Interlining faults continue to give even the best cleaners headaches, with rippling and delamination giving rise to justified complaints. The problem is that most faults stem from incorrect garment design and manufacture, rather than faulty cleaning. This month we look at some of the causes and suggest what the cleaner should do when they arise.

If a problem develops with an item purchased in your local area, you might want to keep a copy of this article to show to the shop manager. It could help to resolve what is often a one-sided argument, in which the cleaner is unfairly cast as the villain of the piece.

Differential shrinkage in the shoulder area of this jacket

Fault: this wool suit was cleaned in perchloroethylene, but it emerged from the drycleaning machine with bubbling in the shoulder area on both fronts.

Technical cause: examination under ultraviolet light indicated no area where stain removal chemicals had been applied, so the problem is not linked to incorrect use of spotting products. Even in the rippled areas, the bond between outer fabric and interlining appeared strong when peeled apart. The problem here is related to differential shrinkage. All fabrics relax slightly in cleaning, giving rise to so-called relaxation shrinkage, the extent of which a cleaner can neither foresee not avoid. The drycleaning solvent penetrates the cloth and releases the slight stretch set into it by the manufacturer. If the laminated components of a jacket are to remain intact, it is essential for both the jacket fabric and the interlining to relax by the same amount in cleaning. If the interlining relaxes by more than the outer fabric, the shear force created breaks the adhesive bond. The interlining can then pull in and produce the characteristic ripples in the outer fabric which spoils the appearance, leading to an inevitable customer complaint. If the interlining shrinks in the width, it produces vertical ripples; shrinkage in the length produces horizontal ripples. Many jackets display both, to produce random rippling and bubbling, as seen in the photograph.

Rectification: expert finishing under tension, with skilled use of steam and vacuum, on a free steam press or finishing table, can sometimes produce an acceptable result, but the fault will recur at the next cleaning.

Responsibility: in this case this is far more likely to lie with the maker. To avoid differential shrinkage in the complicated construction of the shoulder area requires matching of the relaxation potentials of the laminated fabrics to within 2% of each other. The garment is best returned to the place of purchase with a copy of this article.

Laminates which are often sensitive to cleaning

Fault: this flexible pelmet displayed unsightly rippling immediately following cleaning and the cleaner could not restore the flat surface.

Technical cause: the construction of this type of pelmet often involves bonding the curtain fabric to a buckram stiffener. In order for the assembly to be classed as drycleanable, it must withstand the test cleaning made available to manufacturers for this purpose and described in British and International Standard 3175. Many curtain suppliers do not take the trouble to check this vital parameter, leaving the customer in the lurch when it fails!

(To be deemed fit for purpose in the modern world, the pelmet should have been checked for its suitability for wetcleaning as well.)

Responsibility: the supplier should be taking the responsibility here.

Rectification: it is quite possible that the curtain maker will be familiar with this fault and can offer to remake the pelmet at no charge. There is no cleaning or finishing technique that would enable the cleaner to offer rectification.

Inadequate fusing of jacket front facings leads to failure

Fault: After cleaning in perc, both front facings of this jacket were found to have rippled. Assessment of the fused bond revealed very poor peel-bond strength – the two layers could be parted with very light finger tension.

Technical cause: making a good interlining bond requires an expensive fusing press, correctly set up. The press has two heated platens, a timer and a pressure mechanism. The platens must be hot enough for the adhesive to melt and flow, backwards into the interlining and forwards into the outer fabric. The dwell time between the platens must be long enough for the adhesive to flow far enough into each fabric to produce a good physical bond; just sticking to the fibres protruding from the surface is not good enough.

The pressure between the platens must be high enough to give good heat transfer and squeeze the molten adhesive into the fabrics. If any one of these three parameters is incorrectly set, then a weak bond results. The most common fault is under-fusing when the dwell time in the press is deliberately reduced to raise the throughput, which is the most probable cause here.

Responsibility: the blame here is much more likely to lie with the choice of fusing materials and/or the making up, so the supplier should be taking responsibility.

Rectification: it is not usually worth attempting rectification where the bond is very weak. The garment should be returned to the place of purchase with a view to replacement.

Collar and cuff wrinkles spoil shirt service

Fault: this cleaner operated a profitable and well-used shirt service based on a modern wet-cleaning machine, but their reputation was being spoilt by the occasional collar and cuff wrinkling of the type shown in the photo.

Technical cause: this type of fault is often found in a shirt service with a wide variety of manufacturing quality in the items submitted for cleaning. This fault is not always associated with the price of the item – it can happen with designer goods as well as supermarket shirts! The cause lies with the care with which the collar and cuff interlinings are selected and inserted during manufacture. If the adhesive is of good quality, uniformly laid down and correctly fused (time, temperature and dwell time), then the fault should never occur.

Responsibility: this type of fault is usually a manufacturer’s responsibility, unless the wash process has been at an elevated temperature above that on the care label.

Rectification: unfortunately, none is possible.

Suit collar wrinkles in cleaning

Fault: this wool suit came out of the wetcleaning machine with unsightly collar wrinkling, which completely ruined the appearance.

Technical cause: the problem here could be delamination of the bond between the outer fabric and the collar interlining, caused by greater relaxation shrinkage of the latter. It can also occur with a stitched assembly, caused in exactly the same way. The garment in the photo demonstrates just how bad the fault can look.

Responsibility: the suit was labelled labeled dry clean only P. If clear and concise aftercare instructions are disregarded the blame for any deterioration lies squarely on the shoulders of the cleaner. In cases where extensive water based staining dictates wetcleaning, the risks should be fully discussed with the customer with a view to cleaning at owner’s risk.

Rectification: expert finishing using skills taught at Guild Advanced Level should enable resetting of the collar, using a free-steam press or finishing table equipped with steam and vacuum.

  • If you have problems you would like the authors to examine please send with a good quality, high resolution (300dpi/1MB at least) pic of the item to