Delivering a high standard of cleaning and finishing3 May 2013
Drycleaning detergents and other additives ensure a high standard of cleaning and finishing. Tony Vince reports on the solutions now available to UK drycleaning businesses
Modern detergents and chemical additives ensure a high standard of cleaning and finishing. Although solvents are central to the drycleaning process, on their own they are not sufficient to produce the standard of result that will consistently satisfy customers. Assistance is needed to produce the best results and that comes from detergents and also from a range of specialised additives.
Richard Cole, managing director of UK chemicals manufacturer Cole & Wilson, says there have been quite a few changes in the drycleaning industry, with unit shop closures coming from independents and groups.
Stronger companies are doing well as they can offer the service that the customer wants and return the garments in perfect condition - with all stains removed, looking bright and fresh, perfectly pressed and with a good handle.
He adds that Cole & Wilson provides the range of products that can give this kind of result and when this quality is combined with a friendly professional service at the counter, customers will want to return.
There are still drycleaners that believe that the solvent is such an excellent cleaner that no further additives are needed, according to Jörg Schwerdtfeger at Büfa of Germany. "This is not correct," he says."Organic solvents need a detergent that will take care of the soiling, prevent greying and avoid static and other problems."
Phillip Kalli at Ideal Manufacturing notes that successful drycleaning businesses are offering a variety of additional services to make their enterprises more attractive. He says that a number of cleaners now provide both a traditional drycleaning service and a wetcleaning service and that the wetcleaning sector has grown dramatically over the last few years."
He explains that developments in chemical technology have made it possible to wet wash almost all types of linen and garments without the risk of distortion or shrinkage.
The finished articles will be cleaner and free of any microbiological contamination. This can be achieved by intelligently managing the ratio of temperature, mechanical energy, time and chemistry. "It's an exciting prospect, and Ideal is actively involved in these developments."
Kalli says that there is now an impressive range of chemical additives that can make drycleaning solvent truly effective in removing stains from textiles and help to improve the end result.
These can include drycleaning detergents, pre-cleaning/spotting agents, garment treatment chemicals, optical brighteners, bactericides, fabric conditioners and anti-static
and anti-lint agents.
Drycleaning detergents have three main functions: Carrying moisture to help remove water-soluble soiling; suspending the soiling after it has been removed from the fabric and penetrating the fabric so that the solvent and water can remove stains.
At Cole & Wilson, Richard Cole says that the company has spent many years developing and improving products that will deal with the range of garments, fabrics and types of solvent.
Perc and hydrocarbon solvent are effective at removing oil-based stains so the purpose of a detergent is to remove water-based stains effectively during cleaning and to prevent this soiling being re-deposited.
The detergent should also restore texture to garments, making them feel good to wear and preventing static building up during drying, so that garments are easier to press.
The company's premium Sultrasoft detergents give the best combination of cleaning and retexturing, says Cole. "There are no nasty static shocks, no lint and the risk of creasing is reduced even in mixed loads.
"Concentrated detergents need only small doses to be effective so costs can be controlled but the results are instantly noticeable."
Feedback from Cole & Wilson's UK customers on solvent choice and new machines suggests that cleaners are concerned about the care label system. At present the labels only refer to perc, hydrocarbon and wetcleaning. So if the cleaner uses another solvent, then technically it hasn't been cleaned in accordance with the care label. This has implications for cleaners since some garments with trims are labelled circled P underlined indicating that the trims can withstand low temperatures.
However, some other solvents including hydrocarbon and siloxane may require temperatures of over 75C over long periods to dry. The concern is that fibres can potentially be affected if subjected to temperatures over 40 - 50C so over several cleans will suffer significant damage
At Ideal, Kalli says chemicals suppliers are increasingly expected to provide additional services to support their products. It is increasingly common for the supplier to be responsible for monitoring efficiency, training operatives and for the maintenance of dosing equipment.
Ideal already supplies a full range of professional laundry products but will be launching its drycleaning and spotting division this year.
Kalli says the company is excited about prospects for 2013. It has recently appointed Hemant Zavery to oversee the development of the drycleaning division and to use his specialist experience in this area to
co-ordinate an innovative training programme tailored to using Ideal drycleaning products.
