Acid splashes spoil pinstripe suit jacket

Problem: When a pinstripe suit jacket was drycleaned, three holes became visible in an area of localised fading.

Cause: Surface acidity measurements around the holes reveal the presence of acid (which drycleaning will never remove completely).

This, together with fibre removal and the appearance of the degraded fibre ends, confirm that the problem here is caused by splashes of acid. These were probably from a car or boat battery, although strong acids are widely used in some fabrication businesses.

Responsibility: The blame lies with the wearer. Even careless use of rust remover in drycleaning pretreatment would not produce this particular pattern of damage. Rectification: None.

Badly stitched cardigan

Problem: A zipped cardigan which had a ribbed waistband supported by elastic backing was brought in for cleaning. Following this, the waistband started to come apart and the backing could be seen underneath.

Cause: The original stitching was not good enough to survive multiple cleaning and although the waistband has started to go in this particular area, the rest will go over the next few cleans.

Responsibility: The blame here lies with the garment maker. Drycleaning involves considerable mechanical action and many garment makers just do not appreciate this when they insert the care label.

Rectification: Although the affected area can be repaired, a better remedy would be to restitch the whole waistband properly so that it can withstand the cleaning action.

Slits and scratches

Problem: After a red evening dress had been drycleaned, slits that ran down the garment and paler areas could be seen near one of the hip seams.

Cause: The surface of the fabric here suffered abrasion in wear, possibly from a bag.

The seam has also been under tension and this has resulted in slits which are very obvious in the rubbed area but are also occurring nearby.

Responsibility: The wearer should be taking the blame here. Evening wear fabrics are generally designed for impact rather than durability and some fashion fabrics are very sensitive to abrasion and tension of the type that has caused the problem here.

Rectification: None.

Inspect carefully

Most people quickly forget about any minor damage to their clothes and some do not even notice it in the first place. If the cleaner does not point out a hole at the counter then he is laying the business open to a claim from a dissatisfied customer that is very hard indeed to refute.

So as the consumer spending boom fades and more and more customers try to get more wear out of old favourite garments by having them cleaned, drycleaners should ensure that their counter staff take even more care over inspecting the garments and spotting faults before the clothes are processed.

Here we look at some of the mishaps that garments may suffer and explain what signs staff should be looking out for.

Warning: smoking can damage your clothes

Problem: A circular hole with charred edges was seen on a lady’s pure crepe polyester jacket after the garment had been cleaned.

Cause: The hole just fitted a standard cigarette and this, together with the charred edges, points directly to a careless smoker.

Responsibility: The cleaner should have picked this fault up at the counter in order to refute the blame entirely.

However, smoking is not permitted in drycleaning units because poisonous gases are caused when air is drawn through the glowing tobacco.

Therefore, if the “no smoking” rule has been rigidly enforced, the cleaner can still refuse a claim of this type fairly confidently, even though reception staff have been slipshod in their inspection.