we’ll be happy to help. Please review our other informative tips for both preventative and year-round garment care.

How often should you clean your clothes?

If you survey 100 people on the street and ask them, "how often should you clean your clothes?" you would probably get several different answers. Unlike other industries, the clothing care industry did not have written standards or recommendations for proper care, and relied on the consumers "best guess" for how often you should clean your t-shirts, jeans, polo's, khakis, sweaters, suits, coats, etc.

Recently, the Drycleaning & Laundry Institute (DLI, formerly the International Fabricare Institute) published recommended standards for clothing care geared to consumers. These standards were based on consumer surveys and other testing protocol.

Also included with the standards is information related to problems associated with improper care, such as stains and odors in fabric. According to Susan Morem in How to Gain The Professional Edge, "we become accustomed to our own scent within 15 minutes. You will not be able to smell our own cologne or body odor, but it doesn't mean that others can't." Let's be real, do you want to be sitting in an 8-hour meeting next to a co-worker that decided they only need to clean their suit once a year?

Morem also states, "your clothing is the first thing others notice about you. Always look your best. Make sure your clothes are clean, pressed, mended and fit well… You are what you wear."

Guidelines recommended by DLI include:

  • Cleaning dress shirts and polo shirts after every wearing
  • Cleaning blouses every other wearing
  • Clean khakis and casual pants after every other wearing
  • Outerwear should be cleaned monthly during the season and again before storing

Of course, there guidelines do not apply if you spill coffee on your blouse, get ink on your dress shirt or wear your polo shirt to a little league game on a hot day.

At ZIPS, we help our customers look their best by offering quality cleaning at an affordable price. Alteration services are also available at most stores.

Do you have any tips on how to care for household textiles?

Recently, ZIPS has received numerous inquiries regarding care for drapes, curtains, rugs and cushion covers. Some recommendations are below.

Window Treatments

If you are like most people, you select window treatments to compliment a room, hang them and forget them. Depending on the fiber content and construction of your window treatments, cleaning may range from very easy to extremely difficult. Before you attempt cleaning of window treatments, refer to the manufacturers recommended method of care. Monthly vacuuming will remove lint and dust build up on drapes. Also, some sheers and curtains can be machine-washed on gentle cycles, followed by air drying or tumble drying on low temperatures to prevent shrinkage. Pleated and lined drapes will usually require dry cleaning.

Real Simple also features tips on 'Deep Cleaning Tasks Done in 3 Easy Steps' for cleaning drapes, blinds, lamp shades and other household items.

Upholstered Furniture & Cushion Covers

According to a study by esure Home Insurance, "The average sofa will last eight years - and witness nearly 300 arguments, over 1,300 cuddles and endure more than 1,600 spillages."

Routine vacuuming and spot-cleaning spills as they happen will extend the life of your cover, but at some point, they will need to be cleaned.

For proper care, look for the manufacturer recommended cleaning codes on the couch base or on your original paperwork from purchase.

The 4 furniture cleaning codes include:

  • W: The code "W" means that your furniture should be able to be cleaned with water.
  • S: The code "S" means that a furniture cleaning solvent can be used on your piece.
  • SW: The code "SW" means that both water and solvent can be used to clean your furniture.
  • X: This code means that you should not apply water or solvents to this particular piece of furniture, and instead should clean it using a soft brush, or in the case of deep staining, by taking the upholstery to be dry cleaned.

Please note: Cushion covers are prone to excessive shrinkage and separation at the seams, which is why they are designed to be cleaned on the cushion base, and not dry cleaned or laundered following the same procedures for clothing.

Also, Home Decorators Collection, a popular home interiors website offer tips for upholstery furniture selection and care.

If you have a fabric care question, please send them to ZIPS. We may feature your question in a future issue of the ZNEWS.

Do you have any recommendations for storing my off-season clothing?

As the temperature changes, most of us will start the semi-annual, dreaded ritual of switching out our closets. Before you switch out your clothes, there are a few guidelines that you should follow.

  • Clean all clothes before storing, never store dirty clothes. Stains can set with age, and dirty clothes attract bugs.
  • Always store clothing in temperature-controlled environments, such as an extra closet or under your bed.
  • Use tight sealing, waterproof containers to keep the bugs out and prevent mildew.
  • If you need alterations or repair work done, have it done before storing the garment.
  • Before storing your garments, go through them and give away what you don't use.

