All Garment-Care Solutions Are Not Created Equal

I often read the posts and subsequent comments on the various Facebook feeds targeting the laundry business. I love the idea of people interacting with each other and sharing ideas and best practices – especially with regard to garment care, stain removal and wash-dry-fold services.

I truly believe that’s part of the beauty of these social media groups – and it only serves to amplify what we can do together and how we, as an industry, have traditionally helped each other out on a global level.

With that said, I’d like to offer a word of caution: when you come across a stain removal suggestion online, for instance, take a moment to think about it before immediately taking action.

The first time a new mechanic puts the wrong amount of torque on a wrench and, in turn, slams his hand into something hard and unforgiving is usually the last time. From that point forward, that mechanic will consider the consequences of this particular action.

Similarly, before you apply some home remedy you saw online, consider how it may impact your customers’ garments.

A recent online post that I enjoyed a great deal was the opposite of a home remedy. Someone had asked about the tricky topic of removing gasoline from clothing. Although there were several good suggestions, one person in particular posted a link to a professional gasoline-removing solution. Of course, it required multiple steps and involved a lot of extra work. However, if you want to be a professional cleaner, you occasionally have to take some of those extra steps to remove certain stains the right way.

Yes, there will always be shortcuts available. However, some of these methods can actually ruin the clothes you’re trying to clean. This is especially true these days, with most garments being made internationally and in countries with virtually no controls over quality. In most cases, the only quality control today comes from the company that sourced the manufacturer and its internal policies as to how they require their garments to be produced. And, unfortunately, many of these clothing companies – to meet profit margins – have completely neglected quality control.

No doubt, there certainly are tools and methods to help you clean items better, quicker and easier than ever before. But be skeptical before you take someone else’s recommendation; what may have worked well for one person on a particular garment could result in a completely different outcome in your situation.

There are some great garment-care resources out there. The Coin Laundry Association has published numerous articles on the topic by my good friend Wally Makowsky (“Wash with Wally”) and myself – each of us offering up tried-and-true methods that are safe and effective.

In addition, there are some great stain removers on the market, which you can learn about from your local chemical supplier. These products are specifically designed for particular stains and will do a far superior job than any home remedies you may come across.

As a full-service laundry owner, your chemical supplier should be one of your go-to resources. There are stain removers for ink, blood, oil, acids and so on. There are tools available to tackle nearly any type of stain. These products are worth the investment, so take the time to learn how and when to use them.

All in all, be careful with online advice – and always dig a little deeper than the first post you stumble across on Facebook. After all, you’re in the professional garment-care business – and your clients’ clothes deserve your best effort.

[Editor’s Note: “The Best of ‘Wash with Wally,’” a collection of stain-removal and garment-care tips by PlanetLaundry columnist Wally Makowsky, is available at coinlaundry.org.]

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