"We are also in the process of developing a new range of specialist wetcleaning products. We are currently trialling a number of these formulations on-site with end-users. The results so far have been excellent."
Ideal's established drycleaning range features the 808 Spotter kit with six stain removers in applicator bottles and a wall chart with instructions for pre- or post-spotting most common stains.
The spotters include Zero Nero a combined pre-spotter and after-spotter, formulated by Ideal for brushing or spraying onto an area of stained fabric, after an appropriate spotter has been applied, to avoid the risk of residual water marks associated with the drycleaning process.
Ideal says it can also be used as a pre-spotter on collars and cuffs prior to washing or drycleaning.
The correct use of additives, such as detergent, is one of the key factors in achieving high quality drycleaning, says Steve Tolley, chemicals support manager at Alex Reid. "By using detergents properly you can expect to remove water soluble soils, eliminate static, reduce linting and keep insoluble soils in suspension preventing redeposition. It will also help to ensure the garment's dimensional stability, making finishing easier, and prevent fabric creasing during handling and wear, "says Tolley.
Common faults can include using the wrong spotting chemical and leaving the spotting agent on fabrics for too long. They also include not using the right dosage of machine detergent - sometimes cleaners do not use any detergent in the machine. This can cause further problems such as greying, localised felting and static, because the reagents are not flushed out of fabrics effectively.
Static will also cause potential problems with greying, particularly on lighter coloured garments.
Tolley says that the golden rule to follow when using chemicals is that cleaners should familiarise themselves with the safety data sheets regarding handling and storage of each of the products on site.
"Alex Reid provides an up to date choice of machines and accompanying reagents and detergents along with back up and technical know how. We offer onsite training for staff so cleaners can work with the equipment they are familiar with."
As the UK agent for Kreussler in Germany, Alex Reid can supply a choice of machine detergents to suit several cleaning systems including K4 from Kreussler, hydrocarbon, perc and wetcleaning.
Kreussler's Clip Combi is a concentrated drycleaning detergent with antistatic properties, which is suitable for use in perc and hydrocarbon machines.
Clip Conc Asep is a concentrated detergent that gives good cleaning results and ensures the solvent is maintained in a good condition by inhibiting any bacterial growth.
Kreussler produces a range of products that can be used with GreenEarth cyclosiloxane solvents. These consist of Clip CSL, a drycleaning detergent with antistatic properties; Prenett CS for pre-brushing; and the Prenett A-B-C CS pre-spotting kit range. The range is approved by GreenEarth Cleaning. In addition to the Prenett A-B-C pre-spotting kit range, Kreussler produces the Deprit post-spotting agents. These are used to treat stains that cannot be removed during basic cleaning.
Changing fabric mix
Tolley says that as the mix of fabrics changes, so Alex Reid is now seeing a increase in the demand for its Lanadol wetcleaning products, together with its Deprit professional spotting kit, which can be used in post spotting and is flushable in water.
Jörg Schwerdtfeger at Büfa of Germany says that successful textile care businesses now use both drycleaning and wetcleaning methods.
Specific products are needed to achieve the standard of cleaning that is essential for a business to survive. "Quality is the key to success."
Büfa's CareConcept for wetcleaning, laundry hygiene and drycleaning includes ModulDOS. This is a modular system for cleaning with perc and hydrocarbon that allows the cleaner to achieve excellent cleaning results when it is matched to the respective fabric type, says Schwerdtfeger.
"Each kind of garment can be individually treated with customised products. The products are added selectively so the system is more economical and it also eliminates the need for pre-spotting, so reducing time and labour."
The ModulDOS range is made up of five products: ModulDOS 1 detergents for use with perc and hydrocarbon; ModulDOS 2 for removing water-bound soil; ModulDOS 3 a finishing agent; ModulDOS 4 a softening and antistatic agent; and ModulDOS 6, an active fragrant odour-absorber.
Richard Cole says that wetcleaning has become more popular and that more machine manufacturers now have special programs for wetcleaning, so that a separate machine isn't always required.
Cole & Wilson has a range of detergents and finishes for textiles and leathers. Drycleaners are now doing more laundry work and Cole & Wilson has responded by developing its Galaxy range of laundry detergents.
This brings all the laundry additives under one brand so the company can offer a full package that brings both improved wash results and cost savings.