Should You Fold or Hang When Storing?

Most garments should be folded for long-term storage instead of hung. If garments are hung, there may be excess stress on the shoulder areas, which can cause thinning and fabric damage. Also, if you hang knit garments, they will start to stretch in the length, so they may be a few inches longer when you go to wear them next year.

What Container Is Best?

There are many containers available for storing garments, just make sure you pick one that is air tight and waterproof. The easiest choice is plastic containers or tubs with locking lids. There are also structured cotton bags and boxes with waterproof liners that you can get from specialty stores. Another great place to store off-season clothing... in your luggage!

Cedar Closets, Are They Worth It?

Some consumers have cedar closets, hoping to avoid the insect issue when storing wool garments. This will work the first couple of years, but you need to sand and re-treat the cedar wood every two to three years to refresh the natural insect repellent qualities of the cedar. You can also use cedar blocks, balls, or strips in your closet to get the same benefit, but you will need to replace these annually.

Moth Balls, Do They Really Work?

Everyone knows what garments smell like that have been stored with moth balls. But do they really work? The answer is yes, if used properly and in conditions where the vapors are allowed to turn to a gas, which brings out the repellent properties. However, most consumers do not like the lingering odor of moth balls, which is not easily removed from garments, even after cleaning several times.

Are There Any Natural Insect Repellents?

There are many natural and fresh smelling dried herbs and plants available that repel insects. Lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus, and mint are some of the most commonly used repellents. Purchase pre-made sachets, or make your own in scents that you like. The stronger the fragrance, the more it will repel insects. Make sure you replace the sachets as the fragrance diminishes for best results.

Got a garment question, Ask ZIPS for the answer.

What should I do with all the wire hangers from ZIPS in my closet?

Reduce, Recycle and Re-Use at ZIPS

Eco Fact: Did you know that 3.5 billion hangers end up in landfills every year? As a dry cleaner, we cannot stop using hangers, but please don’t throw them away. Instead, return them to ZIPS for re-use. Our stores have specially designed blue recycle bins for hangers in the lobby for your convenience. Or simply give them to one of our friendly counter associates. If you want, re-use the rubber bands that you get from ZIPS to bundle the hangers together when you return them to your local store.

Eco Fact: Did you know that Americans throw away more than 100 billion plastic bags each year? This includes trash bags, grocery bags, packing bags, etc. To help reduce waste, our stores are now using environmentally-friendly, biodegradable plastic bags on all orders. These bags are made from specially formulated polymers that degrade over time, reducing waste volumes in landfills.

What causes the random brown stains on the front of my shirts?

Yellow, tan and brown stains may 'mysteriously' appear on garments after they have been washed and dried or stored for a long period of time.

Invisible stains can discolor or turn brown with age through oxidation. Imagine spilling ginger ale on a white t-shirt. When the area dries, you really won't be able to see the stains. If you leave the stain for one week, it may appear pale yellow. After one month, the same stain may appear tan. Six months later, you could be looking at a brown stain.

Once discolored, it can be difficult to remove Invisible Stains. When washing at home, pre-treat the area with common household stain removing products, and wash in the hottest water possible for the color of the fabric.

Next, try a specially formulated product for home stain removal, such as Carbona Stain Devil for beverage stains.

When all else fails, you can take the garment(s) to your local ZIPS Dry Cleaner and let us do the dirty work for you.

*These home care tips should only be followed for washable items. Please make sure the dyes in the garments are colorfast before attempting any stain removal or special treatment.

How do I remove gum stains from clothing?

Anyone with kids knows that gum can mysteriously appear on their clothes even if they are not supposed to be chewing it. There are several different methods that you can try to remove the gum.

Freeze the gum by using an ice cube or placing the folding the item and putting it in a freezer bag for few hours. Once the gum is frozen, gently use the dull side of a butter knife to carefully lift the gum off the fabric.

Another Old Wives Tale method for removing gum involves the use of peanut butter. Spread a thin layer of peanut butter over the gum and let it sit for 15-30 minutes. The oils from the peanut will loosen the gum from the fabric, allowing you to gently scrape the remaining residue off with the dull side of a butter knife. But, you know have a peanut butter stain on the fabric that you will have to remove!

