Many cleaners have recognised that offering additional services can bring in more customers and boost profits. However, those that do so can find that the financial rewards are mixed. Some enjoy outstanding success whilst others give up after a few months.

When trying to expand in this way, consider these guidelines. First, remember that introducing a high quality shirt service requires craft skills including knowledge of the techniques for stain removal, mechanised finishing, colour maintenance and odour removal and expertise in using them.

Second, adding any extra service involves considerable effort. Cleaners must research what the local market needs, what the potential margins are and how these can be realised. They also need to establish the standards of quality and productivity necessary for success.

Third, the cleaner must be confident in researching and developing the service the business wants to offer, for example wedding dress cleaning, boxing and preservation. This will underpin a claim that the service is the best and most cost-effective available with clear, unique selling features.

Following these guidelines will initially take time and effort rather than cash so that the business develops the volumes that may justify further investment.

Bloodstains remain after 40C wash

Fault: Washing this coloured cotton shirt in the usual 40C process failed to remove the bloodstains on the front.

Cause: While 40C is the correct temperature for the pre-wash for blood stains to soften the blood so it can be removed in the higher temperature main wash, it is often inadequate, one its own, to remove blood, particularly if the stain is over 24 hours old. Stubborn bloodstains may also need a specific removal reagent in the wash. The leading shirt service providers use a tablet of sodium percarbonate or enzymes in the load.

Responsibility: If the shirt is labelled for washing at 40C as this one was, then the responsibility lies with the shirt maker. To be considered fit for purpose, a modern shirt must be capable of withstanding washing at a temperature that will remove underarm perspiration and deodorant and the occasional bloodstain. This is usually at least 60C and it is quite possible to manufacture and pre-shrink shirting materials that can be washed at this temperature.

Rectification: This should be possible if the owner will authorise the risk of shrinkage, which the cleaner can minimise but not avoid. Re-wash the shirt in a two wash process with a pre-wash at 38C and a main-wash at 60C using one tablet of optical brightening agent (OBA) free sodium percarbonate in loads up to 10kg. Press under tension (especially in the collar and cuff areas) and use vacuum to dry each lay before releasing the tension. If there is still a residual ring of rust (the iron in the haemoglobin in the blood) then use a drycleaning rust remover to take this out. Then flush the area thoroughly with water and feather it dry. Remember to take the necessary health and safety precautions when using a rust remover.

Sugar spills on dress

Fault: This dress did not have any visible stains before cleaning but afterwards it had yellow/brown marking.

Cause: This marking is typical of a liquid spill. Sugars in drinks, such as lemonade or white wine, do not dissolve completely in drycleaning solvent. Tumble drying in warm air caramelises the sugars giving these deep yellow and brown residues.

Responsibility: The wearer is responsible for the original contamination, as sugars do not occur in drycleaning chemicals. The cleaner is responsible for attempting removal of the marks by post-spotting procedures, after pre-testing.

Rectification: Sugars usually respond well to hot water and to steam, so these should be tried first. Patience is required as sugars are slow to dissolve. However, complete removal may not be possible.

Duvet feathers form smelly clumps

Fault: The cleaner washed this super-king feather duvet in a large cage (230 litre) machine. After washing, it was given a six-minute, medium-speed spin and then tumbled for thirty minutes with one other super-king duvet in a 13kg gas-fired dryer. Six days later the customer returned the duvet complaining that the filling had become clumpy and, more seriously, that it had an offensive musty odour.

Cause: There are two linked problems here. First the clumping indicates that the tumble drying process failed to break up all of the clumps of wet feathers. The dryer’s lift-and-drop action was not effective on this duvet. This might be because the dryer was overloaded but the problem could also have been caused by the drive belts slipping, giving a low rotational speed. The best duvet service operators use a neutral mass in the tumbler load to break up clumps. Sometimes an old pair of white trainers or tennis balls is sufficient to achieve this.

The musty odour is directly linked to the clumpiness of the feathers. The inside of a clump of feathers is rarely dry and the moisture encourages mildew, which breeds on the nutrients from the feathers. Foul musty odours will develop quite quickly.

Responsibility: This lies with the cleaner.

Rectification: The duvet should be re-washed by itself with the normal detergent dosage. If there is no sign of damage to the stitching or other bursting risk, it is a good idea to give it a nine-minute spin at high speed. This will significantly reduce residual moisture and therefore the drying time needed. It should then be re-dried following the advice given. Check carefully for dampness or clumps when unloading the dryer. Prospects for complete success are very good.

The lost beads

Fault: This dress was labelled for cleaning in perc or hydrocarbon but the cleaner processed it in cyclosiloxane rather than perc, because of the beading. Several of the beads came off during cleaning and could not be found in the button trap. The customer claimed compensation because the cleaner had used a solvent not permitted by the care label.

Cause: There are two reasons why beads are lost in drycleaning. Some beading dissolves partially or entirely in some solvents, leading to messy plastic residues, vacant bead sites and visible damage to the remaining beads. Alternatively, some beads may simply come loose because the ends of the attachment threads have not been secured firmly enough to resist the action of machine drycleaning. This is what has happened here as there was no visible sign of plastic damage.

Responsibility: The blame here is likely to lie with the garment maker. The cleaner made the right choice in using cyclosiloxane since the mechanical action is far less in than in perc and its solvency power is much lower so protecting the beads from the risk of dissolving. If the garment maker had understood the requirements of machine drycleaning and designed the bead tie-off appropriately, the beads should not have been lost.

Rectification: The beads should be replaced with the nearest match. Ideally the dressmaker should do this. The cleaner might offer the repair as a goodwill gesture but should only do so after the responsibility has been agreed.

Coat shrinks

Fault: This fabric content label showed that this expensive coat was 70% wool and 30% cashmere. Heavy beer and wine stains covered over half the coat when it was handed in and the stains had dried and hardened.

The coat was wetcleaned on a three minute wash with four seconds rotation every 45 seconds. It was then tumble dried until damp dry and then put on a former. When it was fully dry, the coat was hand finished in the normal way. The customer reported significant shrinkage, although acknowledging that the garment was stain-free.

Cause: The shrinkage here is unlikely to have been caused by the wetcleaning process described. By allowing the tumble dry to continue until the garment was damp enough to press, the cleaner has caused felting and the associated shrinkage.

Responsibility: The cleaner is responsible for shrinkage caused by incorrect drying.

Rectification: This cannot be rectified, as felting shrinkage is irreversible. All wool-cashmere coats should be given a short spin after wetcleaning, followed by drip-drying on a shaped hanger until damp. They should then be shaped on a steam-air former and hung on a shaped hanger until they are almost fully dry, before hand finishing in the normal way.