fire damage

Originally posted – Sep 16, 2013

I have a huge problem with my insurance company. I had a dryer fire, in which half of my dryers were totally destroyed. The other half had minor heat damage, but a lot of smoke and stain damage.

The problem I’m having is that the insurance company is willing to replace the dryers that were destroyed, but it wants me to repair the dryers that were stained and had sustained only minor heat damage. Unfortunately, I can’t find anyone who will repair and deodorize the remaining dryers. What do you suggest?

You certainly have a dilemma. Anyone attempting to repair and deodorize those dryers will face two problems. First of all, if they repair the dryers, they will have to certify and assume responsibility for any future problems that you might have regarding these dryers, because technically if you alter your equipment in any way from the manufacturer’s specifications, the insurance company can deny your claim. And no equipment company that I know of will be willing to certify that type of repair to the insurance company.

The second problem is in deodorizing your dryers. There are two ways of doing it. One is to totally strip down the dryers, and wash each piece with a detergent and an odor neutralizing solution. Of course, this method is expensive and very time-consuming.

The other way is to place the dryers in an oxone room for a period of time; however, this process won’t eliminate any smoke particles or stains.

My advice is to toss the ball back into the insurance company’s court. Ask them to find you a person or company willing to do the cleanup on your dryers, and demand a certification and a guarantee on the workability for a certain period – perhaps six months to one year. Above all, be sure that certification is acceptable to your insurance company.

I do a lot of drop-off laundry at my store. And, in the past, you’ve suggested using a built detergent for heavily stained and/or oily items. I took your advice, and my drop-off garments are coming out clean; however, some of them are coming out stiff and wrinkly. What can I do?


Unless it’s neutralized, a built detergent will tighten up the fibers of your garments – so they might come out a little coarse and stiff. That’s because a built detergent is highly alkalized, so it doesn’t rinse out as thoroughly as neutral pH detergents. Therefore, call your local distributor and ask for a product called a laundry sour; this will neutralize the pH and also relax the fibers of the garments. It will help soften the items being washed.

A laundry sour is a must-use product for anything being washed with alkali. The recommended dose is about two ounces per 50 pounds, and it should be applied during the last rinse. You can use it with or without a fabric softener.


I have a wash-dry-fold customer whose clothes always have the same strong odor. I’ve tried washing them in warm to hot water, using regular detergent, oxygen bleach and plenty of liquid fabric softener. But, after the wash, the clothes still have that strong odor. I don’t know how to get rid of it. If you can suggest a method or product that will help, I would appreciate it.

Your problem likely lies with either the clothing manufacturer or distributor. Today, a lot of fabrics are shipped from China, Taiwan, Indonesia and Vietnam; and in these countries, they often use different types of dyes and dying methods than in the United States, and some of the dyes have an everlasting odor.

Another possible cause of your problem is how the garments were originally shipped. Many distributors in those countries typically wrap garments in polyethylene, not plastic. As it ages, polyethylene will exude a strong odor that is almost impossible to remove. I would guess that this is most likely the trouble you’re having with your customer’s garments.

The best suggestion I can offer is to use Febreze or a similar product in an extended hot-water wash of about 30 to 45 minutes. Use one cup of the product per 25-pound load. Of course, also add detergent with the Febreze, but don’t add bleach. Follow up by running the garments through a normal wash and dry cycle.

If you determine that your problem is with the dye, try using a detergent with ammonia and fabric softener. In some instances, if it’s a dye problem, ammonia will take care of it.

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