Some swear by using hot vinegar to soften the stains and then gently rubbing the residue off with an old toothbrush with soft bristles.

You can also purchase products designed to remove this type of stain. Goo Gone and Goof Off are readily available at home improvement and home goods stores. Carbona Stain Devil #1 can be found in the detergent and cleaning supply aisles at most grocery stores superstores.

When all else fails, you can take the garment(s) to your local ZIPS Dry Cleaner and let us do the dirty work for you.

*These home care tips should only be followed for washable items. Please make sure the dyes in the garments are colorfast before attempting any stain removal or special treatment.

Why does my dress shirt collar look droopy?

Most men's dress shirts have collar stays that are located on the underside of the front collar area. The collar stays provide stiffness and create a smoother appearance to front of the collar. Some collar stays are permanent, while others are removable.

If the collar stays have fallen out or broken from age, the collar will not lay flat when the top button is fastened.

Some change in appearance may be attributed to shrinkage of the shirt collar. This can be fixed by using a collar extender at the top button area. To use, lace the collar extender through the top button hole and secured around the top button. When expanded, it can add up to 1 inch at the collar area.

Replacement collar stays and collar extenders can be purchased at most men's clothing stores.

Look for more information about common problems with men's dress shirts in future ZIPS TV education spots that are shown in the lobby of our stores.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

Why do I get holes in the elbows of my dress shirts?

Repeated rubbing and abrasion in local areas of garments creates thinning. After several wearings, the fabric can become threadbare. When your item is cleaned by you at home, or by us at ZIPS, the thin fabric 'splits' and holes or tears are formed.

Common areas that experience thinning from wear include the elbows, collar fold, cuff edges, inner thigh, and sometimes the seat area of pants.

If you feel the damaged area, it will feel much softer and thinner than areas that are not rubbed, such as the chest area or upper sleeves. Also, if you hold the damaged area up to the light, you can actually see through it due to the loss of fibers.

What is causing the discoloration on my golf shirts?

If you are practicing to become the next Tiger Woods, you may notice unusual discoloration on your golf shirts. Most often, this damage will appear as general fading and/or speckled spots on the chest, front body, and shoulder areas.

This discoloration is commonly referred to as "sun fading" or "light fading." It results from repeated exposure to bright sunlight. Moisture from perspiration accelerates the discoloration and contributes to the speckled appearance.

If you look at the underside of the collar or even the reverse side of the fabric, the original color is still there. Also, golf shirts are usually tucked in to the waist of pants and the lower areas will appear much darker when compared to the faded body of the shirt.

This fading is not limited to shirts, and may develop on pants, shorts and even on hats. Don't play golf or other outdoor sports? Your clothes can still be discolored by light fading. To minimize this damage:

  • Don't leave your clothes hanging in your back window if you pick them up from ZIPS before you go to work in the morning.
  • If you plan on being in the sun all day, such as at a theme park or working in your garden, wear lighter colors. They reflect the sun so you stay cooler, and the dyes will not fade as readily as darker colors, such as red, black, and blue.
  • Be careful when selecting bright colored silk garments for outdoor events, such as a summer wedding or party. The dyes in silk fabric fade more readily than the same color dye on a cotton shirt.

If you notice this type of discoloration on relatively new items, you should return them to the place of purchase. When you wear clothing, it is expected for your garments to be exposed to moderate light, and the dyes should be durable to this normal condition of use.

Help, a bottle of wine broke in my suitcase. What can I do?

The method and success of removing the stains at home will be determined by the type of wine. As long as the items are washable and colorfast to washing, you can follow the guidelines below.

White wine is a little bit easier to remove. It will require hand or machine washing, and possibly adding 2-3 ounces of vinegar per gallon of water. If fragile, you may need to hand wash in a sink. Otherwise, you can clean the items in the washing machine.

Red wine is very tricky, and the longer the stains are in the fabric, the more difficult the stains will be to remove. They make a great product, Wine-A-Way, that you can get at Bed Bath & Beyond or similar stores. Follow the directions on the package for the best removal.

These home care tips should only be followed for washable items. If the wine is present on dry cleanable garments, please bring them to your local ZIPS Dry Cleaners for proper care.